Story Weekend: Dress Codes

I remember walking into my high school one morning when a female teacher grabbed my arm, pointing in horror to the hem of the green corduroy jumper I was wearing. “I have a mind to send you home,” she said. But the hem was so close to the required middle of the kneecap that she let me slide. “This time,” she warned. After I graduated a year later, girls in that high school could wear pants and I was wearing skirts halfway up my thighs to my college classes (where we could also smoke in the classroom. Cigarettes, anyway.)

What’s your dress code story?

If  you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve been contributing. As always, there are a few “rules”:

▪   The story must be true

▪   Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge.

 Have fun!


  1. katie on October 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I went to high school all four years to a school that required a uniform. They would have sales at the beginning and end of the year, and it wasn’t until the end of grade nine that I bought the proper pants. I would get by with just the kilt, or on occasion some forbidden black dress from a ladies clothing store in the mall. I guess they got used to seeing the won’t pants, because I never got a uniform slip (3 slips meant detention !) until the day I wore the pants I had bought from the school. After that pair, I always wore dress pants from the mall, and with one lenient teacher I would wear black fleece pj bottoms. That was in grade 12 when I had co op, then art and a spare.

  2. Jody on October 6, 2012 at 12:09 am

    When I think of my public school dress code, I think of the shock and disbelief of my current juniors and seniors when I describe it to them. “You went to a snobby private school?” “Catholic school?” “That’s illegal.” “You could sue” Then, just for fun, I tell them about our daily “opening exercises” ; the pledge, singing a patriotic song (yes, even through high school) reading from the Old Testament and reciting of The Lord’s Prayer. They literally don’t believe me. I hardly believe it myself.

  3. Sheree Gillcrist on October 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I got sent to an all girls Catholic high school to ‘Curb My Enthusiasm’ for boys. Already a bit of a rebel by then, my whole mission in life was to wind the nuns up and see how many times in a week I could see the inside of the principles office, As a self proclaimed hippe I saw it as my duty to dress accordingly. This meant wearing a long peasant dress that hugged what little curves I had at that time, braided headband across my forehead, chocker like they wore in a and flowers painted on my cheeks. I tripped on the hem of my dress on my way up three flights of stairs everyday and defied any person to call me on my fashion statement. Call me on it they did but since I was a groovy gal back then I chose not to listen. GFlash forward many, many years and I haven’t changed a bit. Still love wearing work boots(suede equals classy right?) with my long dresses.I live by my father’s motto. ‘Never try to fit in if you were born to stand out’.. Ah if only.

  4. Joann on October 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I went to the college of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey for my freshman year. We needed to buy our graduation cap and gown as we needed to wear them to Sunday mass! Can’t wear any kind of pants, strictly forbidden. 11 years later I chose to go back to St. E’s to finish my degree and the girls were going braless and shoeless as well as wearing short shorts. Amazing what a few years can do.

  5. Kat on October 7, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I worked in a hospital and we had a uniform policy which obviously everyone had to abide by. The policy was pretty straight forward – wear your uniform, keep hair neat, no jewellery beyond a plain wedding band. So nothing majorly out of the ordinary. We had a great laugh though when a new manager came in and decided to send round an e-mail reminding all staff that we must keep are breasts, thighs, midriff and buttocks covered. Now the uniforms are rather like long pajamas so little chance of anything on show but I’m guessing something sparked the e-mail. I’d still love to now which ward has doctors / nursing walking round with bare breasts and bums.

  6. Steph Walford on October 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I guess the UK has a different attitude to uniform. Nearly all kids wear some form of uniform from ages 5 to 16. The uniform requirements are dictated by the school, and vary a lot. At the age of eleven I entered grammer school (selective, free, but you had to pass the Eleven Plus), much to my horror. My mother was thrilled, and probably slightly boastful. Then she discovered that every single item of clothing had to have our names embroidered on it. From bottle green knickers to hockey boots, from science lab coats to school blazers. Everything. We made a visit to the official uniform shop, but the house-keeping pennies ran out before the end of the list. On the first day of term, the class marched out to the netball courts for our first PE (Physical Education) lesson. Twenty nine pupils in bottle green tracksuits. And me, in a royal blue one from the thrift store. Oh the shame. I still curl up when I recall my sheer embarassment. Many years later, as a parent, I worked extra shifts to make sure my daughters ‘blended in’……!

    • Diane Chamberlain on October 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      I could feel the shame for you! probably made you tough, though.

  7. Jill on October 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    A few summers ago my sister and I went back to Ohio where we spent our first 15 and 13
    years respectively. We had a wonderful time visiting with our aunt, going to museums and
    taking a whirlwind tour of Chagrin Falls where we had last lived. We decided to drive out to
    the junior high school we attended. As we drove up and saw the school, we looked at each
    other and said “dress code.” It had been over 40 years since we had been inside that building
    and we both had the same reaction. Sisters!

  8. Cindy on October 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    My first year of school in Moore was grade 6 at an elementary school. Up until then, I lived in Cleburne, TX and attended Irving Elementary. We were not allowed to wear pants at all unless the temps dropped below freezing. Then we were allowed pants worn under our dresses. I attended Central Jr. High in grades 7-9.. Although at the time I went there, It was the only jr high and was called Moore Jr. High. I remember I was attending that school when we were first allowed to wear jeans. Up until then, we had to wear slacks. If you were in Pep Club you had these cute little skirts and tops and you had to wear them on all game days.

    When I returned to the same school 40 yrs later to work there, I am amazed at the dress code, or lack of one. The kids wear flip flops, shoes with out socks, house shoes. Basically, you have to wear clothes that cover your butt…that includes the pants that fall down to the ground. They have to wear sleeves, no tank tops. No Tshirts with profanity or that might promote a gang, The house shoes are gone now. NO holes in the jeans above the knee. Even teachers wear flip flops to school. I am just amazed. NO hoodies worn over the head. And and oldie, No Hats. I am a little disappointed that there are no longer pep clubs and no cute uniforms.

  9. krystal on October 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Ah the 90’s and 00’s were great for kids. No uniforms if your in public school. At a Catholic School yeah. So since I went to a grade school that was catholic I didn’t have a uniform,(only Catholic HighSchools in Ontario- or at least my city). So for 3 years i was at a Catholic Grade School and then Grade 3-8 at a Public elementary school. Then i entered a Public High school, there was no uniform but the dresscode was skirts had to go below the knee at all times, pants allowed, no hats, no shirts that had slang or offensive language, and no tank tops, top straps had to be 3 fingers wide. oh and shoes had to have a backing at all times so no flip-flops or open sandals. Lucky for me, I rarely ever wore skirts but when i did i always got in trouble(Even tho i had leggings to cover my legs-shakes head still dislike the teacher that threatened to send me to the office) Now I hear that they have even stricter policy in place(No jewellery or accesories of any kind allowed, no necklaces, brets(hairpins) earrings that hang down(those are the only kind that don’t hurt me) so thankfully Im not in Highschool any more).

  10. Clarice A. on September 18, 2019 at 9:22 am

    I am a catholic girl,but never went to a catholic school,just a public school.My parish tho was very strict and highly emphasized purity and abstinance before marriage.All white outfits were required for us girls for baptisms,First Communion and confirmation at 16[10th grade].For Easter vigil baptism,group and private baptisms,all of us girls up to age 17 had to wear a poofy,short sleeve,knee length white dress and bonnet with either white tights or lace socks and white mary jane style shoes and under our dress we had to wear a white tee shirt,cloth diaper and plastic pants[aka-rubberpants].For First Holy Communion,it was the knee length,short sleeve communion dress and veil with the tee shirt,diaper,rubberpants,white tights and the white mary jane style shoes! For our Confirmation,it was the white,poofy,short sleeve,ankle length dress and veil,white gloves,the white tee shirt,cloth diaper,rubberpants,white tights and the shoes!The tee shirt,cloth diaper,rubberpants and tights were supposed to symbolize our purity and innocence of when we were babies!I am 16 and was confirmed last May 19th and had to wear the outfit and it was really different! Our diaper had to be made from sewing the 24×27 inch cloth diapers together to make the one diaper and had to be pinned on us with diaper pins.Our rubberpants were all adult size white and were given to each of us by the parish.They had to fit loose over our diaper and our tights had to be the high waist style.Our tee shirts had to be tucked into the waist of the tights.All of the boys in the class knew about the diaper and rubberpants under our tights and they gawked at us most of the time!

    • Megan on January 26, 2021 at 8:56 am

      To Clarice A.-When i finially made my First Holy Communion at 15 in the class with the 2nd graders,i had to follow the dress code and wear a poofy,short sleeve,knee length,communion dress and veil with a white under shirt,cloth diaper,plastic pants,white tights and white ‘mary jane’shoes! It was weird having the cloth diaper and plastic pants on under the tights and people gawked at me and knew i was wearing them!

      • Jenni on September 6, 2021 at 8:29 am

        I am 16 and being confirmed on september 26th and all of us girls have to Reaffirm our Innocence and Purity by wearing white floor length dresses and veils with a pristine,white cloth diaper and milky white rubberpants with a white camisole as our top.WE have to wear lace anklets and the white patent leather shoes as well. The parish gives each of us girls the pair of white rubberpants that we have to wear so we are all the same.

        • Grace B. on August 25, 2022 at 8:46 am

          Yes Jenni,you are correct.The De Incunabula Sanctus of 1936 was made Canon Law by Pope Pius xi then which resulted from the purity movement of 1935.It calls for the Rite of Reaffirmation of Purity and Innocence for the confirmation girls during the confirmation service by them wearing white floor length dresses and veils with the ‘Pannalini’ and Mutandine di gamma[cloth diapers and rubberpanties] under the dresses with a camisole or similar top.

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