Should No Dress Code be the New Dress Code?

Sarah Irenshtain

October 18, 2020

Some of the insanely fashionable outfits that I have seen around campus would never have been displayed if not for the creative freedom we have without the normal dress code. Wearing jeans, graphic tees, and our favorite sneakers allow us to boast our unique style.

As much as I, and many other students, would like to be enthusiastic about being in Green, the absolute dread of dress code haunts us and our excitement. After our initial three weeks of in-person classes without dress code, it's safe to say the vast majority of us are not thrilled with the burden of dressing business casual.

Some of the insanely fashionable outfits that I have seen around campus would never have been displayed if not for the creative freedom we have without the normal dress code. Wearing jeans, graphic tees, and our favorite sneakers allow us to boast our unique style. By forcing us to comply with outlined formal wear, administration suffocates our originality. Zoe ‘22, said, “In many ways my style represents me. I have learned and am happy with who I am, and my individuality. I like to convey that with outfits that I entirely choose to wear because that same individuality can’t be portrayed when I’m restricted by dress code.”

Highschool is an important time for students to branch out and find themselves, not one to be forced into mundane attire. In the real world, there is no official dress code. You are required to dress appropriately for occasions based on your judgment. In being told what to wear we lose valuable experience in making our own decisions. Moreover, while the schools’ ideal situation is that we build up the habit of dressing formally so that it stays with us after high
school, this is likely not the case. It is more likely that, once we move onto college, we will struggle to express ourselves fashionably and resort to wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts, items that we were restricted from while here at school. A recent graduate, Alle ‘19, commented, “I think it’s important that we all experience having a choice. When I started college the only clothes I had were dress code and when I went out to shop for new outfits I didn’t even know what I wanted. I had no idea what my sense of style was.”

Confidence is a central issue that people of highschool age struggle with. For many, clothing plays a huge role in how confident they feel, and can make or break their mood for the day. Receiving compliments on a unique item that you could not wait to style is an incredible feeling. Abbie ‘22 said, “The way I feel about what I’m wearing does affect my whole day. When I wake up in the morning and put on an outfit that I feel like I can express myself and be comfortable in, I start my day off on the right foot and I’m more prepared to handle what the day throws at me.” What you are wearing can be the difference between wanting to hide versus wanting to be seen. When I am confident and proud of the outfit I put together, I stand straighter, greet more people, and overall have my best foot forward.

School pride is a valuable thing, it enhances our community and brings us together. Having the liberty to wear Winchendon merchandise, besides for just on Wednesday, brings more opportunities for students to represent themselves as spirited Winchendon athletes with team gear, united members of the community with our Unity Day t-shirts, participants in clubs such as the School Newspaper and Model United Nations, and so much more! Bradley ’21 believes that “Winch apparel strikes true school spirit within everyone on campus. There is an overwhelming sense of community when I see someone wearing similar apparel as I am. The connection I feel when I see someone also wearing winch merchandise sets me up for a great friendship later on.”

Dress code can be costly, with specification on types of shoes, requirements of button ups, collared shirts, and the overall ownership of fancier types of clothing. Not only is this type of clothing pricey, but it is also harder to find. Imagine having to look for, and spend money on, clothing that you do not even want to wear! Sounds absurd to me, and takes the fun out of shopping. On top of that, take into account students needing a separate wardrobe for after classes. Whether it be changing specifically for sports, wanting to dress comfortably to perform in theatre or engage in the art, or preferring to go to dinner in more casual attire. Buying two separate wardrobes can be too expensive for some students, potentially leading to them feeling uncomfortable and feel left out from the rest of the community, who may be able to afford to dress befittingly to the dress code as well as change for convenience later in the day.

Students are already facing an abundance of stress with adjusting to in-person learning, the strict and constantly changing COVID guidelines, as well as the general weight of their academic and social lives. Currently, common occurrences that students get penalized for include, not properly wearing their masks and hanging out too close together, both things that we never had to think about in the past. Now, on top of that, with the dress code students will be getting written up left and right, and won't be able to leave their room without going through a long checklist of requirements. This checklist will not only be difficult to keep track of, but it could be stressful and depressing, potentially starting someone’s day off badly before they even leave their room.

Just to prove my point even further, when asking my peers for photos of outfits that they were proud of, and have worn the past few weeks the responses were overwhelming. The photos showcased in this article are just a selective few, but many students were excited to share their style because of how important it is to them. In conclusion, for the benefit of our school, even as we move onto the green phrase, we should continue giving the members of our community the freedom to dress however they would like. This is to allow everyone to express their creativity, grow their confidence, boast school pride, and alleviate overall stress.