Adult Woman Tries To Follow High School Dress Codes, Fails Miserably

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Applying high school dress codes to a woman’s wardrobe proves how hard they can be for girls to follow

There’s a lot of talk these days about high school dress codes and their varying levels of ridiculous, but have we considered what it might be like to adhere to those rules ourselves? One writer decided to try fitting her adult lady wardrobe into the confines of dress codes from several American high schools. And the results are pretty disturbing.

Buzzfeed writer Kristin Chirico gathered dress code rules from eight different high schools. Day by day, she tried to make her regular work outfits jive with the rigid and often confusing bullet points teen girls are expected to interpret and apply for school. In short, it was fucking hard.

The first school wasn’t so bad — Chirico was able to wear an outfit she would’ve worn to work anyway. However, she notes that it was so easy to follow because the rules were “delightfully vague.” They include hazy terms such as, “no “unnecessarily” revealing tops” and “no “excessively” short shorts or skirts.” The obvious question being, who determines what’s unnecessary or excessive? And if you give it a little thought, you’ll understand that this gives teachers and administrators an awful lot of latitude in deciding who has on an outfit worthy of punishment and who can pass.

Not cool, school. Not cool at all.

As the experiment progressed, the dress codes became increasingly hard to follow. The next school allowed no tank tops at all. Seriously? Are shoulders and collarbone that sinful?

Chirico points out the utter absurdity of the “fingertip” rules many schools have in place. You know, where they say a girl’s skirt or shorts can’t be shorter than her where her fingertips reach with her arms at her sides. It’s totally arbitrary and ridiculous because as Chirico notes, girls with very short arms will have a much easier time finding something suitable than taller ones.

Another school decided on what bottoms were appropriate based on this method of measuring: “Shorts and skirts must be no shorter than 6 inches off the ground while kneeling.”

Huh. So that means if the clothing were in question, a teen girl would need to kneel before a teacher or administrator so they could bust out a measuring tape? Pretty sure I would lose my mind if I found out that happened to my daughter, but Chirico decided to put it to the test to get a feel for that particular brand of humiliation. She had her male boss measure her dress while she was kneeling down. She said it was “terrible for everyone involved.”

Sounds about right.

The last dress code she attempted to adhere to was a doozy. Hold on to your hats, ladies. That is, if hats are allowed in this total train-wreck.

— Tops (without collars) must be a solid color (no designs/emblems/logos)

— All skirts must reach the bend of the knee. — No shorts or skorts after fourth grade. — All shirts must have sleeves that cover the shoulders. — Pants must be a substantial material.

In order to fit these standards, Chirico ended up wearing a pajama shirt, as nothing else in her regular wardrobe met the rules in place for teen girls. A substantial material? What does that even mean? Burlap? And this school is in Texas, where it obviously gets pretty hot outside. Being forced to wear pants of a substantial material means there’s probably a bunch of sweating happening. How nice.

In the end, she came to the conclusion that trying to follow the rules of the more strict dress codes can be an unbelievable distraction for a high school girl. We could probably go out on a limb and say it’s even more distracting than a teen boy catching a glimpse of shoulder during biology lab, which is ostensibly why these rules are in place. Chirico says it’s largely a matter of luck, how your body is built and whether you can afford the kinds of clothing called for to adhere to your school’s dress code. If you’re 5’10” and live in a state where it gets warm, good luck finding shorts that will work with the rules. It’s so totally unfair.

The point of these dress codes, say their proponents, is to prepare kids for “real” life where at their future jobs, they will have to follow a certain code of conduct with their apparel. That’s fine. But high school isn’t real life, as Chirico points out. Maybe schools with the more rigid dress codes should loosen things up a bit so instead of panicking about how close their skirt is to their knees, teen girls can focus on what they come to school to do.


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