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Digging Into The Dress Code

CB students have a love-hate relationship with the dress code. So much freedom, but somehow not quite enough. It is one of the most controversial topics to grace the halls as everyone seems to have an opinion about the rules of the dress code. The Talon sat down with Mr. Mike McCarthy ’80, co-Dean of […]

CB students have a love-hate relationship with the dress code. So much freedom, but somehow not quite enough. It is one of the most controversial topics to grace the halls as everyone seems to have an opinion about the rules of the dress code. The Talon sat down with Mr. Mike McCarthy ’80, co-Dean of Students, and two students, Rafa Fernandez (’20) and Grace Ramirez (’20), to discuss the reasoning behind some of the most talked about rules, how the dress code has changed over the years, and why some students have such a problem with it.

The history of dress code at Christian Brothers is just as long as the school’s history itself. Just as the school has changed over the years, so has the dress code. We may think we are limited in options clothing wise, but believe it or not, those who came before us, including Mr. McCarthy, had it even worse.

“I can compare the dress code to when I went to CB in the late ’70s, and the dress code has definitely become more flexible. While we didn’t have a uniform, the expectations for dress were much more uniform.” he says. “The biggest distinction for me in 2018 is that there is a lot more room for individual expression with respect to accessories with a wide variety of club shirts or team shirts that represent CB as well as colleges where students can pick their favorite college or pick a random college that makes them stand out and be unique.”

While we like to critique it, the Deans take a lot of factors into account when creating the dress code. CB strives to keep the dress code budget friendly with all the other expenses that need to be paid for. In addition, students are better able to express themselves through our dress code friendly fits. However, when creating the dress code, it all comes down to one thing: modesty.

“We know that dress code does impact attitude and behavior, so we endeavor to keep things that are appropriate for school, that have the right level of modesty, moderation, and good taste,” Mr. McCarthy explains.

With leggings, sweatpants, and non-college sweatshirts, it’s ironic how so much comfort can lead to so many uncomfortable consequences such as lunch detentions and even a quick trip to the clothes closet to get back into compliance with the dress code.  According to the School Handbook, no excessively tight pants or sweatpants are permitted. It is easy to understand why these would not be appropriate for class as Christian Brothers is private Catholic college prep high school. However, it has become increasingly popular for students to throw these rules out the window and throw on some more comfy bottoms.

“Girls are beginning to wear leggings more often because regular pants are restricting and you feel as if you literally cannot breathe because of how tight they are,” Grace says. “Leggings are a more comfortable option.”

The reason for their absence of non-college sweatshirts in dress code is not only for branding and unity, but also for safety reasons.

“We are a college prep high school, so we determined many years ago that college sweatshirts would be allowed along with Christian Brothers sweatshirts and that really helps distinguish us and give us some identity and some commonality and still allows a broad choice for students,” Mr. McCarthy says. “It helps distinguish our students from someone who might sneak onto campus from the neighborhood. We know that our students are all dressed in a similar fashion. That made the decision rather easy to eliminate plain sweatshirts or those that represent outside clubs or professional teams.”

While it may seem like our dress code is set in stone, thus making it extremely difficult to find clothes that conform to the rules, the Deans do listen to our complaints and are making an effort to make complying with the dress code easier for everyone. For example, this year the length of shorts has changed due to the amount of complaints about the availability of shorts that fit the right way and are the right length.

“The length of shorts has evolved a little bit over time,” Mr. McCarthy says. “When we look at shorts, we really want them to fit our dress code standards of modesty and moderation and good taste, but those things do evolve over time like fashion evolves over time and we recognize that it was becoming harder for young women to find shorts that fit that length.”

“In consultation with some staff, students, and parents, we determined that it would be more appropriate to have shorts extend at least mid thigh. That seemed to work because whether you are 5’10” or maybe just 4’11,” mid thigh is mid thigh.”

While discussing how the Deans create rules that everyone can follow, another subject was brought to our attention: why have a dress code rather than a uniform where everyone wears the same thing?

“We do believe that dress code really does impact attitude and behavior on campus and we have much support for having dress code that allows for some individuality,” the co-dean says. “There has not been a large amount of support for a uniform. We also believe that that type of strict uniform arrangement does come with its own cost, whether you buy those on line or from a local provider, and we want to keep the uniform as affordable as possible, but still be distinctive and appropriate for CB.”

Some would say rules are meant to be broken, and in this case, like nearly all other cases, breaking the dress code comes with consequences.  Many may think of these consequences as annoying and and stupid; however, Rafa Fernandez has a different view.

“I think the consequences are reasonable because lunch detention isn’t too bad and making the offender change clothes ensures that they remain in dress code throughout the day,” he says.

 But there is still much room for revisions and changes to be made. Grace offers up some changes she believes would make the dress code more enjoyable for everyone to wear.

“I think that sandals and flip flops should be allowed during the warmer seasons because other Catholic high schools are allowed to wear them and it gets really warm,” she says. “Also, I think we should be able to wear college shirts.”

As Hannah Montana famously said, “nobody’s perfect, you live and you learn it”. The dress code is not perfect and as the time goes on, it is constantly adjusting.

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