For most people, one thing pops into mind immediately when they think of boarding school: dress code.
Classic TV images of plaid skirts, knee socks, and blazers infiltrate our perception of what a typical prep-school student looks like—but do all private school students really dress like that?
Well, yes—and no.
While every boarding school almost certainly has a ‘dress code’ of sorts, the style and requirements differ widely (and knee socks are almost never a requirement anywhere other than television). Some schools may enforce a standard school uniform every day of the week, while others may simply require no sweatpants during academic hours. Many schools, such as Cheshire Academy, have an “academic dress” requirement where students are to dress professionally but may choose their blouses, pants, skirts and ties according to school guidelines and only wear a traditional blue school blazer on Fridays or for formal campus events.
But why is dress code important? Some of our students weigh in:
“While most students would rather be casual all the time—because it takes less effort and is generally more comfortable—I think dress code is a positive part of the Academy. It provides more structure on how we are to look, it allows us to express ourselves in a new way, and it prepares us for a life beyond Cheshire Academy.” –Tommy, ‘15
“The formal dress of the Academy shows a tradition we have held since the Civil War and is a part of the school’s history. Many students enjoy embracing that tradition—and coming from a school where I once wore a full uniform everyday, wearing a blazer on Friday is not very hard!” –Tara, ‘18
While dress code can be a hot point of debate among students, there are many reasons that this is a popular policy across private school campuses:
Promoting a sense of Community. Dress code and uniforms bring everyone together as a united team and increases school spirit.
Improving the Classroom Environment. A dress code can limit the amount of distraction in the classroom so students can focus on learning and schoolwork.
Fostering Self-Esteem. Having a standard dress code or uniform teaches students to focus on what’s inside, not who can afford to dress the best.
Preparation for Life beyond High School. Learning how to dress professionally early on in life will undoubtedly assist students as they embark on college and job interviews later in life—many alums report feeling a “step ahead the rest” when it came to knowing how to dress professionally with ease.
Just like a sports team wears a uniform, boarding schools often look at the academic community as a team. Above all, dress code is there to promote a sense of safety, unity, and pride.