Imagine this: It’s April. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and you just want to kick back during your free period and play some spikeball on the Senior Green. But what’s this! You’re wearing pants and a collared shirt. You and the rest of the KO community can’t partake in the spring festivities without soiling your spiffy outfits with sweat. Tragically, Wyverns are doomed to life on the sidelines.
I’m sure that is an experience that will sound familiar to some of you. And if not, we can all recount dress up days during September or June where we practically bake ourselves walking from class to class. However, the benefits of a relaxed dress code extend far past preventing unnecessary heatstroke. A relaxed dress code would provide students with numerous benefits by allowing for greater freedom of expression, and giving students the opportunity to demonstrate their maturity. By more relaxed, I don’t mean to suggest that skimpy, soiled, and tattered clothing should be allowed, but simply that we abide by the rules in force for Dress Down Days.
Let’s begin by observing the psychological effects of relaxing the dress code. Wearing more casual attire can put students at ease and limit distractions. There are no collars to adjust, no fixing of your skirt. A sweatshirt doesn’t need constant readjustment unlike your suffocating tie. And that’s only the physical side of things. As teenagers, we constantly fret over our appearances. The dress code may force students to wear garments they would otherwise be uncomfortable wearing. The last thing we students need during a test is outfit woes. The fact that KO allows for Dress Down Days during exam weeks only supports this notion. To provide students a calmer state of mind to take their exams, faculty let students wear more comfortable clothes. And what is the result? Thunderbolts do not crash down from the heavens. Instead, Wyverns produce some of their best work of the semester (hopefully). So why not implement this idea on an everyday basis? KO should want to provide us the best possible learning environment. By denying us the ability to dress down on a daily basis, the school actively undermines our capacity to perform to the best of our abilities.
Secondly, and as important, is freedom of expression. Students should have the ability to express themselves through any media, whether it be through speech, words, or in this case, attire. We’re a highly creative community and we thrive on diversity of experiences and opinions. Let this be reflected in our clothing as well. If KO wishes to provide a stimulating environment that can provide greater perspective, then let students wear what they wish.
It is also worth noting that many schools already have this policy in place. For example, fellow Founders League schools such as Loomis Chaffee and Choate Rosemary Hall have implemented relaxed dress codes. Do we really want these schools to show the world that they have a more forward-thinking outlook than KO? In addition, most colleges don’t have any sort of dress code. If the aim of KO is to prepare us for college, then let us practice picking out our own outfits now. If KO doesn’t deem us sufficiently mature to do so appropriately, then that is a very sad state of affairs. Let us demonstrate our sound judgment. We can’t gain your trust without being given an opportunity in the first place.
Only a few years ago, KO still required ties everyday. The dress code reforms made then did not create chaos or sully our reputation. Still more reforms can be made. A more relaxed dress code would also relieve teachers and administrators from spending time disciplining us for dress code infractions instead of focusing on more important matters. Allow us to dress down on a daily basis and just maybe our performance in the classroom will also improve. Our spirits certainly will.