The Student News Site of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy

The Campus Lantern

The Campus Lantern

The Campus Lantern

The dress code mess: outdated and expensive

The current, complete SCH Academy Upper School dress code.

To start, it is very important to understand that the dress code conversation is not a binary issue. There are many different opinions ranging from having no dress code of any kind to having a strict school uniform. The purpose of this article is to point out some of the weaknesses I see in the dress code in order to hopefully inspire change and/or dispel confusion.

If I Wrote the Dress Code 

In my opinion, a certain level of dress code is required to maintain an academic space. I do not believe however that students should have to conform to a business casual style dress code. If I was in charge of the SCH Dress Code I would create a detailed and specific dress code that defines what is appropriate while giving more flexibility and affordability as well as professionalism.

The Statistics

Although the ethics, efficacy, and enforceability of the dress code can be argued, statistics cannot. When researching this story I decided to get both faculty/staff and student opinions on the current dress code. I was very happy to realize that I received over 175 student responses and over 30 faculty/staff responses. The breakdown goes as follows: more than 80% of students and 56% of teachers expressed that wearing dress code does not help students focus, around half of students said they have received a dress code infraction even though they didn’t know they were in violation. This highlights the problems with the clarity of the dress code as students clearly have trouble understanding when they are in violation.

The Problems

Most of the problems with the SCH dress code stem from the vagueness of the current rules. For example, the dress code states what you may wear but not what you may not, leaving much room for confusion. Because of this, several students raised the point that finding a dress code outfit in the morning can be a difficult task. What if a clothing piece does not fit in any of the mentioned categories? For instance, reading the dress code will not tell you whether you can wear cargo pants, short turquoise jeans, a tie, blazer, or hybrid shorts.

Even worse, the dress code states “Any images/words on clothing should be appropriate for school and in line with the schools mission.” This statement initially seems fine, except anyone who attempts to apply it to their clothing choice will quickly realize that the sentence does not mean anything by itself. While it is pretty easy to infer most things that fall under the umbrella of “not appropriate,” not defining this term allows interpretations that may not be in line with those enforcing the dress code.

All of these seemingly small intricacies of the dress code can very easily be overlooked especially in the sometimes hectic mornings getting ready for school. This causes students to receive dress code infractions despite not understanding their violation of the dress code.


The process of a student being given a dress code violation should not be an enjoyable experience for either the student or the teacher. The vagueness of the dress code often leads to bad feelings between teacher and students despite the fact the teacher is just doing their job.

We see this exact scenario in an interview with junior Anderson Swanger, who recently received a dress code violation. Anderson said things such as  “I’m not even sure what the infraction was for…” and “I had no idea what I was doing wrong.”  Not understanding why you are receiving a punishment also means you cannot learn from your mistake. This points out another large flaw in upholding the dress code as innocent students can receive infractions with no ill intent. This lack of understanding breeds dissent between teachers and students.


When asked how many dress code items students have purchased, more than 59% percent said they had to buy 10 or more pieces of clothing. As a private school Springside Chestnut Hill is very fortunate to have many advantages, one of which is wealth. The base cost to attend SCH is 44 thousand dollars a year, but we have a financial aid system so that less fortunate families can still receive the same education. What does not help less fortunate students attending SCH is forcing them to buy 10 or more pieces of relatively overpriced clothing with the threat of disciplinary action if they do not.


The SCH Dress Code is often deemed important because it prepares students for the workspace, but how realistic is this assumption? In a study done by the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia it was found that: ““In 2019,” the report revealed, “58% of employers wanted employees to feel free to dress casually at work, while 41% adhered to a business casual dress code. By 2022, the percentage of employers citing casual dress codes rose to 70%, while those asking for business casual attire dropped to 29%.” Just like other styles of occupational wear in history, business casual is being replaced with a more casual alternative. If we want to be most accurate to what SCH students will experience in the workspace we should adhere to the same changes. Furthermore, SCH is a well known and self proclaimed college preparatory school, so how does the style of dress at SCH prepare students to dress in college? Surprise surprise, it doesn’t. Most colleges do not have a dress code at all, meaning you unnecessarily learn the skill of dressing for an outdated style just to not use it in your years of college and then either abandon it or have to relearn it anyway when you get a job. The colleges that do require a business casual dress code are few and far between and largely have religious affiliation. The reality is, dress code is outdated, and, just as uniforms dwindled out, eventually business casual dress will as well. Clearly SCH is behind the curve.


Now that we understand the state of business casual attire, let’s take another look at the SCH store. The SCH dress code states that “SCH shirts and hoodies may be worn at any time” This means that the school store offers a get out of jail free card from the business casual standard. When students want to wear a regular shirt out of school dress they are punished, but conveniently the school store has non-business casual alternatives that can be purchased for only a couple times the price of a regular shirt. 


It is apparent that at its current state, the SCH dress code needs revision, clarification, and adjustment because of its ethics and usefulness on a broad scale.

View Comments (1)
Donate to The Campus Lantern

Your donation will support the student journalists of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Campus Lantern

Comments (1)

All The Campus Lantern Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • R

    ReeceFeb 9, 2024 at 12:12 pm

    Very compelling arguments. I agree that the dress code can use some adjustments.