Should College Students Have a Strict Dress Code?

Should College Students Have a Strict Dress Code?
  • Opening Intro -

    Every once in a while the mass media and social media go into a tizzy because some college or the other in India is accused of announcing very strict dress codes that seek to limit the freedom that girls especially like to exercise once they step into college.


Boys apparently have no such issues as there’s hardly any controversy regarding their dressing habits! The frequent outcries against certain contemporary apparel seems to be basically a struggle between an older generation and an younger one regarding what is acceptable to wear in institutions of higher education. The fear is that when left to their own devices without any sort of control at all girls will sport apparel that might cross certain levels of decency and even invite unwanted attention from their male classmates or even the general public.

The Argument for Dress Codes

A principal of a college, while agreeing that students do not like any form of restriction once they leave the strict regimen of their school, makes a point regarding the necessity of a dress code. He says that when students pass out of college they will invariably take up employment in workplaces that will have a dress code of their own, usually formals. Instead of letting their hair down in college, they should try and maintain a habit of wearing clothes within a narrow band of acceptability so that they have fewer problems in adjusting in situations where there will be a lot many other things to worry about. That a lot of girls find traditional Indian clothing extremely attractive can be observed when you try to buy sarees online – there’s a mindboggling assortment for young wearers for both daily and special occasions.

Another head of an educational institution admits that restricting the students from wearing certain items of apparel stokes the fire and makes them want to rebel even more. He says he would rather allow students, especially girls, to wear all sorts of clothes as long as it does not cross the generally-accepted boundaries of decency. He acknowledges that there can be many interpretations to what is decent but he says that he would like to err on the conservative side. While this means that girls cannot wear tank tops and miniskirts to class it does not amount to restricting them to salwar-kameezes or the classic saree-blouse combinations in granny styles. He is confident that conservative dressing is not an issue with most students who are aware of the need to be responsible and not provoke any unwanted attention.

Apparel as a Mode of Expression

The main crib with students who face dressing restrictions when they step into college is that they should be allowed to express themselves far more liberally than when they were forced to wear uniforms in schools. They point out that the entire environment around them is dressing in a very liberal manner and they are conscious of the fact that they are mature enough not to overstep the limits of social conventions. They point out that the colleges lay down rules as if they were still stuck in the 19th century where people wore nothing more than demurely draped sarees or salwar suits. The times have changed and they need to keep up with it, as with everything else around them.

A dress code may or may not keep college costs down. But regardless, college costs are still high. View the options you have to pay for school.

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Parents – Caught In The Middle Of the Tiff

As usual, parents are caught in the middle of the debate as to what their daughters should wear to college. While many would secretly prefer their daughters to stay away from revealing skin, they also realize that forcing them to wear sarees all the time can be detrimental. They usually make the point that it is all right to experiment a bit and try out all types of apparel as long as it does not make people around them uncomfortable. They understand that colleges most of the times tend to go overboard when issuing dress code circulars as they do not want to leave anything to chance.

Author bio: Meenakshi Handa is consumer behavior analyst who works with many leading consumer companies to advise them on how to make products and services more appealing. She has worked intensively with to make their apparel range more attractive to young buyers.


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