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dressing & original thought

Hilary Bates hbates at amgen.com
Wed Aug 14 15:50:37 EST 1996

ravena at cco.caltech.edu (Karen Allendoerfer) wrote:
>But, when I was in school I did have some friends who were in private
>school who had to wear uniforms, and the thing that always annoyed me
>about uniforms or dress codes that I heard about (and which made me glad
>I didn't have to adhere to any dress code) was that they were sexist.
>Invariably, the girls had to wear skirts, and in upstate New York where
>I was growing up, skirts meant cold legs, or skirts meant nylons and
>flimsy uncomfortable shoes.  It never appeared that the boys had to deal
>with either one of those things in their part of the dress code, only the
>So, I was wondering, those of you who either know about or support the
>idea of dress codes, what are they like?  Specifically, are the girls
>allowed to wear pants and comfortable shoes?

When I was in (an all girls') high school (in Britain in the mid-seventies)
I was very disappointed when my family moved when I was 15 to find that
the new school I was going to required sixth-formers (last two years of
high school) to wear uniform, having come from a school which allowed
sixth-formers to wear non-uniform (it wasn't "anything they liked", by
any means). However, I became less disappointed when the headmistress
announced that throughout the school, we were no longer to be forced
to wear skirts, but might wear trousers, provided they were in the
uniform colour, and that skirts no longer had to be "regulation design",
but more flexibility would be allowed. I vividly remember in the winter
of 1975, when skirt lengths suddenly increased dramatically, walking
around school thinking "I feel rude" when forced to return to a uniform
skirt after the holidays! :-)

Certain rules were still in force, but a lot more common-sense and
flexibility was in evidence, and in general the freedom wasn't abused.
Just rebelled against to a normal adolescent extent! :-)

>This sounds great.  I'm reminded though of a "dress code" that was in
>use at an airline (I forget which one) that had make-up requirements
>for women.  There was a woman who was transferred out of her customer
>service job into a "less visible" (and less desirable) job because she 
>wouldn't adhere to the make-up requirements (that is, she didn't wear
>any make-up).  There were no make-up requirements for men.  At any
>rate, when she sued for sex discrimination, the company came back and
>told her that the dress code, including the make-up requirements for
>women, had been designed and implemented by the employees themselves!

Well, if they'd had any input from me, I'd have been dead against it,
as a chronic allergy sufferer who has never found *any* makeup that
I can wear! :-)

>It seems to me that dress codes are okay and might even be useful and
>do some good if they are implemented properly, but that a lot of sexist
>bullshit can creep into them, even when they sound good on the surface,
>and that gives me the willies.

I agree that that can happen and also agree that proper implementation
is very important.

In a completely different context, however, a dress code *can* work in
women's favour - I was for nine years a member of one of the top choirs
in London. We were performing for the paying public so there was a dress
code, but it was fairly liberal. Long black dresses, three-quarter or
full-length sleeves, "modest" neckline (!) and minimal restrictions on
makeup or jewellery - the main one was no large, flashy earrings or
necklaces that might catch the stage lights and shine into the conductor's
eyes. This left a lot of freedom for choice of a dress style, and a fair
amount of individuality was in evidence. (Though the soprano voice reps.
did write to us all on one occasion to say that we were moving too far
away from the code.) However, for the men, there was far less flexibility
- they had to wear black tuxedos with white shirts and black bow ties.
We women were far more comfortable on a hot stage!

Getting way off topic....

hbates at amgen.com

*** Disclaimer: These are the opinions of the poster not Amgen Inc.***

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