Decoding the Dress Code: SLS Student Perspectives

Emma Sherter '25, Staff Writer

Tuck in your shirt! Neaten your tie! But wait, students don’t need to tuck in their shirts anymore. And, ties are no longer mandatory. The St. Luke’s School dress code is constantly changing and trying to balance students’ wants with comfort and professionalism. Yet with each change, students develop mixed opinions about the dress code.

The latest iteration of the school dress code came into effect at the beginning of the 2021 school year. Initially, members of the St. Luke’s Student Council discussed making alterations to the dress code in the early Spring of 2020; however, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck later that spring, the Student Council paused on making dress code changes. Members of the 2020 Student Council, including Peter Cioffi ‘23, Macy Millones ‘23, Matthew Sherter ‘22, and Calvin Stuart ‘22, reintroduced the proposed dress code changes the following year.

The main change to the dress code in 2021 consisted of having “permitted” and “not permitted” columns rather than gender specific columns. Extending the Spring dress code period, making neck or bow ties optional, permitting any type of “school skort” rather than just Dennis skorts, and not requiring button-down shirts to be tucked in were other notable changes.

The dress code changes were presented to the St. Luke’s community in a video. In the video, the Student Council explained the goals behind these changes to the dress code, which were: improve student/teacher relationships, enhance practicality, foster inclusivity, and maintain student comfort.

Cioffi explained that inclusivity was the main reason why the dress code was changed: “It used to be a dress code for boys and a dress code for girls, but we wanted to change that to make it more inclusive by just making it a column for permitted and a column for not permitted.”

When interviewed, Cioffi mentioned, “I think definitely having to wear something, and not just being able to come in with sweats or whatever, adds a level of focus and professionalism.” Yet, “I think it’s important for people to be comfortable, as well, and not distracted and uncomfortable at the point that your tie is tied so tight around your neck that you can’t focus in class.” Cioffi believes that the present dress code finds a good balance between professionalism and comfort for students.

Now, what are other St. Luke’s students’ thoughts about the current dress code? In a survey sent to the St. Luke’s Upper School on February 2, 2023, Upper School students answered a series of questions.

The first question posed was, on a scale from 1-5 (1 being the horrible, 5 being amazing) rate the dress code. The most students, 41.2%, responded that the dress code was 3, while the least amount of students, 3.4%, responded that they found the dress code amazing. This is interesting because almost half of the students that completed the survey ranked the dress code as average.

The second question asked was, do you like having a dress code? The majority of students, 57.5%, answered no, compared to the 42.5% who answered yes. One student said, “As ‘restrictive’ dress-codes go I’m pretty happy with this one.”

The third question put forward was, In one word, how would you describe the dress code? The most common descriptions of the dress code were, annoying, good, uncomfortable, restricting, limited, decent, average, flexible, lenient, pointless, and comfortable. One student stated, “I think the dress code is too strict.” Another student said, “I feel that I am more productive when I am dressed comfortably.”

The last question raised was, What changes would you make to the dress code (if any)? The main changes requested were: no dress code, no collared shirts underneath sweatshirts, wearing sweatshirts, allow outerwear, allow hats, add dress down days on Fridays, bring back ties, allow dresses, and allow non-blue jeans.

There is one common theme throughout the responses: sweatshirts. One student said, “Allow hoodies. I understand khakis and collared shirts, but hoodies are 90% of kids’ outerwear excluding puffers.” A lot of students feel very strongly about permitting St. Luke’s sweatshirts. One student even mentioned, “being allowed to support school spirit and wear St. Luke’s sweatshirts with dress code on the bottom.” The jury is still out.

Can dress code changes help to increase school spirit?