Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dress Up Down Up

     Last week I reflected on dress codes.  When I grew up blue jeans were rarely worn in public.  Jeans were reserved  as work or hard play clothes.  My mother dressed nicely when shopping and my sister and I had to look nice, too.  Pants were not on the nice list.
     By the time I was sixteen bell bottom jeans were popular and soon to be the norm.  No one wore pants at school, but mini-skirts were there on the more popular girls.  Hot pants appeared in the summer.
     My first two years of college were spent at a girl's school of about 2,000 students, most of whom got married or transferred after two years.  During my freshman year there was a dress code which required us to wear skirts or nice pants to classes.  Nice meant no jeans.  I think the code was even stricter than I remember; maybe pants were not allowed in classes the first year.  In any case, the code was dropped my second year.  Most of us loved the new freedom to wear what we wanted, and bellbottom blue jeans were everywhere.  The hippie look was in.
     During spring of that year I joined the Mormon church and decided to transfer to Brigham Young University.  Things were very different at BYU.
     The dress code at BYU was very strict.  It seemed like I had gone back in time to the late 50's or early 60's.  Jeans and mini-skirts were not allowed.  I do not remember if I could wear nice pants; at some point I did, but never jeans.  Never on campus.  My skirts all had to be lengthened.  I had granny glasses; I guess they were a bit extreme and my roomies thought I had been a hippie (which I never even came close to).  I adjusted to the look and had no complaints; in fact, it enhanced the spirit of the campus.
     This past week there was a lot in the news about the star BYU basketball player who had to leave the team because of violation of the school's honor code.  In reading about this I remembered my dress code experiences in college.  There was a definite difference in the feel of the campus when the code was dropped. Sloppiness increased.  Rebellion increased. There was less unity and more of the "anything goes" attitude.  Other rules were questioned.
     I watched it all happen and then transferred to BYU,  the other extreme.  My own experience was that BYU's strict enforcement of dress codes/honor codes helped the students.  It gave them some boundaries and discipline.  I suppose that our society doesn't think 18-19 year old students need this, but as a mother of three boys I say many still do to some extent. Many young people go off to college and get lost in the freedom and peer pressure that comes with it.  They just aren't ready for that much freedom and often "hang themselves" the first year or two. I see nothing bad about schools having some rules and enforcing them.
     I enjoyed college, especially BYU.  I am so glad I had the opportunity to go there.  It was a wonderful learning experience.  I will quit now before this turns into a Musiolarant!


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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.