Fitting in to business casual

Noa Kattler Kupetz


What exactly does “business casual” mean to a high schooler? With the beginning of another school year, Milken students grapple with a seemingly ongoing crisis—the newly revamped dress code.

When classes were dismissed last June, the Milken student body knew that in two months, they would need a fresh set of school books and a wardrobe of collared shirts. Yet after a summer message from the administration that renounced the polo policy, we have been left in confusion over dress standards.

“There are three core pieces of our student handbook. Respect for learning, respect for property, and respect for self and others,” Dr. Roger Fuller, Upper School Principal, said.

The bottom line: dress modestly and respectfully. If every student looked to these words with the same perception, dress code would not be an issue. However, there are many different interpretations of what acceptable “business casual” attire is.

Headed by Sacha Smith ’14, a group of students, called ‘Trendy Girls’, have formed to instigate a trend of uniforms.

“I didn’t know how far I could get the school or students to go with wearing uniforms, so I thought that the best way to start would be to just get straight to it,” Smith said.

Smith created a Facebook group and began posting about her uniform initiative. After receiving positive feedback from a large number of the group’s members, Smith and about six other girls ordered uniforms from an online site, and have begun to don them at school.

Rather than pushing the administration to establish a dress code for the entire school, the Trendy Girls have decided to take action and wear a uniform by choice.

“It isn’t being enforced by the school yet, so the kids who don’t want to participate are not being punished. It’s just an easy way to get around dress code and look cute,” Smith said.

Though the pleated grey skirts and polos around campus relieve the struggles of dressing for some students, they add to the angst of others. The uniforms symbolize a greater issue at hand; do we need strict rules to outline the definition of respect, or can we handle dressing respectfully on our own?

The collar ruling wasn’t dropped to business casual to simply confuse the student body. Business casual provides us with guidelines. It lets us dress to respect our learning environment while still having the dignity of choice. Business casual allows for certain students to experiment with uniforms, and for those uninterested, to pass unaffected. The dress code we have now isn’t a punishment; it’s a path that, if followed, will lead Milken to a superior level of appearance and integrity.

As Fuller said at the first town meeting of the year, “Don’t dress for the gymnasium. Dress for the academy.” It’s about accurately representing ourselves as a school of great learning and high morals. We’re still wearing t-shirts and grappling with creating a standard definition of respectful apparel, but we’re potentially moving in a better direction. Though this new dress policy may seem unenforced and confusing, it ideally shapes the humble, courteous Milken the school aims to be.

Anonymous members of the Roar staff pose out of dress code