How the Dress Code Came to Be

Kelsey Hamilton, Managing Editor

Since the start of the new school year, Seattle Prep has made alterations and updated its dress-code. The full dress code can be found in the Seattle Prep Student Handbook, but the general requirements are that clothing must cover the entire torso, down to the midpoint between the waist and knee. Clothing must also have straps and should be free of holes or tears and should not display vulgar graphics or words.

While some students could argue that the dress code has changed, philosophically, there haven’t been any changes at all. The only alterations have been in the language. “We tried to take out most of the gender-specific language,” explained Hendricks, “in the old system, I can’t think of one that applied to males, almost all of them applied to females. We made it as gender neutral as possible.”

If the dress code hasn’t changed, then why is it so much stricter than in years past? There are two key factors that Hendricks broke down when asked this question. The first being the pandemic. “In the midst of the pandemic, there was a relaxation of a number of different rules,” Hendricks explained, arguing after that, “We’re back to where we were pre-pandemic, in terms of the enforcement.”

The second factor is the change in leadership. With new leadership comes new ideas and philosophies, and Hendricks’ beliefs on how to enforce the dress code are different than the last Dean of Students, Mr. Rich Stearns.

For Hendricks, a big part of his philosophy is considering the context of the situation. What’s respectful and appropriate in a classroom setting can look a lot different than what’s respectful and appropriate for mass. “I looked at a number of different dress codes across the country as well as local catholic schools. We met as an administrative team to get to that language in that context” Hendricks said.

The dress code is a very controversial topic, and it is clear there was a lot of thought put into how it should be worded, perceived, and enforced. The dress code is supposed to be a balance between the workplace dress code and college dress code. “As long as there’s that tension, I think we’re on the right track,” said Hendricks.