Over the course of this term, the biggest topic of conversation has been the dress code. This was sparked by Dr. Curtis sending an email to the female student body about her expectations of how they should dress.
While there is a very constructive conversation going on about the girls dress code, I want to talk about the boys dress code. Some have advocated for either modifying it or abolishing it completely. I wholeheartedly disagree with that. One of the reasons given is that there is no way to make the girls dress code more formal, so as to be on par with the boys dress code. Because of this, some think that there is an imbalance between the boys and girls as it relates to dress. I personally think that things are fine as is.
Our boys dress code is a huge part of what defines Deerfield. If you look at our admissions viewbook, “101 Things to Love about Deerfield,” one of those 101 things is the Windsor knot. I myself prefer the four-in-hand, but you get the point. And while I do believe that there is much more to Deerfield than just our dress code, I also firmly believe that it is an indispensable part of the culture here.
If you ask a student at another prep school what they think of when they think of Deerfield, aside from our exceptionally strong academic programs and sports teams, they will tell you that they think about our dress code. That dress code has defined Deerfield since the days of Mr. Frank Boyden, and it would be a disgrace to throw that all of that history away. Some might say that just because it is a tradition doesn’t mean that we have to keep it. To that I say that this is a tradition that we should keep because it sets us apart from our peer schools; it shows that we maintain a standard of excellence.
There are also real benefits to the boys dress code. When I wake up in the morning, I do not have to think too hard about what I want to wear. I’ll brush my teeth, take a shower, find a pair of khakis, a blazer, a blue or white shirt, and maybe I’ll spend a minute or two figuring out what tie I want to wear. Then I’ll put on a pair of loafers and head to class. That’s it. I don’t have to spend an hour agonizing over my outfit. At the end of the year, that’s a lot of time I’ve saved that can be put to much better use.
That, and it tells me that what I’m doing is important. When I put on a jacket and tie in the morning, I know that it is because I am about to receive some of the best education in the world, and that someday, I’ll put it to good use.
Some say that our dress code fosters a sense of elitism among the boys here, in part because of the cost associated with purchasing clothes for class. While that is a fair point, I believe that the benefits of class dress far outweigh the costs. I believe that our dress code pushes us to better ourselves because more is expected of us. Because of how well dressed we are when we go to class, there is an expectation that we do the absolute best we can do. It would be far different if we all went to class in sweats. When you dress for success, unsurprisingly, you succeed. A study done in the magazine Scientific American found that participants in business attire were taken more seriously, and landed more lucrative deals than their counterparts in casual clothing. I think that this proves my point.
I’d like to finish this by saying one thing. Everywhere you look, traditions are being scrapped, or “modernized.” But here at Deerfield, we have a long history of doing things differently. From sit-down meals to our policy banning phones on the path, we have set ourselves to a higher standard than our peer schools. So let’s do that. Let’s be worthy and keep the boys dress code.