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HIGH LIFE : Dress Codes: You Are What You Wear

January 23, 1988

Most public high schools have some sort of limited dress code, usually pertaining to community standards of decency and safety regulations. Private high schools, on the other hand, are free to enforce whatever dress codes they desire. Often their rules are much more strict, for a variety of reasons.

Here's a look at some of the responses to this week's Hot Topic: "Does your high school have a dress code, and if so, what are its requirements?"

Bethel Baptist

The private Santa Ana school's administrators consider their dress code an integral part of character development. Boys must wear ties and cannot wear tennis shoes. They are asked to avoid extreme fashions, tuck in their shirts and wear their hair in a style that does not extend below the collar or ears. Girls are also asked to avoid extreme styles of dresses that do not reach the knees. They are not permitted to wear slacks, pantsuits or tennis shoes. Both boys and girls may not wear any clothing with emblems, symbols or writing of any kind.


--Roxane Dyrud, 15, freshman

California Lutheran

The private Tustin school's dress code is based on the principles of modesty, decency, neatness and cleanliness. Since the school trains its students to reflect their religious beliefs, proper dress is of concern. Philippians 4:5 says, "Let your moderation be known to all men."

--Bernette La Duca, 17, senior

Capistrano Valley

"Our dress code is pretty general in nature," said Don Jeisy, vice principal. "Students must dress appropriately, and footwear is required on campus."

Christopher Orlando, 18, said, "I think it is irrelevant, because how you dress has no bearing on one's ability or capacity to learn."

--Darcy Griffin, 18, senior

Fountain Valley

Clothing and jewelry promoting illegal or harmful substances--such as alcohol and drugs--are prohibited, as is clothing that contains obscene words and words that are deemed prejudicial toward any ethnic or religious group. Also prohibited is anything that can cause bodily harm--such as metal-studded belts, jackets and wristbands--beach wear and extreme hair styles or makeup that distract from the learning process.

--Kristin Hardeman, 17, senior


The purpose of the dress code for this private school in Orange is to "help students maintain a sense of Christian modesty and decorum." Some of the requirements, according to the student handbook: Pants that cannot be worn include "camouflage, Army, painter pants and the like"; jogging attire, sweat suits and "immodest, tight-fitting, and/or revealing garments." Girls cannot wear "low-neckline, backless, or bare-midriff blouses or dresses." Tank tops and T-shirts "shall be covered by a shirt, blouse or pullover sweater." Also, no "offensive pictures and/or slogans of bands, products etc." will not be allowed on a student's "clothing, shoes and/or body." No male student will be permitted to wear "makeup and/or earrings."

--Krista Imboden, 16, junior


The dress code, imposed by the Anaheim School District--which includes Anaheim, Cypress, Katella, Kennedy, Loara, Savanna and Western high schools--does not allow clothing considered offensive in the style it's worn or the message it conveys. The school does not permit clothing that promotes alcoholic beverages, drugs, displays parts of the naked body, denotes sexual contact or contains the use of vulgar language.

--Cynthia Dewell, 16, junior

Mater Dei

Administrators at this private Santa Ana school believe that respect for the school community is manifested by an attitude of "dressing up" rather than "dressing down." The girls' code consists of a uniform skirt worn to the middle of the knee with a white, button-down or pointed-collar blouse. Girls may wear solid-colored sweaters and must wear solid-colored socks. One pair of small, non-dangling earrings is permitted. The boys' uniform consists of neat, solid-colored slacks of optional fabric with the exception of denim. Faddish pants such as multizippered and multipocketed are not allowed. Solid-color, button-down or golf-style shirts with collars may be worn. Socks are required. Male students must be clean-shaven at all times. Earrings and excessive jewelry are not allowed.

--Tonya Diaz, 16, junior

Whittier Christian

The student handbook reads, "We caution against extreme fads because they most often conflict with our dress standards and frequently imitate elements of the subculture which oppose Christian principles." Thus, in addition to other restrictions, no clothing printed with pictures or words is permitted, and neither are "heavy metal" accessories.

--Lara Voloshin, 17, senior

Next Week's Hot Topic: What's "in" and what's "out" at your high school?

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