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Friday, November 27, 2009

Dress Code

I am a alumna (Class of 1957) of a Catholic girls' high school in Brooklyn, NY. I was going through some old mail and found the following note in our alumna newsletter.

This was a letter sent in June 1956 by the faculty to the parents of all the students. They were setting the standards of good grooming and correct attire for school.

1. Hats are to be worn, no kerchiefs. In bad weather, woolen scarves may be used.

2. Shoes are to have a heel at least one inch high. Flats, ballerinas or open toes or heels of shoes will not be permitted.

3. Stockings are to be worn at all times. No socks.

4. Light colored blouses are recommended; no sleeveless, transparent or black blouses will be permitted.

5. Pleated and full skirts are good. Straight skirts are permitted if they are not too tight.

6. Make-up is restricted to lipstick and natural or light nail polish.

7. Eyebrow pencil is not permitted except on seniors who are blonde or red=haired and then, in moderation.

8. Hair should be neat at all times and then in moderation; pony tails are for sportswear, not for school. Only seniors may wear hair in a bun.

9. Penalties attached to these violations may include detention and absence from the School Ring Ceremony and commencement exercises.

They end, "Knowing that you too are interested in upholding the high standards of Memorial, we look forward to seeing your daughter in September, consistently well-groomed and in correct school attire".

At the time I felt these rules were too restrictive, but looking back, I can see they gave me the foundation for proper dress in an office - the Corporate look. Now I also know why, when I told people that I graduated from Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School, they were impressed, especially on job interviews.

Even after all these years, I'm still reluctant to wear a black blouse or sweater. I never did it, but some of the girls did use eyebrow pencil. They used it to draw a seam up the back of their legs to give the appearance of wearing stockings.

But, I wonder if any school could get away with these rules and regulations.

6 comments:

Cromely said...

Interesting. The idea that girls would wear pants is so foreign they don't even mention a prohibition or a requirement they wear skirts.

ms/sss said...

How interesting to read the memo. Most of these problems were not an issue at my High School (Our Lady of Wisdom Academy) because we wore school uniforms... Nylons and white ankle socks and black and white saddle shoes included. However, it was not unusual to feel a slight pinch on the calf of your leg...just Sister being sure that you were wearing nylons and not just a black eyebrow pencil line down the back!
Ah! Those were the days!
ms/sss

ANGELFITZ/SSS said...

I ALSO ATTENDED A CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL. ST. JOSEPH'S IN DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN. WE HAD UNIFORMS BUT WERE ALLOWED TO WEAR LOW BALLERINA SHOES. I DO REMEMBER SISTER MEASURING OUR SKIRTS THOUGH. SOME GALS LIKED TO HIKE THEM UP EVEN THOUGH WE WERE ALL GIRLS. THEY WERE STRICT ABOUT MUCH OF THE SAME THINGS AND WE WERE CONSTANTLY TOLD THAT OUR UNIFORM WAS A REFLECTION OF THE SCHOOL, SO WATCH OUT !!! THE STRICTEST CODE WAS A TRIP TO WASHINGTON OR FOR A JOB INTERVIEW, EVEN PART-TIME. HATS, STOCKINGS AND GLOVES WERE A REQUIREMENT AT ALL TIMES. YOUNG LADIES NEEDED HATS AND GLOVES. WE DID HAVE A UNIFORM TAM ON OUR HEADS AND GOD FORBID YOU LEAVE IT AT HOME. AHHH YES, BUT LIKE YOU STATED MOM, IT DID PREPARE US FOR THE BUSINESS WORLD. GOD BLESS THOSE NUNS.

Snooty Primadona said...

I went to Catholic (Ursuline Academy) girls boarding school but we had to wear uniforms which were navy double breasted blazers with the crest on the pocket and navy plaid pleated skirts, worn with white double breasted blouses. Accessorized with the navy blue beanie and saddle shoes or loafers with bobby socks or knee socks. We all hated them... but, now I think they really looked great.

Pamela said...

girls now don't even know about stockings, much less seams.

I was talking to my sil the other day about how I would get an extra few days out of a pair of hosiery by stopping the snag/run with hair spray or fingernail polish.

She came from "richer" home that I. She jsut threw them away and put on a new pair.

HMK said...

Ah yes, I remember it well!
We felt so persecuted but actually had a fine time trying to get around the rules and just complaining about it.
The dress code united us as a group and is great conversation now.
Good training. The free spirit of the next decade left kids untethered to any rules. Troubles stemmed from that libertine atmosphere
Go Memorial!!