Denison’s dress code double standard

Is there a dress code for sunnies? Is is there a dress code for class?

These two settings are almost completely polar opposites, yet the way people behave, including the way they dress, says a lot about a campus culture.

Before I came to college I had a very clear vision in my head of rolling out of bed and going straight to class in my pajamas. You can’t blame me, I went to a Catholic high school with uniforms. I legitimately dreamed about the day I could go to class in cozy flannel pants.

However, the minute I stepped onto Denison’s campus I knew this wasn’t going to be the case. As many fellow women can relate to, I immediately looked at the girls around me as examples for how I should be dressing around campus. To my dismay, sweatpants and pajama bottoms were nowhere to be found. I vividly remember my overnight host saying that Denison students “dressed up” for class. I didn’t audibly groan, but I’m sure I made some snarky comment in my head.

As a sophomore now, I can say with certainty that this statement is somewhat true. I’ve found that the unwritten daytime dress code for girls, no matter the season, includes: jeans or leggings, a nice sweater/top and sneakers.

Let’s take the Sunnies for example. In my four semesters as a Denisonian, never have I worn an outfit to class and kept it on to go to the Sunnies that night. Now, do you think the same is true for the men you know? To me, there’s practically a Sunnies uniform for girls: Tube top/bodysuit and jeans, or maybe a denim skirt if it’s warm, and sneakers that were once white.

This isn’t- by any means- outrageous. My belief is that the women on Denison’s campus tend to dress slightly more formal than women on other college campuses and that athleisure wear isn’t as prevalent. As for our men? It’s harder for me to say. Since I’m a woman, it might go without saying that I pay more attention to what other women are wearing than what guys are wearing. I think it’s more than just me being a woman; I think our society pays more attention to what women wear over men in general. Which is why, based on my observation, I think that the unwritten dress code for guys is more similar to that of other college campus. I see guys wearing sweatpants all. The. Time. Tube socks pulled up to the knee to look like a Grandpa? You bet. I guess it’s supposed to complement their ratty tennis shoes?

The underlying theme I’ve noticed is that women are putting much more of an effort into their looks everyday. Wow, I might as well have just told you the sky is blue! Yes, I’m aware how much time you spend getting ready is a personal choice, and I’m not here to tell you that you should be doing more or less of it. All I’m saying is that there are fundamental, unwritten rules in place about how women are supposed to dress in certain settings.

Sophia Bellone ‘21 is a communication and creative writing double major from Chicago, Illinois.

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