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The Cost of Fitting In

Dress code at Friends Academy is a subject of controversy every year. Despite efforts to promote Quaker values through a seemingly simple dress code, students and faculty alike often agree it does the opposite. In this piece, I would like to highlight just one particluar issue with the dress code, which is a product of the environment. At a high cost prep-school like this one, many students come from wealthy backrounds and their dress reflects this. Perhaps the intention of having such a business-like dress code is to reflect this wealth. The truth about high school is most students try desperately to fit in, especially with how they look. The standard of dress code at Friends leaves those from other backrounds or financial situations, struggling to dress in a way which keeps up with their classmates. To investigate this further I have put together a typical outfit worn by the average female student, and a typical outfit worn by the average male student. I have purposely limited my search to this gender binary, because they are simply the only two identites the school validates as legitimate in their dress code.

Female Outfit

1) Excursion Quilted Down Vest from J. Crew ($120.00)

Image courtesy of J.Crew.com
Image courtesy of J.Crew.com

2) Pleated Wool Skirt from Vinyard Vines ($148.00)

Image Courtesy of vinyardvines.com
Image Courtesy of vinyardvines.com

3) Oxford Stripe Button Down from Vinyard Vines ($88.00)

 

Image courtesy of vinyardvines.com
Image courtesy of vinyardvines.com

4) Ivyfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe from Sperry ($90.00)

Image courtesy of sperry.com
Image courtesy of sperry.com

5) Magic Alhambra Long Necklace, Van Cleef ($5,300.00)

Image Courtesy of vancleefarpels.com
Image Courtesy of vancleefarpels.com

6) Magic Alhambra Earrings, Van Cleef ($5,500.00)

Image Courtesy of vancleefandarpels.com
Image Courtesy of vancleefandarpels.com

Without including the price of the jewelry, the average outfit costs about $450.00. This is just for one day. Most girls rarely repeat outfits, indicating that to keep up with the norm one would need to have many outfits of this caliber. Including jewlery, which is not changed often, the price of the outfit is almost $11,000.00.

Male Outfit

1) Vinyard Whale Tie from Vinyard Vines ($85.00)

Image courtesty of vinyardvines.com
Image courtesty of vinyardvines.com

2) Garment-Dyed Cord Shoulder Shep Shirt ($135.00)

Image courtesy of vinyardvines.com
Image courtesy of vinyardvines.com

3) End on End Cooper Shirt from Vinyard Vines ($128.00)

Image courtesy of vinyardvines.com
Image courtesy of vinyardvines.com

4) Garment-Died Slim-Fit Breaker Pants from Vinyard Vines ($98.50)

Image courtesy of vinyardvines.com
Image courtesy of vinyardvines.com

5) Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat Shoe from Vinyard Vines ($95.00)

Image from sperry.com
Image from sperry.com

In total, the average male's outfit costs at least $541.50. Boys are not held to the same standards for outfit repeating as girls, but they still do not usually wear the same thing in one week. It is also important to note this does not include the blazer that male students are recquired to wear on Thursdays.

Looking at how much the average student spends on the outfits (the outfits I have seen worn most commonly), shows the exclusivity of expectation for dress-code norms. Although this is a hardship of only the minority of Friends students, it does not line up with the Quaker principles of simplicity and equality. A more lenient dress code would recquire articles of clothing which simply cost less than dress clothes do. In an effort to equalize the habits of dress, the school has isolated those unable to keep up financially.

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous October 17, 2015

    THANK YOU!!!!!!! #someonesaidit

  2. Maximo Lipman October 17, 2015

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    I think our dress code illuminates one of the biggest questions facing Friends: Who are we, and what do we really stand for?

    The FA Student and Teacher Handbook states: "The dress code at Friends Academy reflects respect for the traditions and mission of the school and the belief that members of the school community are engaged in a serious and important endeavor".  I'm not really sure what traditions this statement is referring to. As an institution whose mission is rooted in the Quaker testimonies, founded for "the children of Friends and those similarly sentimented", how in any way does this dress code reflect the traditions and mission of our school?  Almost all other Quaker schools across the country do not implement a dress code like this, and most Quakers, including our Quaker in Residence, agree that this standard does not adequately reflect Quaker values.

     Furthermore, is it possible to be engaged in a "serious and important endevour" without a dress code?  We insist on promoting the value of equality to our students, so what message our we sending to them by insisting that this kind of clothing must be worn to be taken seriously?  Additionally, in honoring our testimony of equality, how in any way does this dress code promote equality amongst boys and girls? Not to mention, it does not even offer options for those who are gender nonconforming, nor even acknowledge the exhistence of those who are non-binary.

    There are two very conflicting voices at Friends.  At one end, we strive to be viewed as an elitist, rich-kid prep school, while at the other, pretend to uphold the Quaker testimonies.  Bottom line — these two sides just don't mix.  You'd just think that after 139 years we'd have it figured out by now.

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