Enforcement of BOD Dress Code Sparks Creativity

This school year’s updated dress code has prompted O’Dowd students to find unique ways to let their personality and expression shine


Mia Stillman and Ramona McNish

With the introduction of new administration as we roll in the school year, dress code has quickly become one of the most debated topics on campus. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic the O’Dowd’s dress code was relaxed for the 2021-2022 school year, but return to campus after summer break comes a return to the original expectations: polos and O’Dowd sweatshirts, no sweatpants or leggings, and the administration’s campaign against shirt-tying or cropping.

The iconic O’Dowd polo was originally introduced into the dress code in 2004, in an attempt to emphasize the role of Catholicism at O’Dowd by aligning with the other institutions in the diocese. It is typical of Catholic schools to have a uniform. However, O’Dowd’s modified take on the traditional plaid skirt and khaki look reflects the school’s values. “We wanted to align with other Catholic schools, but not get too far from what O’Dowd is. O’Dowd has always been a step ahead in a way, we try to be different from other Catholic schools,” says Dean of Students, Shannon Donahue, when asked about the looser dress code.

She dress-coded a student as I sat in her office for interview, giving him the choice of a gray or purple polo, and sending him back to class with a sigh. “Last year didn’t go well for us, but I think last year was a tough year for us overall. This year has been more of a reset. There’s always 1-2% of the kids who will push the limit, but kids have been actually really good with it so far this year.” She cites the modified dress code for the recent heatwave and praises the student body for its compliance.

“We’ve had a lot more emphasis on teachers being responsible for dress code as well, which has helped.” She explains the new “quiet checks” that have been implemented this year, in which teachers receive an email from administration, and send in a log of dress code violations in their class. “We’re attempting to not disrupt class while still keeping our eyes open.” 

As the uniform is enforced more strictly, students are prompted to express themselves within the required dresscode by adding their own unique flair to their outfits. Students are required to either wear a polo, an O’Dowd hoodie, crew neck or zip up, with pants and shoes of the students’ choice. There has been a rise in flannels and leather jackets worn over polos this year, as well as an explosion of hair accessories: claw clips, ribbons, and as the fall sets in, beanies. Pants have become more variegated too, while regular jeans and khakis are still popular, the elimination of sweatpants and leggings has inspired plaid pants, longer skirts, and denim mini skirts. Students also express themselves through unique makeup looks, and hairstyles. Additionally, many students now sport tote or messenger bags rather than the classic backpack look, another way of personalizing one’s at-school-look. Senior, Anna Challberg summarizes the importance of expressing your individual style, “I like clothes that make me feel confident.”

Mika Quick ’23 spices up her uniform outfit with fishnet stockings and Doc Martens.
Grace Oakley ’23 swaps out the traditional backpack for a cool tote she got from the Rex Orange County concert.
MJ Wilson Morris ’23 sports his cool star eyeliner and ear gauges.
Anna Challberg ’23 sports her fashionable take on the uniform with plaid pants and a leather jacket.