City’s Laid-Back Dress Code Enables Student Expression


Catalina Armstrong

Catalina Armstrong, Reporter

Dress coding students has always been a controversial matter in high schools. Fashion in 2023 has progressively changed a lot over the years, and expression through clothing is very important to many students. The decision of the Iowa City Community School District to abolish the dress code policy has had a beneficial impact. The ICCSD is in charge of determining the dress code for our ICCSD schools and has worked to represent best practice in terms of respecting all body types and the viewpoints of expression in fashion. 

This group has received feedback from school administrators and has accommodated the official dress code policy to fit the expectations and requirements for appropriate clothing. 

“I think it’s really good for students to be able to wear what they want and express themselves at school,” said Veda Fitzpatrick ‘24. 

Teenagers have many pressures in our society and fashion plays a big part in that. Social media trends and fashion influences have inspired teenagers to express themselves more in 2023 than ever. Expression through clothing includes expressing various identities and viewpoints. Society has pressed many rules and influences that young people feel they must follow to “fit in” which has caused additional stress on top of academic, extracurricular, and other responsibilities. 

“Being comfortable in an environment where you often have to do things you aren’t comfortable with I feel is really important,” said Fitzpatrick. “A lot of students struggle with school and having another requirement of a dress code on top of that would just be too much.”

A student’s level of comfort with the clothing they wear to school can have a huge impact on how they perform in school. Furthermore, a study by Austin Community College found that the better people felt in their clothing at school, the better they did on assessments. 

The ICCSD has made it possible for students to wear whatever they feel fits their physical appearance and personality best as long as their clothing doesn’t have profanity. Elements of the dress code that are still in place are that students are not supposed to have clothes that have alcohol advertisements or marijuana on them. 

Dress coding students for wearing outfits they feel secure and confident in has a big impact on their self image. Forcing students to wear clothes that do not allow them to show who they are can have a negative effect on student’s confidence and even academic success. The ICCSD and City High administration has done a successful job in making sure to support students’ expression. 

We have learned that it’s okay to just let people be themselves, and that it’s not creating a crisis in our classrooms because somebody might choose to wear a certain garment a certain way,” said Principal John Bacon. 

One of the core ideas of a more laid back dress code is that everybody’s bodies are different. Every body type has its own unique structure and fits into clothing pieces in its own distinct way. Therefore, schools should not have rules on dress coding students that have more skin showing than another. 

“All different body types fit different clothes in different ways. And that’s not really our place to be judgmental about that kind of thing,” said Bacon. 

Times have changed and fashion styles are developing every day. Clothing is much different than it was in the past, and peoples’ expressions are too. 

“In the year 2023, we want to be as inclusive and accepting of everybody as possible; with student’s choice to express themselves in their clothing in the manner that they see fit,” said Bacon.