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Strapless Dresses and School Dress Code – Parents vs School

Strapless Dress Banned Parents and School Dress Code

I recently came across this article about strapless dresses at an 8th grade formal dance. While not on the level of some other recent news events, this article really caught my eye. Where there’s a ban on something, there’s likely to be a protest and some controversy.

As I read through the article, I was not disappointed. This school in New Jersey is sponsoring an 8th grade formal, but it is off-campus and the parents are evidently paying the bill. The school is enforcing a dress code that effectively bans strapless clothing items, which means dresses in this case.

I have found a few other versions of this story, but I can’t find many more details. This is a multi-faceted topic and it raises a number of questions and thoughts in my mind. I’m not saying I have an authoritative answer for any of them. But it’s an important topic for you and me to wrestle with. This article isn’t just about girls and what they wear, by the way. Let’s dig in.

Why is the school sponsoring a formal dance for 8th graders?

Perhaps this is just me being a fuddy duddy, but I’m not sure why this level of formal dress is necessary for 13 and 14 year olds when high school is just around the corner. What makes prom all that special when you’re dressing so formally in 8th grade?

Also, the school has put themselves in a bit of a spot here. They are applying their universal dress code to this dance, which bans strapless clothing. Yet they are sponsoring a formal dance, which means girls are expecting to wear prom dresses. Trying to find a prom dress that’s not strapless sounds like a highly challenging quest from what I understand.

So again, I ask why the school is sponsoring this type of dance when it will be challenging for parents and kids to comply (even if they are all for it)? Making this dance semi-formal would take away the expectation that creates the conflict.

What about the families that are on board with this dress code?

As you might expect, the article only featured parents who are prepared to protest the dress code. I wonder if there’s actually a large number of parents who may find it challenging to work around the strapless thing, but don’t have a problem following the dress code. The hype from a few may be masking a quiet majority.

If I have an issue with the dress code, it would be how much advance notice the parents got from the school. As a parent, I couldn’t see myself fighting this on principle. However, I can understand frustration from parents who have already bought dresses and now need to make an adjustment.

Knowing that many parents might buy dresses early, the school could have made this clear months ago. Also, I wonder if the code was different last year or what else made parents thought they could get strapless dresses in the first place. Not quite enough information to get the big picture it seems.

Stay Tuned

There’s more coming from me in a few days. I have a few more thoughts on this article that I couldn’t fit into this post.

I understand you may not all agree with me and that’s fine. This is meant to be a place of discussion and sharing. What do you think? Do the parents have the right idea protesting the dress code? Or is the school right to stick to the original restriction on strapless clothing?

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Strapless Dresses and School Dress Code – Parents vs School

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2013). Strapless Dresses and School Dress Code – Parents vs School. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Apr 2013
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