The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

Admissions Office Codifies Dress Code

An excerpt of the new Admissions Office Student Dress Code guide, “Wear This, Not That.”

This year, the interns of the Admissions Office received a photograph of Ryan Gosling wearing a ripped Thrasher t-shirt and were told to not follow his example. These instructions came as a part of new booklets entitled “Wear This, Not That.” The booklets contain photographic outfit guidelines meant to discourage “mildly inappropriate dressing” that has occurred in previous years. Although the form of the dress code was new, interns for the Admissions Office call it self-evident, claiming that the code has always existed in some form.

Admissions Intern Stephanie Bastek stresses that the information in the pamphlet is in no way new, describing the dress code as “business casual.” Bastek has worked for the Admissions office since the spring of 2012.

Several coworkers echoed her opinion. Robert Shryock, also an intern in the Admissions Office, says, “It’s expected we dress to represent the college but we are not expected to compromise our style. Unless our style includes not showering.”

Bastek and Shryock report that the dress code itself is no different this year. According to Bastek, the contents were explained to those working in the Admissions Office last year, although the booklet was not distributed. The booklet was called humorous and its message “obvious.” Both Bastek and coworker Laura Naraguma expressed frustration with Reed students outside of the Admissions Office that were upset by rumors of a new dress code.

The “Wear This, Not That” booklet, which was freely offered by Admissions employees, begins with a disclaimer: “This is not meant to constrict your awesome sense of personal style. It is simply a tool for keeping prospies and families engaged in what you have to say without being distracted by your wardrobe (or lack thereof).” [Emphasis in original text.]

A block of text on the inside cover continues in a similar vein, stating that those working in the Admissions Office should make an attempt to dress in a way that would please one’s grandmother. “If your dad would feel uncomfortable with the amount of leg your shorts don’t cover or the mass quantity of chest hair protruding from your shirt, trust us: Someone else’s dad feels even worse,” the pamphlet states.

The remainder of the booklet consists of images on the left side of the page, (captioned “Wear This”) shown next to images on the right (captioned “Not That”). The central message is clear: shorts and skirts should end no sooner than mid-thigh, tank tops are ill advised, and clothing should not be torn—intentionally or otherwise. Some photographic pairings stand out more than others, however. “Wear This, Not That” attempts to make a distinction between skinny jeans and extremely skinny jeans and discourages shirts that read “Oberlin,” “Whitman,” or “University of Chicago.”

Admissions interns take little issue with the dress code, agreeing that these regulations are perfectly reasonable in a working environment. “People get away with a lot of silly clothes here at Reed, just not at work,” says Naraguma.

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