Everyone has had to follow the rules of a dress code at one time or another – maybe you’ve dressed up for a religious service, worn athletic gear for gym class, or gone to a school where students wore uniforms. Centenary Collegiate Institute was no different. Some of the rules of attire were for practical reasons, but many rules were in place so that students would look presentable, respectful, and appropriate. Here are examples how students dressed throughout the years:
Centenary Collegiate Institute Catalog, 1894-1895:
“All articles of wearing must be distinctly marked in a conspicuous place with the owner’s full name. Ladies attire should be simple and neat, not elegant and expensive.”
[It is interesting to note that no attention was given to gentlemen’s attire. In later years, the latter line was changed to “An expensive or extensive wardrobe is unnecessary.”]
“The Ways and Customs of C.C.I.”, 1917:
“Care should be taken that you always appear clean and neat…On all school days, wear simple, plain dresses/wash dresses/plain waists and skirts. When cold weather comes, a one piece or sailor suit of serge should be worn. Simple white dresses without colored trimmings are required for dinner and the evening. For cold days, a Liberty cape of light color will be found useful. Wear sensible shoes with sensible heels. High heels required from Thanksgiving to Easter. Slippers or pumps may be worn in the evening only. On Sundays, wear a suit and nice waist or a separate dress and coat. White is not required on Sundays. For athletics, wear plain white middy, dark blue bloomers, black stockings and black sneakers. No bare knees.”
“Handbook of the Student Government Association”, Centenary Junior College (some time from 1939 – 1956, likely the 1940s):
“…Include in your wardrobe such basic things as a good tailor suit, several skirts…for dinner, simple dress will do the trick (white sports dresses and white blouses and a skirt). Bring anklets, blouses, several date dresses for informal week-ends, an evening dress that will be at home at any occasion, a strictly formal dream dress for…special occasions, an odd jacket or two, and slacks to study in.
“…Don’t forget that we wear white dresses to dinner from Monday thru Thursday, and for appearance sake we wear heels and street dresses for Sunday dinner and Vespers. We are allowed to wear slacks downtown only in bad weather. [Slacks are] only allowed at the breakfast and noon meals on Saturday…No raincoats in the dining room…P.J.’s may never, never be worn to meals. Bathrobes are worn only in the dorms, but trench coasts with P.J.’s rolled up are O.K. in the grill and library.”
Student Handbook of Centenary College for Women, 1957-8
“Centenary girls dress simply. Use as much as possible of your present wardrobe…Remember that good taste, cleanliness, neatness, and simplicity are the foundation of that well-dressed look.”
Students were encouraged to bring items for specific purposes:
In Class: Socks – knee high or anklet, Loafers or some type of campus flat, Cottons – simple dresses, skirts, and blouses, Woolens – skirts and sweaters
On Campus: Bermuda shorts, Dungarees, Slacks, Casual coat and jacket
Dating: Hose, Dress shoes, Evening slippers, Woolen dress, Dressy dress, Suit, 1 or 2 formals, Dressy coat, Accessories – hat, gloves, etc.
Dinner: A simple dress or a skirt and sweater or blouse will do the trick.
For Special Occasions: A white dress or a white skirt and sweater or blouse
At that time, the college felt that the students were representing the school as much as they were representing themselves when they were off campus, and they were always expected to look respectable. Suggestions and/or requirements on what to bring were for their benefit and the benefit of the school.
The 2018 Student Handbook does not include wardrobe restrictions or requirements, and students have the freedom to dress how it suits them (pun absolutely intended). Of course, some aspects of a dress code remain in place, as our sports teams still have their uniforms, students bring business attire for important academic events, and there will always be dances to get dressed up for!