Here Comes The Fashion Police?

Teen fashion transgressions seem to plague every generation of parents. We’ve all heard or said “You’re Going Out Wearing THAT?” Extreme cleavage, skimpy skirts and shirts, sagging pants with fashion boxers, ghetto-chic styles – we see it all on Baristaville kids. How far does the freedom of personal expression extend, and where do the limits begin? The Montclair Times reports Montclair’s Board of Ed is thinking about drafting new standards, after parents complained about inappropriate, head-spinning styles seen at the high school.

My Ballot Box

Should Baristaville High Schools Tighten The Dress Code?

NO: I’ve got enough battles to fight with my teen.

YES: There’s way too much skin!

DUNNO: At least they’re wearing underwear!

Dress Code, BAH! Put ’em in uniforms!

View Results

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  1. What took them so long?
    The problem the board will encounter is the definition of “appropriate.” We may not be able to precisely describe what is “appropriate” dress for school age children, but we know what “inappropriate” dress is when we see it. And we see too much of it these days.
    Let’s hear the candidates on the issue.

  2. A return to modesty?
    C’mon. This is a generation where everyone got a trophy.
    Where they were told they were special, creative, and individuals who must “express” themselves.
    To this they say:
    Get off my back man, I have to show off my ass or breast tattoo, my underwear, my muffin top…. My BAD self…
    Rules and dress codes are for suckas!!
    “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!!!!!!!”

  3. Yes, these kids today are just out of control. Wild. And the fashions they wear are so incredibly outrageous. Shocking. No decency.
    Said outside Montclair High School in 1917, 1925, 1931, 1937, 1942, 1947, 1950, etc., etc., etc., etc.
    And have you heard that outrageous Rock and Roll – I mean rap — these kids are listening to today. And just last week I actually saw a young couple making out in the Bellevue theater. Outrageous what these kids today are doing publicly. No shame.

  4. Agreed, mets. It would be interesting to get a gander at all the ponytails, Afros, headbands, “fringed” jeans, flag shirts, “peasnt blouses sans brassieres, and the like that are no doubt evident in the photos of these crusaders taken during THEIR high school years.
    But of course, that was different.

  5. “Teen fashion transgressions seem to plague every generation of parents.”
    I think that even Virgil and Sapho said something to this extent.

  6. Yeah, what is up with the muffin tops? People always tell me I look young for my age, but I suspect that younger girls just look old for their ages. I wasn’t a skinny kid but I didn’t have a muffin top.

  7. So let me see if I can summarize the complaint here:
    “Damn kids with my Rock n’ Roll devil music – get off my lawn! In my day we respected our elders! Conform! conform!”
    > How far does the freedom of personal expression extend, and where do the limits begin?
    The limits to one person’s rights end when it starts to infringe on the rights of another person.
    Just because you’re too prudish to handle teen fashion doesn’t mean the teens are infringing upon your rights; consequently you have no power to limit their free expression (which we still value as a society, right?)

  8. Put em in uniforms. Lots of schools are going with the chino/polo shirt combo, which is still pretty casual. For the large majority of families this will reduce the amount that they spend on clothing, and it levels the fashion playing field for kids from different economic backgrounds. Anything that puts more focus on education is good in my book.

  9. I like Spicoli’s idea more than I ever used to think I would. A dress code (which they already have throughout the schools in the district; it’s in the student handbooks)is hard to enforce and can be interpreted differently by different people. I saw a girl outside the high school right before spring break–her dress covered her skin enough to meet the code, but it appeared to be made of latex or airbrushed onto her rather ample body. It was wildly inappropriate for school (or anywhere, really), but I think it would have passed the current code.
    This is also a problem at the middle-school level–a lot of the girls have adult bodies by that point. The outfits some choose attract a lot of attention; that may seem fun initially, but I think they’ll regret those choices. In the meantime, it’s quite distracting. (You can say, don’t look, but that’s like saying not to look at the train wreck. You look.)

  10. The constant but-its-for-the-children-hand wringing that goes on in some of these boards makes me wonder where that concern is now.
    Are parents aware that when the kids grow up they will have to follow a dress code at their jobs?
    That employers will judge them on appearance during interviews?
    If the full day kindergarten being rejected in Bloomfield means that a generation of children won’t be ready for the real world (not my argument, but one I’ve heard over and over) then can’t the same be said in regards to the older kids who seem completely unprepared to interview for a job that doesn?t have a hair net or name tag?

  11. Oh these hot messes. Wear what you want, but in life be prepared to be treated based on how you’re dressed.
    Where are the parents in all of this? I wasn’t given carte blanche to charge skin tight, ass-crack bearing, muffin top promoting, sleeze-gear at Hahnes.
    Who’s making these purchases? Do the ladies have middle aged sugar daddies? They dress like they might.
    Is there a whole lot of babysitting money in the teen economy now? I would have a hard time believing that as no one seems to think that they can actually leave their kids with a real, live, teen babysitter anymore. But that’s another topic.

  12. Wear what you want, but in life be prepared to be treated based on how you’re dressed.

    Amen to that! Kids can dress this way because they aren’t earning their keep yet, but come career time, they’ll either step up and dress up, or find a job that suits their fashion choices (the latter may not be suitable for raising a family or elevating the family name to the next level).
    Kids will always look to the popular influencers of their day, whether it be musicians or hollywood stars. It is the rare child that looks to mommy or daddy for personal style models.

  13. Yes, when they grow up they’ll have to dress a certain way (some of them).
    But they’re not grown up yet. Would you have us believe that earlier generations dressed in jacket and tie, skirt and blazer, in high school? That they are wearing the same outfits now at work (albeit bigger) that they wore then?
    Actually, I went to Catholic school and so dressed better then than I did when I was working, for the most part.
    But short of shirts bearing offensive messages and outfits that are exposing too much skin and causing a distraction, who cares?

  14. 1967:
    I remember the young lassies from “Our Lady Help of Christians”, in East Orange, hiking up their plaid skirts and lighting up their ciggies for the trip home from school.
    I’m like, “Damn, those girls are hot!

  15. I really don’t care what other people wear. It’s not my business. If someone is a size 14 and wants to squeeze into a size 4 or wear piercings all over their face, far be it from me to stop them. One day, when they’re older, they’ll realize they look ridiculous and ask, “What WAS I thinking?”

  16. I am feeling so centered about this topic. But how can I respond with a leftist or rightist point of view if everything stays centered? Are we in Pleasantville?
    H e l p
    H e l p

  17. And it should be “Here Come the Fashion Police” so that the subject and verb agree. Or some such rule like that. Just Conan being Conan.

  18. oh wow..I thought it was me..having everything pop up in the middle of the page..Glad to know it’s the site.
    ok, back to doing stuff..Happy May to All.

  19. And let us not forget the parents…
    I could not imagine my mother letting me be seen with my draws hanging out.
    She’d remind me that I was a reflection of 1) her, 2) my family, and 3) my race.
    I’d scream, but she was the boss.
    Unfortunately now, parents just want to be friends (like the “cool mom” in Mean Girls)…
    So in the absence of parental enforcement or modesty leave it up to the schools to step in…
    (Because who can study with a muffin top in your face!)

  20. Personally I am trying to keep my daughter on the modest side. But she sees the tight tank tops (“but they wear a jacket over it!” — yes, but only as they are leaving the house!) and wants to join in the fun. It is becoming an issue.
    I remember my Jr. High banning “Dolphin” shorts – which were basically very tiny track shorts that even had a little slit on the sides. They really were obscene. It was a smart move then, and I think may become necessary now. Once they are out of school they can dress how they wish … maybe the uniform *is* the way to go.
    My 2 c.

  21. And so my mom would give me the old, “if folks were jumping off a bridge, would you jump too?” line.
    I see this now with parents who let their pre-K kids watch all sorts of violent shows. We don’t.
    But at school all the other kids are talking about shooting, killing and light sabers, etc.
    Good parenting at the very least should be able to direct a child towards what to wear and watch.
    Parents or friends? You can’t be both.

  22. Moreover, I think that many believe that once they buy a nice house in a nice town and provide their children with all the needed (and unneeded) tangibles their work is done.

  23. Here’s something that parents ought to imbue in their children from a young age (and fight tooth and nail over if necessary):
    The appropriateness of someone’s appearance matters. And I don’t mean “appropriateness” in the moral sense of the word. I am thinking of it in a much more pragmatic way. If a young person wants to be seen and thought of as a hooker or a thug, they should understand that how they present themselves in public will influence how people perceive them. Some celebrities (actors, athletes, musicians, etc.) can get away with looking like trash because they are understood by society at large to be eccentric or creative. Or, they are publicly known to be something other than their appearance would suggest. But the anonymous high shool student has no such noteriety to precede his or her appearance.
    Also, most people (and by most I mean virtually all) don’t dress like celebrities because they are not celebrities. People who are famous for being famous (ie: Paris Hilton) need to attract attention to themselves in order to maintain the status they depend on in lieu of a real job. This very often results in an outrageous fashion sense.
    And here’s something else I learned: I went to an art and design college where people majored in painting, illustration, apparel design, industrial design, etc. Many of my fellow students (and this is quite a few years ago) sported crazy haircuts (and hair colors), piercings, tatoos– the works. But I found, time and time again, that the most genuine, creative artists were those people who put more effort into their work than their appearance. So here’s what I would tell my boys when they are old enough: dress how you want to dress, but remember this: it is a mute form of expression by which you allow other people to interpret you in a way that suits them–not you. Put your effort into your character and actions. BE the person you are, don’t just look it. And always remember that we are an accumulation of what we do, not how we look.

  24. Moreover, I think that many believe that once they buy a nice house in a nice town and provide their children with all the needed (and unneeded) tangibles their work is done.
    Prof – so sad, but true.

  25. Bloomfield has a dress code? The school that sells shorts and sweats to girls with the word Bangles across the azz has a dress code? I don’t mean to sound like my usual snarky self but Hooters seems to have the same dress code.

  26. Montclair HS has a dress code, though it seems that it is not well enforced. And someone needs to explain to me exactly what “Jewelry that has projectiles” means.
    Montclair HS Dress Code
    Because no dress code can be all-inclusive, the administration reserves the right to make the final decision on all attire. Students must wear clothing that is safe and not disruptive to the learning environment. Students have a responsibility to attire themselves in a manner that is conducive to an instructional and professional environment.
    For example:
    – Hats, caps, wave caps, and all other types of head coverings are not to be worn inside the Montclair High School buildings. Religious and medical exceptions must be recorded in the Main Office.
    – Clothing and/or accessories must not display/advertise that which could be considered by some to be lewd, offensive or insensitive. This includes, but is not limited to references to sex, drugs and alcohol, discriminatory/inflammatory/ prejudicial statements about race, ethnicity or gender, violence or gang affiliation or sexual orientation, religion, and/or disability.
    – Clothing must not be unduly revealing or distracting. Attire shall be sufficient to conceal undergarments. Hot pants, half-shirts or tops, strapless tops, bare midriffs, low-cut or revealing tops, off-the-shoulder tops, and fish-net type tops or shirts, halter tops, tube tops, tank tops or see-through tops are examples of prohibited clothing.
    Shoe attire
    – flip-flops (thong sandals) and platform shoes are discouraged for safety reasons and shoes with wheels are prohibited.
    – Sunglasses shall not be worn anywhere in school. No student is permitted to wear dark glasses unless doctor approved for medical reasons, prescription sunglasses or heavily tinted glasses will be considered as dark glasses.
    – Jewelry that has projectiles is not permitted.
    – In instances where inappropriate attire is worn, parents may be contacted and asked to bring appropriate clothing to school or to escort their child home to change clothes. When other alternatives are not feasible, students may be held in the office until parent contact can be made or the school may provide appropriate clothing for the day.

  27. spicoli, jewelry with projectiles means studded dog collars and the like.
    They are, it must be admitted, a powerful fashion statement.

  28. That ghetto/inmate look is the pits.
    If you want to wear your pants somewhere between your torso and your knees,you will look utterly ridiculous and completely useless.
    I vote for school uniforms.

  29. Cro – If that is what they mean, the English department needs to proofread the student handbook. A stud on a collar might qualify as a projection. A projectile is an object that can be propelled or fired. Perhaps a Bullet Necklace?

  30. “English department”? Those tweedy, elbow-patch wearin’, sideburn-sportin’, pipe-smokin’ Obama supporters? Are you kidding? They’re too busy drinking their Celestial Seasonings and listening to Norah Jones to be bothered with proofreading!

  31. Perlstein,
    That “ghetto/inmate look” is (now) the look of suburbia– just watch any skate/snowboard competition, their pants are always falling down.
    Or go to Valley/Bellevue tonight and watch all the suburban kids showing off their boxers.
    Just like how tattoos used to be for bikers, sailors and loose women.
    They are now a staple of the mainstream.

  32. Interesting cultural study on that, Prof, as such:
    Females must wear tight pants no matter how fat they are.
    Males must wear baggy pants no matter what.
    What do you suppose the contrast means?

  33. To your previous point, Professor Wms:
    The ghetto/inmate look may have hit mainstream here, but so has, let’s say, sushi, among other things.
    To deny the ghetto/inmate roots of this aesthetic aberration is akin to denying that sushi hails from Japan.
    Yet somehow, sushi, has on average, had no effect, or ever enriched USA culture and the ghetto/inmate clothing code has definitely degraded it.
    Then again, 1 out of every appx. 100 Americans is in jail, I believe.

  34. JP-
    Nice straw man. Why use Sushi when Pizza could have worked too?
    But the point is the negative origin and how the thing is NOW acceptable.
    Sushi was never seen as a negative, thus its acceptance now is irrelevant– much like your point.
    Contrast that to the other example I used: tattoos (which as I indicated were never a mainstream item, but now are).
    See the difference?
    Moreover, I never denied the history of the baggy jean (another nice straw man of yours).
    One thing I do know: pleated khaki’s are not in fashion. (And gentlemen, tuck in those shirts!)

  35. thanks for the clarification, Prof.
    Any thoughts on the requisite
    tight pants female / baggy pants male contrast?

  36. It is clear that you haven’t been watching as the pencil straight jean, tight bottomed (think punk rock) look is in fashion.
    So to this end, the baggie jean is so 2004.
    However, the today’s version of this style is where kids choose to lay their belt.
    In the past fell on ones natural waist. Whereas today, for many boys, it is across their ass– great for showing off those boxers.
    So while I don’t want to get into a fashion debate with those who don’t know, don’t watch and simply spew what may have been true last fashion cycle, I do feel the need to help educate those members of the community who lack in a basic fashion sense.
    Thus trying to work through your “tight pants female / baggy pants male contrast” is moot as boys are wearing much tighter jeans.
    Drive by the high school and look…. It’s all there for you to see.

  37. Professor,
    You suggested I investigate:
    Dropping off my kid today at the high school gym for the SAT exam offered us both current statistical material.
    Findings are as follows:
    The male youths entering the gym today for the SAT test wore their pants significantly higher than the ones who just yesterday were idly loitering in front of the high school.

  38. Prof didn’t see it, as he conducts his “research” on Friday afternoons — always careful to avoid the police lest his interest in teen fashion be “misinterpreted”.
    But how fortunate are we to have the prof ready and willing to “educate” those who don’t see or care, much as he does with grammar. Never mind that his own grammar resembles that of Norm Crosby, or that his “look” is, I’m thinking, pre-diet Al Roker.
    Its all good!

  39. Wow, cro and Perlstein together on this one. Kinda like Starsky and Hutch without the charm and rugged good looks.
    Or rather Harry and Lloyd… (Google it, if you don’t get it….)
    No bother, someone has to continue to rock played out styles– might as well be you two.
    (And cro, you might find mocking big folks fun, I- while no where near pre-diet Al- find it unwarranted and mean. Do you teach your kids to laugh at fat people too?)

  40. Yes prof, I teach my kids to laugh at “big” people. I am not nearly as upright as you, keeping your kids safe from violent games and shows and toys. I could really learn from you just how it ought to be done.
    Ah hell, its more fun to laugh at you, you fat bastard.

  41. “pre-diet Al Roker”
    Al Roker didn’t diet he had a bariatric bypass!
    Hope you don’t teach your kids to laugh at ugly croiag ’cause they’ll be laughing at you.

  42. Wow, I do my homework and the Professor seems to think I lack charm and good looks.

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