NJ School Bans Strapless Dresses at Dance, Calls Them Too ‘Distracting’

BY  |  Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013 1:57pm

Strapless DressesEight grade girls at Readington Middle School in Readington, NJ, have been given a dress code for their school dance—no strapless dresses.

The school’s principal, Sharon Moffat, wrote a letter to parents laying out a dress code of “collared shirts and trousers for boys, and a skirt or dress with straps for girls.” After parents complained, she said her reason for the strapless dress ban is because she considers them “too distracting for boys.”

Parents are up in arms for their daughters’ right to bare arms. They have petitioned the school board  to overturn the policy before the June 12th dance. Girls at the school have been wearing strapless dresses for years.  NJ.com reports that one parent, Charlotte Nijenhuis, views the ban to be an attack on women’s rights and discrimination based on sex. In a three-page letter to the superintendent, Nijenhuis wrote that the decision is “arbitrary and capricious and a violation of every girl’s fundamental rights afforded by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.” She also noted that strapless gowns have been allowed at the school  for at least six years.

Young women and women have been wearing the style of dress much, much longer. The strapless dress has been in style since the 1930s, and was embraced by women for formal wear. But the style has not been without controversy. During the 1940s and 1950s, Catholic campaigners in the United States protested against “immodest” clothing.

How do you feel about the strapless dress ban? Take our poll:

(Photo: Flickr)


  1. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  April 24, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

    I know this my father sure as shootin’ would not have allowed my 8th grade butt out of the house in a strapless dress!

    It is not as though there are not thousands of dress options out there. If boys were going to a dance with their drawers hanging out or in a mesh tee showing there nipples I’m sure that would be banned as well. Gosh I sound old.

  2. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  April 24, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

    Schools have various dress policies and that’s the policy for that event. If they don’t like it they can stay home.

  3. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  April 24, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

    Seems like yesterday I was sent home for wearing my Sex Pistols tee shirt.

  4. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  April 24, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

    Their nips not there.

  5. POSTED BY lssb  |  April 24, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

    There isn’t much difference between strapless and spaghetti straps, so this rule seems pointless. But the “too distracting” argument is the same reason that’s given for burkas, isn’t it?

  6. POSTED BY martiroam  |  April 24, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    Beyond this, cross-dressing teens need the right to mix it up gender-wise. This is a very unwise edict.

  7. POSTED BY montypython  |  April 24, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    Honestly, why would a 13 year old need to wear a strapless dress? There must be more appropriate dresses out there. Too bad we are pushing these young kids to be more grown up than their ages are. They have their whole high school, college and 20’s to look sexy.

  8. POSTED BY MellonBrush  |  April 24, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

    As a high school junior at East Orange High School (Spring 1968) I vividly remember a young lady being escorted from school premises for violating dress code, by wearing a mini skirt that was just above her mid-thigh; pretty tame by today’s standards. It almost caused a riot, seriously.

  9. POSTED BY kay  |  April 24, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

    I have to agree with the ban. There’s no reason that 8th graders need to grow up so fast, and start wearing slinky cocktail dresses meant for college girls when they are barely old enough to stay home alone for a couple of hours! And the sad fact is that many parents don’t think twice about it – sure, let ’em wear whatever they want – and let their bra straps and slips hang out too. (oh wait, I don’t think girls wear slips anymore.) skanky.

    My girl would have ****never*** been allowed to wear something like that in 8th grade!!

    Holly, I’ll come sit on a rocking chair with you at the old folks’ home anytime!

  10. POSTED BY legalmomma  |  April 24, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

    The ban is ridiculous considering what is arguably allowed as an alternative — dresses with cut outs, super short or tight dresses, and the ugly but in fashion sheer fabrics. Strapless can be tasteful without be slutty — Grace Kelly, anyone? As long as the strapless dress isn’t skin tight or super short, what’s the harm?

  11. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  April 24, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

    Parent and stop trying be your child’s friend.

  12. POSTED BY Kristin  |  April 24, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

    Somehow, that the mother is citing Constitutional rights for this makes me get a very clear picture of what she is like.

  13. POSTED BY ecoaster  |  April 24, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

    Only in Jersey would a dress code for an EIGHTH grade dance cause an uproar from parents– AGAINST the code.

    That said… it was handled poorly. The principle should have just set the rules and said no one is required to attend if they don’t like it and left it at that.

  14. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  April 24, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

    This is what my dad would have called a “whistling-come-on-back”. If I tried to head out the door in anything too short or tight he would whistle and shout, “Come on back! Where the hell do you think you are going?”

    One of my old pals has a name for little girls who have mommas that like them in grown-up clothing—-“Lil’Hooker”. When Lil’Hooker is in 8th grade she is now called Teen Hooker.

    Kristen come on don’t you want to protest with this woman? I think it would look something like this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBShN8qT4lk

  15. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  April 25, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    Kids today!

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