As the Winter Banquet makes its approach, the buzz about what to wear for the formal event is becoming more uproarious than usual.

Earlier this week, there was an email from the principal to all of the girls attending this year’s Winter Banquet about the updated dress code restrictions. Upon taking a closer look at the updated rules, the first to spark my attention was only two sentences down: “Add straps to your strapless dresses to keep the neckline securely held in place at the proper height to avoid exposing cleavage.” It seemed that HBA had completely eliminated strapless dresses from formal functions. However, the administration further clarified after the email that while it is not a requirement to have straps, it is ‘highly recommended’ for the Winter Banquet. (Prom is a completely different subject.)

[one_third]The few added restrictions take away more breathing room from the minimal amount we were left with before.[/one_third]

HBA formal event dress codes have always been strict, and while it is mostly understandable considering the conservativeness of our school, this year’s changes seemed to have caused the biggest uproar among students. The distress does not stem simply from a desire to show some shoulder, but rather, over the new obstacles that are now placed in front of us (females) when it comes to shopping for that special dress.

Finding a dress is already a challenge, not to mention the ultimate frustration that comes with trying to find one at a decent price. Dresses at most department stores can range well into the hundreds, and most of them already do not meet the previous standards that HBA has set. Going to a highly conservative school, I always thought this was understandable and only required a slightly more in depth dive into the sea of clothing racks.

Maybe attaching straps isn’t a necessity in your case, or wouldn’t alter the appearance of your find too much, and while that is a victory in and of itself, we are now faced with even more possible alterations. Another updated dress code restriction in the email was this: “Sweetheart and teardrop necklines must include an insert so that cleavage is covered.” Yes, don’t complete your appointment with that seamstress company just yet. While this may be a little less grueling than the straps predicament, it still falls into the wallet-clearing category. If any cleavage is at all visible, one must now venture out and find a matching fabric that can be placed in the space of the dress’s neckline. Now, we have two potential alterations to an already expensive dress, and there is another obstacle that this could pose: What is the likelihood that you will find, at one of the few fabric retailers on the island, a fabric that truly matches your dress? Having to attach extra material is both time consuming and costly, as specific arrangements for specific supplies are now required. If it hasn’t already, dress-stress will definitely now take its toll on you.

My frustration only stopped after I came across rule number three: “…If you are busty, your neckline must be high enough so that the top of the bodice lies flat against your chest, covering the top of your breasts.” With the ranging shapes of the female body, there are definitely girls who are on the bustier side . What does that mean for them? Simply pulling up your dress isn’t always going to be a reasonable solution for covering up; it’s not that easy. What is a reasonable solution, then? It simply leaves us with general hassle of having to possibly go out and find a new dress altogether. For those on the extremely busty side, it makes this process even more difficult. It’s always been a rule at HBA that the neckline of the dress must touch your armpits, and while maybe it sounds laughable, it’s definitely not a humorous matter when you’re being reprimanded and told to put on a jacket in the middle of busting out some moves on the dance floor. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen. I mention this rule to vouch for those who have always had the trouble of finding a dress that ‘covers up’ enough of their chest. Maybe you do find a dress that finally lies flat without looking ridiculous, but does it reach your armpits? If you pull it up a little bit more so it does, and now the hem of your dress is far more than three inches above the knee. The main point is to be modestly covered without any cleavage showing; asking for that along with the neckline touching the arm pits seems to be approaching impractical measures. If a dress covers the student’s chest, then the armpit requirement is redundant. As everyone’s body type is different, what covers the chest may not always reach the armpits.

[one_third]Having guidelines is entirely reasonable, though as we undergo the extremely detailed restrictions, it becomes much harder to see the logical reasoning behind it all.[/one_third]

So you’ve found that gorgeous Oriental fuschia strapless dress with an ornate sweetheart neckline that fits you perfectly, only now it’s been through the extreme alterations in order to fit dress code. What are you left with? A stunning $130 dress that now looks, well, homemade.

This blog is in no way intended to insult/question the opinions or authority of our school. The few added restrictions take away more breathing room from the minimal amount we were left with before. The reasons behind having a dress code is understandable; one benefit is that it ensures everyone dresses in good taste. As the years go on, however, female students are being boiled down to a very strenuous order to abide by. The weight such authoritative rules should not overtake nor majorly control the student’s personal choice of outfit. Having guidelines is entirely reasonable, though as we undergo the extremely detailed restrictions, it becomes much harder to see the logical reasoning behind it all.