Summer is finally here in the Northern hemisphere and while girls and women are celebrating the warm weather with sundresses, shorter skirts and sleeveless tops, many boys and men are… wearing the same long pants and long-sleeved button downs to school and work that they always have.
This year they’re protesting summer dress codes by showing up to school and work in skirts – and I think it’s great!
Boys at Isca Academy in Exeter wear skirts to school in protest at not being allowed to wear shorts in hot weather. pic.twitter.com/XHrffnSQEN
— Simon Hall (@SimonHallNews) June 22, 2017
See you soon, twitter. I'll be sent home soon. pic.twitter.com/XfFyxDeBAK
— joey (@jBarge_) June 19, 2017
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Where school and office dress codes almost always allow – and even encourage – women to dress lighter in the summer, the same doesn’t go for boys and men. Although our society is becoming more casual with every passing year – hurray for atheleisure! – shorts for boys and men are still discouraged at prep schools and more formal offices. Some etiquette guides are so hung up on covering up the male body that they forbid men from wearing sandals in the city!
Ok, sports sandals definitely don’t belong in offices or even prep schools, but shorts should be more welcome than they are. After all, finely tailored, professional options for summer wear are already on the market – men absolutely can pull together professional, stylish outfits that show a little leg. Your current HR guide may say that shorts on men are never ok at work but the fashion world disagrees with you and has been producing professional looks for decades. What is the real issue here?
Whatever your opinions are about men’s fashion, that men and even young boys are supposed to cover up all summer in order to look appropriate, while women are encouraged to wear less and less, is simply unfair – and not just to men, but to women and non-binary people too. People who don’t conform to gender norms find deeply gendered dress codes difficult to navigate – what are the dress code expectations for a gender fluid office worker? Questions like these reveal why basing dress codes on existing office norms and customs can lead to potential level issues and discrimination. After all, such a huge dress code disparity based solely on gender is clearly unfair and, in some places, may be open to legal challenge.
In the meantime, while I wait for dress codes to make their way into the 21st century, I’ll be celebrating every guy who wears a skirt or dress to school this summer, to demonstrate how ridiculous dress codes can be!