High School Dress Codes

I see in The Missourian that Scott City Schools are considering dress codes. Central High School didn’t have dress codes in the 1960s because the administration had confidence that students knew how to dress appropriately.

Pipe smoking allowed

Cigarette smoking on campus was prohibited, but pipes were OK. That led some students to some creative solutions.

Girls liked shorts and hiking boots

Women students were conservative in their dress, leaning to comfort over style.

Suspenders replaced belts

I’m not sure, but this looks a little like Vicki Miller. If it was, it was probably taken in 1964. Note the necktie to add to the formal look.

Some students wore “distracting” constumes

Mary Sudholt, right, was told to report to the office because her clothing was out of the norm and “distracting to other students.”

Senior Tacky Day

I think most of these photos were taken during the 1965 Senior Tacky Day because I recognize a lot of my classmates. A couple from 1964 may have gotten mixed in.

I’m sure some of my female classmates may want to discuss dress lengths and the exact temperature when wearing pants instead of a dress was permissible. My primary fashion accessory was a plastic pocket protector, so I was pretty much oblivious to what other students were wearing.

24 Replies to “High School Dress Codes”

  1. Ken; you are correct, the pictures are from Tacky Day 1964 and 1965. Vicky Miller is Class of 64′ and Cousin Bob Stone is Class of 65′. Vicki amd I used to dance in the Tiger Den during lunch. Bob Stone is sister, Barb and my cousin as pointed out by Brother-in-law Russ (see you guys next week).
    I do have to correct you in that there was a dress code, at least in 1962. The story goes like this. It was winter and the boilers acted up, good old CHS was out of heat. It seems like the repairs went on for several days. The administration wouldn’t allow the gals to wear pants or pants suits. So (is the statute of limitations expired) several of us ducked into the locker room, rolled up our pants legs and donned skirts to protest the rule. We walked around the lower hallways and the Tiger Den for as long as we thought we could get by with it, ducked back into the locker room and changed. I will not implicate anyone else because frankly I can’t remember who else was involved! But you are correct about the guys, I only remember good taste as the dress rules for us.

  2. As a teacher at Central in 1966, only 3 years out of college, I wore pencil skirts, seamless nylons attached to the old style girdle, and 2-inch heels with pointy toes. There was no “casual Friday,” ever – and we would have been called into Wade Callicutt’s office (undoubtedly) if we had worn pants suits. In fact, I don’t believe that attire had been invented yet.
    I’m sure the pointy toes have contributed to my current foot situation. (Headed to the podiatrist this week!)
    When I left Central for Fairbanks, Ak in 1969, the students at Central were still squeaky clean and conservative in dress. That made my transition all the more startling, when I arrived at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks and found myself right in the middle of the cultural revolution. I soon adapted by buying some knit pants suits, though I could never bring myself to go as casual as my former hippie compatriots!
    Today, I’m amazed at how casual teacher garb is – at least in the small schools.

  3. SEMO might have been worse. President Scully ran the place like the former high school principal he was. It wasn’t uncommon for him to stop a guy walking across campus to tell him to tuck his shirt in.

  4. I recognize my husband Bill’s cousin Vickie Miller. I remember her being one of the best dressed at Central, which explains the tie, even on Tacky Day. I also remember chafed legs from the cold & some sort of rule if the temp reached a certain low, you could wear slacks under your skirt. It was mandatory the legs had to be big enough in circumference to remove them without removing your shoes. I didn’t know any clowns well enough to ask to borrow their pants, so I braved the cold. Mrs. Damitz in Library Study Hall kept an eye out for skirts she deemed too short & her trusty yard stick handy to back her up…I heard of girls sent home to change over fractions of an inch!

  5. Regarding teachers wearing pant suits. When I was a principal of an elementary school in the late 60s or early 70s, pant suits came into vogue as I remember. At the time we had no official dress code for staff, but it was generally understood that women would wear dresses and men would at least wear a tie.
    Rumor had it that some teachers had started to wear pant suits in other schools. I had a good relationship with the staff and they generally knew my expectations without me verbalizing them. One day the teachers all got together and decided they would all wear pant suits. I guess they thought there would be less consequences as a group. It was kind of funny because you could tell some of the more experienced (older) teachers obviously did not look comfortable wearing pants, but it went off without a hitch. I didn’t say anything, but did ask them not to wear jeans. I had other more important things to worry about. That was the story the teachers told me later. I really didn’t pay that much attention to what the teachers wore and to illustrate that, one time all the teachers decided to wear something red one day (they contacted Sarah to ask her what my favorite color was)and showed up in my office one morning together (it was rather crowded). I asked them if we were having a meeting that I was not aware of and they said, “don’t you notice anything”. I didn’t.

    1. I am sartorially clueless (Wife Lila would expand that category.) One day I walked into work and complimented the help desk person in the office next door on her hair.

      “I’ve been wearing it this way for a month. It’s grown out and looks awful. In fact, I have a hair appointment this afternoon to get it cut.”

      That’s when I decided to avoid commenting about appearance in the office.

      Whenever the Significant Other asks about apparel, hair or other personal grooming items, I immediately break out in a sweat, my palms turn clammy and a “Beep, Beep Beep” alarm goes off in my head. I could flip a coin to come up with the correct answer and it would turn out to be “sides,” not heads nor tails.

  6. Central didn’t have uniforms, but a dress code was understood. If a girl was asked to defend her skirt length, the skirt had to touch the floor when she knelt. Walking to school on a snowy day with leggings under a skirt and boots to be removed later was awful, but we did it and remained ladies all the while. Inside those halls it was stockings or bobby socks and bare legs.

  7. I remember an incident in 1960 or 1961 when a girl and her mother came to school wearing shorts to protest the ban on them. I don’t know if it was for a special occasion that they wore shorts or just because.

  8. I believe the principal I taught under was one of the last holdouts for permitting teachers to wear pants
    suits. Once he made a new young teacher remove the long pants she was wearing under a dress on a particularly cold day only to regret his decision when he saw the length of her dress.

  9. I remember the temperature at which we could wear pants as zero degrees. That is awfully cold if you are standing on a windy corner waiting on a bus. I don’t recall wearing pants under my skirt to school, but I know people who did. My days at Central are a blur in many respects, but I recall seeing girls on their knees getting their hem lengths checked.

  10. I stand corrected Ken, I recall the rule now…yet perhaps Ms. Damitz had her own method of monitoring the dress code! I can think of no other reason for her to have that wooden yard stick in hand so much…maybe it was to tap & awaken those that used study hall to catch some zzzzzzzzzz!

  11. I never considered wearing slacks, what we used to call pants, to CHS in 1958-1961 or to SEMO in 1961-65. Women at SEMO could wear slacks in the dorms, but not to class or to the library. When I went to Northwestern in 1965, I was amazed to see women wearing slacks to class and the library, but within a few weeks, I had adjusted. During spring break in 1966, I spent a week in Cape and decided not only to visit Kent Library to check out a reference but also to wear slacks. No one said a word to me, but I did see lots of shocked faces.

  12. I remember my first year at SEMO in fall ’69 after graduating from Central. Mini-skirts were the fashion of the day and Dr. Scully would not let girls wear pants of any sort to class. I remember walking from the Tower’s parking lot to Magill and it would take half the class time for my legs to thaw! The following year Dr. Scully had mellowed and allowed girls to wear “pant suits,” but certainly no jeans!!!

    1. I may have told this Dr. Scully story before, but…

      While I was going to school there, I had a Missourian assignment to shoot a quick mug shot or something at Academic Hall. I circled the place, could spot only one open parking spot and pulled into it because I was running late.

      When I came out about seven minutes later, Dr. Scully was standing next to my car.

      “Can you read, son?”


      “Can you tell me what that sign says?”

      “Yessir. College President (or something close to that)”

      “Do you know who I am?”

      “Yessir. You’re Dr. Scully. Do you know who I am?” I asked.


      “Good.” I got in my car and made a quick exit. He might have been the college president, but he didn’t think quickly enough to get my tag number before it vanished out of sight.

  13. ONLY a group of dead, conservative, white men could have come up with the ridiculous dress code of girls always wearing dresses and skirts to school, which boys could look up while girls were on the play ground swinging or walking up school stairs!
    At Franklin Elementary and one year at Lorimier Elementary, girls could only wear slacks/long pants under dresses if the temp was minus something. We girls had to enter and exit the building on those cold days through specific doors, since we had to “drop trow,” or take off our long pants the moment we entered the hallway, and we could put on those long pants in that specified hallway to exit school for the day.
    Yes, my four years at CHS, was all about dresses and skirts/sweaters or blouses–absolutely no slacks. Denim was prohibited. And, yes many of us had to get on our knees to see if our hem lines touched the floor.
    Four years at SEMO was about the same as at CHS.
    Now, any kind of attire goes anywhere!

  14. In the 1950s, we had never seen a mini-skirt, so no one paid attention to the length of our skirts. For that matter, I don’t think skirts became short until the mid-to-late 60s. I still remember hemming up skirts to stay in fashion on a limited budget as I went through grad school.

  15. Ken; Good job, certainly touching our memories about dress codes. It did remind me of one more incident that happened in Mrs McKinnis’ world history class. One of the more popular girls in our class of 1962 wore a short skirt to school, (it was probably only at knee length). Mrs McKinnis made her tape a piece of notebook paper to the bottom of her skirt so it covered over her knees!

  16. Hi. The only reason I am on this website is to try to find Mary Ellen Sudholt, class of ’65. I knew her briefly when she and her family lived in Paris, MO IN THE 50s. As I remember she had 2 older sisters. I think she may have taken piano lessons from my grandmother, who introduced us. We were great playmates until she moved to Cape Girardeau, I lost contact with her. I don’t know who she married, if she married. We are both the same age, 68, so I doubt that we would recognize each other. I’d like to reconnect with her on Facebook, but don’t know her married name. Would appreciate any help you can give me.

    Thank you.
    “Jodi” Greiner
    PS…she would have known me as Jodanna Rogers. My grandmother was Jodie Sproul.

    1. Jodi, I wish I could help you. I checked the 10 and 20-year Central High School reunion bios and didn’t find any information about her. She’s one of the names that comes up when people start saying, “I wonder whatever happened to….?”

      Try sending an email to tiger1960@etcmail.com

      That’s the home of a weekly Class of 1960s email newsletter. Maybe someone one the list can help you. Let us know if you find out anything.

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