Skirt Length Struggle


Natalie Kahn ’19

It’s no secret that Ramaz has struggled with the issues surrounding skirt length for a long time. One of this year’s biggest topics of discussion has been dress code, following a modified policy in Preludes. Just how effective has this new policy been? Honestly, not very.

At the beginning of the year, Ms. Krupka spoke to the girls about the new code and explained her reasoning both eloquently and cogently. The main points were: a) the way people dress affects their confidence and focus, so dressing appropriately in school cultivates a more serious environment, and b) the faculty isn’t here to be the dress code police. Girls don’t have to change if a skirt is too short, and boys aren’t suspended for wearing jeans to school. Neither gets in trouble for wearing a shirt that is inappropriate. Rather, in all these cases, a faculty member would merely indicate that either boy A or girl B’s outfit is inappropriate and shouldn’t be worn again.

In principle, this sounds great, or –scratch that– is great. But practice is a whole different story. The boys’ policy hasn’t changed much, but with girls’ dress code, skirt lengths are supposed to be slightly more enforced, and words are no longer allowed unless they’re “Ramaz” or something pertaining to the school, like “Fear the Ram.” Concerning the former, girls’ skirts are as short as ever. Sometimes, this length is successfully disguised by black leggings so that a female teacher passing by might not notice how short that skater skirt is, but other times, the skirt is just blatantly short. At this point, I wouldn’t even categorize skirt length as a change, as “knee-length skirts” have always been in the rule book, just never actually put into practice.

The issue with the latter, the ban on logos and words, is that (let’s face it) skirts are the real problem here. It’s perfectly all right to chastise a student for wearing a shirt that says “Sexy Body” — I don’t think there’d be any dispute — but a shirt that reads “NYU” or “Seneca Lake” is far more benign than a skirt that is almost nonexistent. The administration has discussed its hope that people will no longer think of Ramaz as the school where girls dress immodestly. It’s true, Ramaz does have that reputation— but really only concerning short skirts, not logos on shirts.

One might argue that it’s impossible to really enforce skirt length, but other yeshiva schools have done so more successfully than Ramaz. Take SAR student Hannah Vorchheimer ’19. At SAR, girls must wear skirts that go to or at least very close to the knee. “If you get skirted, you have to change. There are certain teachers who are just really willing to skirt you if your skirt is too short, and they will,” says Hannah. At Frisch, the situation is similar to Ramaz’s. According to an anonymous Frisch senior, “the rules are very strict in theory but loosely enforced.” However, a key difference is that girls are usually pretty respectful, wearing skirts “barely above the knee for the most part on average, though there are some outliers in both directions, of course.”

Yes, people should be able to wear what makes them feel comfortable and confident, but at the same time, life isn’t only about feeling comfortable. Otherwise, people might wear pajamas and slippers to work. We don’t need to wear Shabbat dresses, but a skirt that’s approximately knee length in a religious school doesn’t seem unreasonable. Clearly, Ramaz students have some trouble with skirt length, yet it seems strange that while SAR and Frisch can pretty successfully enforce skirt length, Ramaz cannot. It might be wise for the administration to start thinking about ways to make its policy stricter before skirts grow any shorter.