As long as I’ve been going to school, I’ve followed a routine: wake up and put on my uniform. Now that my school is remote, my routine’s the same. It may feel like more of a hassle to get dressed than to just roll out of bed and log in to class wearing the same thing I slept in, but the effort is worth it. I’ve found I’m more attentive on days when I wear the full uniform than on days when I wear just the required shirt with pajama pants. That’s why I believe dress codes for online learning are useful: They create a sense of formality, keep students connected, and help us stay focused.
Dress codes preserve a sense of normalcy in a world where so much has changed. According to Northwestern Medicine, having a routine helps with stress management and can improve sleep and overall mental health. Limiting our clothing options to either a uniform or just a few outfits that adhere to the dress code gives us one less thing to worry about each morning.
Dress codes also serve as an important visual connection with our classmates, especially if some students are at home while others are in school. It can be hard to meet new people or get to know a person better when you are not face-to-face with them in the same room. Being required to dress similarly creates a shared connection between you and your classmates, the same as it was in person last year— even if that connection is just commiserating about how dorky the dress code is!
Opponents of dress codes for online learning might argue that they interfere with a student’s comfort while they adjust to a new learning environment.
However, having no dress code whatsoever takes the idea of comfort too far. In our online classes, we already get to enjoy being in a more relaxed setting and not having to wake up as early as we normally might. Dress codes can serve as a counterbalance, a subtle reminder that even though we aren’t in our usual school environment, we still have to keep up with our classes. Overall, having a dress code for virtual learning benefits students, even if it means taking a bit more time to get ready each morning.