You are what you wear, but make sure you wear a subtler version of yourself when you go to college. Each institution has its own character, which comes with its individual set of rules – the breach of which could result in embarrassment, in addition to a bad impression. The dress code varies in each college in several ways, sometimes even within a college. For instance, in RA Podar College, the BMS section has an entirely different dress code from the rest of the college – compulsary formals every alternate day and blazers for presentations, for both boys and girls. A college's dress code has little to do with the quality of its academics or its student body, but is more of a reflection of its founding philosophy and idea of appropriateness. Here are some sample dress codes from colleges across the city.
St Xavier's College
A Jesuit institution, St Xavier's has a much-publicised conservative code of conduct. One of the first colleges to crack down on sleeveless tops, shorts and skirts that fell above the knee, the college’s strict dress code dates back to 1997 when the principal banned the annual prom because girls ‘dressed inappropriately’. Currently, students must turn up in modest clothes — shoulders and ankles covered. Dresses and skirts that fall below the knee are allowed, but not pants that don’t go up till the feet. “The dress code is non-negotiable,” says Trinette D’Souza, an FYJC science student. “You’ll find people on campus all dressed in jeans, loose T-shirts or kurtas and slippers. But you can always experiment with different types of pants, where bright and bold prints and accessorise with funky belts, bangles and hairbands.”
RA Podar College
As TYBcom student Ruchita Desai puts it, the culture at Podar College is “not very glam”, so the dress code is built to suit the same. “It’s a simple college. Over the last year, it's suddenly become much more strict about its dress code, though, doing away with shorts and short skirts.”
According to Kinnari Rathod, SYBCom student, the dress code does come in the way of her individuality. “While I do stick to it, sometimes I feel like there’s no difference between school and college with such a strict dress code. You can wear sleeveless, but they have to be of a certain kind – no spaghetti straps, tank tops or T-backs. I think we’re old enough to know what’s appropriate, and should be able to make those decisions ourselves, as adults.”
This all-girls college, well-known for its artsy design programmes, also has its share of rules. “Students have to dress properly – it can’t be party wear or beach wear, but has to be a modest middle-ground,” says Margarida Colaco, BMM coordinator. “While we don’t wish to control what the girls wear outside college, within the class there must be a level of decorum. No short skirts, revealing tops or clothes that are explicitly tight which may attract unnecessary attention.”
Shruti Ashokan, a student of TYBA (seen above in harem pants), thinks the dress code is restrictive, since eliminating shorts and skirts take away from comfort, especially in the hot and monsoon months. “College is the age where you can experiment with your outfits, without worrying about whether you’re too young or too old,” she says. “However, I guess it does make practical sense since most of us travel by bus or train to get to class. We find ways to remain creative within the dress code, though. For instance, I’d wear a kurta with jeans, but with a feathered hairband. Or trousers with a formal top, but with chunky Indian jewellery. Use scarves or shrugs when you want to wear a top that won’t be well-received on its own.”
Beware: if you’re caught wearing something the nuns disapprove of, they will make you change into something from a closet kept for these incidents and according to the students, you would rather wear your own modest clothes than something that comes out of that closet!
DY Patil Dental College
While the college doesn’t have a formal dress code, there are unwritten rules that demand propriety, especially since students interact with patients outside of the college. “You can wear anything as long as its decent, but you would know not to put on a revealing top if you have to treat a patient,” says Upasana Desai, a student of dentistry. The culture is more jeans-and-T-shirts, for both the boys and the girls, and slightly more semi-formal since it is a medical college. However, you spend most of your time with the lab coat on, so students say the dress code doesn’t hold as much importance.
St Andrew's college
Stricter than a lot of other colleges, St Andrew’s Bandra has banned not just sleeveless tops and skirts, but even capris. “You’re not even allowed to fold your jeans during the monsoon,” says Melissa D’Souza, an FYJC student (seen above with a backpack). Both boys and girls can’t show their ankles. By that virtue, skirts and dresses aren’t allowed either.
Even within the jeans and T-shirt routine, students must be careful. T-shirts with bold messages across them, especially messages to do with boyfriends/girlfriends, are disallowed.