I see London, I see France, I see ... well, you get the idea. In Arkansas, however, delicate unmentionables of both genders are more than just an idea. Thanks to a newly declared dress code in the Little Rock School District, undergarments in all their shapes and sizes are now a mandate.
Specifically the Aug. 29 letter sent out to all employees requires that “Foundational garments shall be worn and not visible with respect to color, style and/or fabric ... No see-through or sheer clothing shall be allowed, and no skin shall be visible between pants/trousers, skirts and shirts/blouses at any time.”
Think anybody in this era even knows what the archaic term “foundational garment” even means?
The new rules don’t kick in until fall 2014 so staff will have a full year to go commando before settling into boring workplace-appropriate attire. Guess they were never taught the lesson that it is better to leave a little something to the imagination. Then again, Arkansas is the birth place of former President Bill Clinton, of boxers or briefs infamy, so oversharing must be a community trait.
File this dress code under: Did they really have to tell teachers not to give students an inadvertent anatomy lesson? Apparently, the answer is yes. The proliferation of muffin tops, plumbers cracks and overall slovenliness reveals that nationwide the concepts of “appropriate” and “good taste” need clarification. Why should Little Rock be immune?
Not quite sure if something specific pushed the district to get their you-know-what in a bunch over worker fashion but the code doesn’t just stop with what should lie beneath. The new rules also ban clothes showcasing slogans for beer, alcohol, drugs, gangs or sex along with raggedy cut-off jeans, halter tops, backless dresses and spaghetti straps without at least two layers. Bye-bye flip-flops and jogging suits; try to cover up tattoos when possible. Also, no spandex although not quite sure if this extends to Spanx — after all weren’t “foundational garments” encouraged? If the code stops jeggings on anybody, anywhere, however, the ban is worth the flak the teachers’ union is doling out. Guess the brass wants to make sure teachers can still wear their spring break souvenir T-shirts and Daisy Dukes year-round.
The district, on the other hand, is probably just busy covering its buns over potential lawsuits or whiffs of impropriety. Mary Kay Letourneau, as far as its known, never raised suspicion with her outfit choices but one never wants to give the impression they are encouraging impressionable young minds to be “hot for teacher.”
On the plus side, tennis and open-toed shoes are still acceptable as is “dress casual shorts,” and male teachers can leave the shirts and ties at home. The code also apparently doesn’t include that traditional test of skirt length — a hem past the extension of one’s longest finger — although it might give students a chuckle to see their teachers lined up in front of the principal for inspection prior to class.
Teachers and others in most professional industries (short of maybe software startups and those who work from home) shouldn’t need a refresher course on what not to wear. Bottom line, though, they obviously do. They should also learn that unlike whatever inappropriate style they’re embracing in the classroom, the overall impression they leave is a lot more than a flash in the pan.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.