Join the Club, BSM

Private schools standardize uniforms to set a tone in the community. Providence Academy, Totino Grace High School, DeLaSalle High School, Cretin-Durham Hall, all well-noted Catholic schools in the metro mandate uniforms to accomplish two goals: distinguish their school from others and promote equality within school grounds.


During my time as a Providence Academy student, for four years I despised wearing a uniform. Girls wore navy skirts, polo’s, knee-highs, and loafers. For boys, khakis, belts, polos, and dress shoes were the norm. Students received some freedom: both ladies and gentlemen had the choice to wear navy or white polo’s, or selected sweaters. Girls had the freedom to wear navy or white knee-highs, and guy had the option to wear button-down oxfords with PA-designed ties. The uniforms were not unattractive, but rather strictly regulated.

Two buttons unbuttoned on your polo’s rather than one? Detention.

Girls’ skirts mid-thigh instead of mid-knee? Detention.

Catch a boy wearing navy socks instead of tan? Detention.


Many a time catching a student in the hall not following the dress code was not the case, but rather spontaneously doing dress code checks mid-class was a teacher’s favorite opportunity to call someone out. All students rise to get evaluated head to toe. Men even have to raise their pants to have their unnoticeable sock color assessed.


Ladies, shoes must be black, navy, or brown. Trending Sperrys are okay, PA says, but with their rules of no cheetah print, glitter, plaid, or metallic, that discards almost all the cute Sperry options.


With all the negatives said, uniforms were not all that bad. The strict regulations were a hassle but they were straightforward and explicitly stated. If you go against their regulations, expect to get in trouble. Make sure you are not wearing the same skirt from 3 years ago, it has not magically gotten shorter; accept that you have outgrown it and need to buy a new one. You have enough time in the summer to go shoe shopping and find shoes that fit the dress code (I promise some exist!) If you put time aside and find a pair that fits the dress code, you wont have to fearfully dodge the dean every day in the hall. The expectations are black and white. Once you have the uniform down, how hard could it be? You literally wear the same thing day after day.


Junior year I transferred to Benilde-St. Margaret’s. “Woohoo! No more uniforms!!!” I thought to myself. Little did I know how much I took for granted PA’s monotonous attire.


I dearly miss uniforms.


BSM takes pride in being the only Catholic school in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to grant students the freedom of expression. However, they have a strictly mandated dress code. What freedom do students have when the majority of their options are shut down for not fitting the “policy”?


BSM says any shirt is okay—as long as it does not show your shoulders, midriffs, cleavage, or undergarments. It cannot be open-back, off-the-shoulder, too short, too long, too low, too high, too tight, too loose, too sheer, too distracting, etc. The handbook should change it’s wording to “please come to school in a baggy turtleneck”, but even that will probably have some regulation to it.


Once I got dress coded for wearing a modest summer dress for mass day. Of course, I tainted the cuteness of my outfit and wore a jean jacket to hide my “distracting” shoulders. But that was not the problem. Instead, I was dress coded for a wearing a dress a smidge above my knee. As I looked around in the Great Hall, I see girls wearing dresses barely extending to their mid-thigh and I questioned how my wardrobe selection was so offensive.


And then there are the popular leggings…

One cannot hide their leggings from teachers. Do not try dodging teachers from your third hour class to your fourth hour class across the hall. Ms. Anderson or Ms. Rasumssen will show up out of nowhere and scold you for wearing leggings under your tunic. Leggings are restricted because of their “revealing nature”. But skin-tight jeggings, just because of their back pockets and seam, are permitted. Unfortunately, these are often even tighter than leggings.


It is difficult for students to adhere to the dress code because of the gray areas. The vague nature of the leggings rule is case-in-point.


“Feel free to express yourselves!” says BSM.

Will do… I’ll go break it to my mom that we need to spend another $500 on more sweaters and high-waisted baggy jeans because the majority of my closet does not conform to the dress code.


My advice: chose a color, start sporting your plaid.