This odd little op-ed piece in the February 19, 1915 Dalhousie Gazette1caught my eye as I was looking through the Dalhousie University archives for insight into what campus life would have been like for my grandmother Velma during her time there. Based on the time and place, I would expect there to have been a dress code in force. The 1916-1917 University Calendar has a Discipline section prohibiting students from “conducting themselves in an unbecoming manner on or beyond the premises of the College”2 However, there is no dress code delineated. Young gentlemen and young ladies must have been expected to know how to dress appropriately for the classroom without being told.
As I was smugly thinking that my professors at Old Dominion University were much more progressive and tolerant than the unnamed professorial chair, I remembered a certain professor of British literature who launched into a complaint at the start of class one day about young women wearing eye makeup that gave their faces a reptilian appearance. That remark was probably uncalled for and displaying questionable taste–particularly in view of the fact that one such young woman was sitting in the first row right in front of him.
While I didn’t find a dress code in the University Calendar, I did discover that students at that time could wear academic gowns to classes, in the British tradition:3
More snapshots from Velma’s Dalhousie days explained!
1“Has This Professor Too Much To Say?” The Dalhousie Gazette XLVII, no. 9 (February 19, 1915): 10.
2Dalhousie University, Calendar of Dalhousie University: 1916-1917 (Halifax, Nova Scotia: Wm. McNab & Son, 1916), 21.
3Dalhousie University, Calendar of Dalhousie, 22.