No underwear on show, no heels, and no teeny shorts… Cheltenham girls' dress code, 2012Pupils told: No make-up, no short shorts, no high heelsSkirts must be worn one inch above the kneeBra straps and cleavage must be hidden at school dancesSchool says girls need guidance to strike right balance
08:06 GMT, 19 June 2012
Perish the thought that any self-respecting gal from Cheltenham Ladies’ College should wish to show more than an inch of bare thigh.
And she surely wouldn’t want to be caught wearing a skirt or top that revealed … let’s not shilly shally about here … her undergarments.
But the latest guidelines from our most refined and distinguished foundation for launching teenagers into adulthood might have turned the fashion clock back a little too far.
New guidelines: Cheltenham Ladies College has reiterated its school rules about what will be tolerated during mufti days at the school.
The college has just reinforced its ‘mufti’ rules to remind parents and pupils of standards required by the 10,000-a-term seat of learning when it comes to casual dress.
To wit: no make-up, hair tied back; no short shorts, no high heels. Skirts must be one inch above the knee.
Absolutely no cleavage on show. Bra straps and underwear visible at school dances Definitely not, say the guidelines – ‘even when the girl moves around'.
The latest reiteration of the college’s mufti charter was delivered to 11 to 18-year-olds at morning prayers before an email was sent to ‘Dear Parents’ by Elizabeth Stone, Vice Principal (Pastoral).
Under the heading ‘Standards of Dress’, it explained that there were several occasions when girls were allowed to wear mufti, such as balls, proms and socials.
No tolerance: The 10,000 a term school says pupils cannot wear make-up, have their hair tied back and not wear short shorts or high heels. Skirts must be one inch above the knee
Perhaps anticipating that 21st century fashion might seep into standards the college has fought to uphold, it warns: 'Long experience tells us that many girls will not strike the correct balance without guidance.'
It adds: 'The girls greatly enjoy the chance to wear mufti, and it need not be complicated. A girl who wears jeans, T-shirt and sports/Converse-type shoes cannot easily go wrong.
'It would be highly distressing if a girl had to be excluded from an event, but I must make it clear that girls may only attend a College event if properly attired.'
Last night the round-robin email appeared to have created a division among parents, with some insisting the college was merely trying to maintain the kind of dress code they expect in an age when standards are perceived to be dropping.
But one told me: 'I think they’re completely out of touch with what young people are wearing these days. If you dressed a 16-year-old or 18-year-old girl in the way the college is suggesting, and sent her out to a social event, she’d be ridiculed.
'I think they like to produce a certain type of girl – and anything slightly stylish is frowned upon.'
Another -–a former pupil at the top-flight independent boarding and day school – said: ‘I don’t think we ever received a letter like that in my day.
'It’s quite unbelievable for teenage girls in 2012.'
Mixed reaction: The announcement has created a division among parents, with some insisting the college was merely trying to maintain the kind of dress code they expect in an age when standards are perceived to be dropping
The latest email comes in the wake of another letter to parents last term, underlining standards of uniform.
It was sent ‘so that confusion and arguments are avoided’, and included a table that sets out the guidelines.
‘We cannot hope to anticipate every variation,’ it says. But in a list that begins with the heading ‘Legs’, it lays down required standards of dress.
The school in Gloucestershire charges between 9,807 and 11,048 a term for boarders and proudly boasts actresses, politicians and lawyers among old girls from more than 150 years of being ‘at the forefront of girls’ education’ with ‘a worldwide reputation for academic excellence’.
Kristin Scott Thomas, Dame Mary Archer and suffragette Annette Bear-Crawford were pupils. (So was former ‘It-Girl’ Tamara Beckwith, although the email doesn’t mention she became pregnant at 16 while still at school there).
The college (motto: Coelesti Luce Crescat – May she grow in heavenly light) says it sent the letter in response to parents’ inquiries about what their daughters should wear for ‘Project Week’, when they are allowed to wear mufti to take part in a range of activities including windsurfing.
Some parents also asked for guidance on dress code for social events, the college told the Daily Mail.
A statement added: ‘We have found that working in collaboration with our parents has helped to balance current fashion trends with what is appropriate, bearing in mind our girls’ ages range from 11 to 18.'