Beauty…and the Male: Man in the Mirror


Recently, I found it interesting that the undergraduate institution that I attended initiated a dress code. I happen to love my school and when I left college, Morehouse was the only school that I sent my application to. This was primarily because what I SAW or perceived on the campus of the school was professional, mature and well put together.

When most of us think of college, we think of freedom to say, do, and even WEAR what we want. But, my school has adopted about 15 rules of things they prohibit. I won’t bore you with all of them but I will reprint some of them here:

Examples of inappropriate attire and/or appearance include but are not limited to:

-Caps, do-rags or hoods in classrooms, the cafeteria, or other indoor venues. This policy item does not apply to headgear considered as a part of religious or cultural dress.

-Jeans at major programs such as, Opening Convocation, Commencement, Founder’s Day or other programs dictating professional, business casual attire, semi-formal or formal attire.

-Sagging – the wearing of one’s pants or shorts low enough to reveal undergarments or secondary layers of clothing.

-Pajamas, shall not be worn while in public or in common areas of the College.

-Wearing clothing associated with women’s garb (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the campus or at College-sponsored events.

-Additional dress regulations may be imposed upon students participating in certain extracurricular activities that are sponsored or organized by the College.

When I read these rules, I had to think about this for a minute. Most of this stuff SHOULD BE common sense to men. However, apparently they are not. I certainly would have never thought about leaving the house in my pajamas but that appears to be somewhat popular these days. For those that read my previous link on THE FLIP FLOP REVOLUTION (see link), I think this is what I was trying to get at. We’ve relaxed many societal rules. But is relaxing always good? Are men wearing DRESSES to convocation now? Shouldn’t budding college men know better?

Like it or not, perception matters. It’s been proven OVER and OVER again. The “beautiful” make more money, do more things, etc. By no means am I suggesting that we are not ALL beautiful but do we ALL take the time to enhance that beauty?

Ultimately, I think that when we want to do better, it is incumbent upon us to look at the man (or woman) in the mirror and determine if the way that we are dressed is the way that we want to be perceived by others. If the answer is NO, then I suggest we see the above list. Feel free to post this in your closet if necessary!

Until next time,


More about Kenneth:

Kenneth D. Pratt Esq. is a graduate of Morehouse College and the Florida State University College of Law. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, he began his career there, as a certified legal intern at the Office of the State Attorney and progressed to the Office of the Attorney General where he served for three years. Pratt has published several short stories, poems, and op eds in National as well as local publications. In his spare time he enjoys reading, travel, and sports.

(photo source)

  • Claire

    I agree with Eddie Izzard–I believe in sartorial freedom. If a man wants to wear a dress, he should. He should wear a formal enough dress to suit the occasion, certainly. But if women managed to incorporate pants into their heteronormative, socially acceptable performance of gender (insert irony here), surely men should be allowed to do the same with dresses or skirts.

  • Claire

    I have to say also, as a woman who enjoys wearing pants, that I found the term "women's garb" pretty offensive. Just a thought.

  • Caitlan

    I suspect that no men casually threw on a dress out of laziness; it was probably a carefully considered (and potentially brave) decision.

  • Caitlan

    Oh, also: I read this post on bloglines and the header includes "By B" which confused me until I clicked on it to read it on the actual site. :)

  • kukaberry

    I don't understand why you cannot wear a hat in a college classroom. I often incorporate hats into my outfits and I wear them as accessories, like my scarves and headbands. I don't consider class a formal event and some hats are dressy enough for formal events. I disagree with much of this dress code. College is where you spend a lot of time finding yourself. That includes your dressing style. I think these rules take away from some of the creativity and individuality of these boys and their attire.

  • Husha

    Boys aren't allowed to wear fedoras or any hat in class cuz then they'd look so hot it'd be distracting.

  • Shona

    I agree with no sagging. Why do some guys think that wearing pants with too short of an inseam and/or creating the illusion that they didn't make it too the bathroom attractive??

  • Shona

    too = to. whoops :)

  • Her Royal Poshness

    Perception really does matter and while we pretend to live in a free society where anyone can do as they want, if President Obama appeared in a dress or sagged his jeans we might all pass out.
    People need to realise that they will be judged based on their appearances and be more responsible (for lack of a better word).

    A guy can wear whatever he likes but as soon as I look at one, I think posh or not and sadly most of these things you have mentioned put them in the un-posh category (unless there is a blatantly obvious reason for the dressing or it is a one-off). I know that sagging and do-rags drive me absolutely nuts.
    That's just my opinion.

  • Mykeshia

    I think the rules are kinda lame. Wear what you want. I would be pissed if my college tried to tell me what I can or can't wear.

  • Danielle

    I don't think that a college should be able to have a dress code. What if you can't afford nice clothes? Formal and professional events definitely call for formal wear, but why should you have to dress up for class? I also found the "no women's garb" part offensive. What if a man wants to wear women's clothing as an expression if himself? Seems like an oppression of gay and transgender rights.

  • Janine

    Is this a public or a private college? If it is private, they can enforce a dress code if they wish… but fewer students might enroll next year!

    As for the hats- when I was in college, everyone wearing a hat with a brim had to take it off during any test or quiz. The professors know that answers can be written on the bill. It may be "old fashioned" but it is still improper etiquette for a man to wear a hat indoors. (My boyfriend is the biggest offender of this.. lol) Ladies, however, are allowed. :)

  • Anonymous

    As someone said, hats indoors are appropriate for womena and inappropriate for men. Morehouse is a private college. They can make their own dress code. Morehouse prides itself on its distinguished alumni, which include Dr. Martin Luther King. I think a dress code is neccessary. I teach at a University and I can't stand students who don't dress as students. How you dress really does affect how you act and how others perceive you. Part of a university's job is to get recruiters to recruit students. If business people perceive that the students on a campus aren't serious, they won't recruit from that school. As open as I like to think I am, I do not think that it is appropriate for a Morehouse Man to wear a dress on campus. There is a time and place for everything. I don't know how I would feel if men were wearing dresses at my public HBCU.

  • ‘Funlayo

    I absolutely agree with the dress code and wish that more schools would implement one. I work at a college and I am a future professor and I have NO desire to a young man's underwear or one sitting up in the classroom with a hat pulled down over his eyes.

    Someone said "what if you can't afford nice clothes" — this isn't about "nice clothes" it's about looking and carrying yourself in a respectful way. If you can afford saggy jeans, you can afford jeans that fit; if you can afford Jordans, you can afford a pair of shoes; if you can afford jeans, you can afford pants that are not jeans. I know folks like to be "label whores" a lot of the time, but Payless, Conway and the like all provide neat, affordable options for people who don't have a lot of money.

    As for the dresses thing… if a person is genuinely transgender, I think they should be allowed their expression but having lived in a college town, I can tell ya that a lot of college-age guys will dress up in drag for events as a joke, and the school obviously doesn't find it funny.

    In any case, there's nothing wrong with looking neat and respectable at school. I need the school I work at to enact one for women: no ass crack showing, no boobs hanging out, no tights worn as pants… I could go on! LOL!

  • KP


    As a Morehouse grad myself, I could not have said it better. College is the training ground for the professional world. At some point you have to start practicing for what the professional world is going to be like. And if you want people to take you seriously, you have to take YOUR DRESS seriously. Period!