Honoring Tradition: The Sewanee Dress Code


As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on the University Of The South in 1969, here’s a revisit of one of Ivy Style’s most popular posts, which offers a glimpse at how the school’s students look today.

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Yesterday The College Fix — a site located on the conservative side of the political circus tent — put up an essay called “Dress for success: Why college students should junk the gym shorts and sneakers.” It was written by a female student at the University Of The South, otherwise known as Sewanee, located in southeastern Tennessee.

Chloe Stevenson writes:

Dress codes may seem like an extension of boarding school or a private high school experience, but the expectations at Sewanee stand for something more.

Better described as a way of life, rather than a mandate or formal demand, this unspoken dress code is viewed by many students as a sign of respect and honoring tradition, they told The College Fix.

It “kind of sets us apart from the rest of the pack,” one Sewanee senior said. “We know how to present ourselves. It actually eases my fears of graduating and getting a job since I know how to behave or how to dress.”

“When it came down to it, I chose Sewanee because of the idea of a dress code,” said a freshman just arriving on campus. “It makes everyone look like they have it all together and I like that a lot.”

The idea of choosing your school based on the student body’s clothing choices was just too amazingly cool for this here menswear site not to post about. But of course we know that clothes and dress codes — whether enforced or merely encouraged — are about a lot more than just covering ourselves, as I’m sure that freshman understands. You can head over here for the full essay, though I wouldn’t expect other schools to start dressing for success before they have to.

In the meantime, here are some shots taken from the school’s flickr photostream. They include images of the honor code pledge and freshman class photo, which occurred a couple of weeks ago. And for a broader sense of the school and its traditions, there are a few shots of last spring’s commencement ceremony. — CC





65 Comments on "Honoring Tradition: The Sewanee Dress Code"

  1. Nice to see young men and women dressed like ladies and gentlemen. Very lucky ladies and gentlemen, indeed. I just took a look at the college website. Looks like a GREAT place to study. Looking at tuition, a four year undergraduate degree will set Mummy and Daddy back over $200K.

    I’d love to re matriculate there for an additional BA. Does anyone have $200K they could gift me?


  2. Wriggles, Don’t get too caught up in the pricing. Nobody pays retail for college.

  3. William Richardson | September 10, 2015 at 4:50 pm |

    Is it just me or does the reclining fellow with the hair look not dissimilar to Bruce Jenner post operation?

  4. This link to a recent high school commencement address is right on the money for this important topic. The speaker, Harvey Mansfield, is professor of government at Harvard and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. ://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/dressing_974073.html#.VYP2xQIXdT4.twitter

  5. “Bruce Jenner post-operation” AKA Caitlyn. Show some politeness.

  6. I attended a private college with a dress code; it was similar to the private primary and secondary schools that I attended. I love the Saint Nick costume worn by the Chancellor. Was your declaration that the site was “conservative” a trigger warning??

  7. “Is it just me or does the reclining fellow with the hair look not dissimilar to Bruce Jenner post operation?”

    Ahemmmm… reportedly, the person formerly known as Bruce Jenner has not yet gone under the knife for a clipadicktomy.

    And IMO the guy in the photo doesn’t look remotely like Jenner.

  8. i love Sewanee. I loved dressing to show my respect for learning and for the professors who led me in my quest for it. I loved wearing my academic gown, once I had earned it, and the fact that it had been passed down from a Gownsman who had gone before me. I respected those whose initials were embroidered inside my gown who had worn it before I did, as well as those in my own class who had earned their gowns before I earned mine. Laugh if you will, but a Sewanee education shaped my life in ways I can never express to you – and I regret that you did not attempt to avail yourselves of such a beginning. Yes, a beginning.

  9. Damn, the reclining fellow does like like Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.

  10. I bet recruiters just love to visit this place! I know I would. All this young up-and-comers, pre-civilized and ready for the real world. There is great comfort and freedom within the reasonable boundaries of tried and true standards. Sheesh…now I want to visit the campus and see for myself.

  11. Sewanee is grand. I live in the area and know a few who attended, and I’m sure most received quite a bit of financial aid.

    Also, that top photo is fantastic. The girls are clearly intending to walk away with an MRS.

  12. Dave Morrison | September 11, 2015 at 8:58 am |

    I attended Sewanee during the time the dress code was in full force. Coat and tie to meals, classes, and some other functions. We ended up wearing a coat and tie almost all day because it was just easier to not change and because we became comfortable in such attire. The code, along with the honor code, other traditions, and the sheer beauty of the place were some of the major reasons I was there.
    I only wish the dress code was still more in force, including one for the females. I won’t be specific, but one of the photos shows at least one female in an outfit that looks less than professional. You know which one it is.

  13. Heyday Sewanee:



    Two major feeder schools are McCallie and Baylor–both situated in Chattanooga, a very preppy town.

  14. It is such a nice way to keep focused on the academics and not get distracted by what others are wearing. Notice that there is no mention of what is worn outside of class.
    The dress for football games is even better! YSR!!

  15. I know some Sewanee grads: once they stopped trying to tell me that it’s the ‘Harvard of the South’, and admitted they went there because the campus looked great in ‘Making The Grade’, I learned to love them as fellow well-read, over-educated professional worker bees in the hive. I’m doing my best to block out the fact that, for a few decades now, it’s been the cargo-short-wearing drop-outs who are, literally, changing commerce, the arts, and basically the world as we know it.

  16. The most entertaining photo in the group, btw, is Rat Rod Rosie The Riveter sharing a scowl with John Hinckley: God bless ’em for breaking up the otherwise tired collage of prep-lite images.

  17. I had to crop in on those two as I thought they were priceless. Wouldn’t it be funny if they met and became a couple? If I were there, though, he’d have competition from me. : )

  18. Seriously: debate the Caitlyn Jenner kid all you want, for my money the kid in the red tie next to Rosie is the most compelling – he’s half Reagan-shooter / half Vincent Donofrio from ‘Full Metal Jacket’. Either way, I love it.

  19. William Richardson | September 11, 2015 at 1:28 pm |


    Duel you for her. Ha!


  20. As long as it’s swords not pistols.

  21. William Richardson | September 11, 2015 at 1:57 pm |

    Funny how we often want the things that we know are not good for us.

  22. It seems that ugly sunglasses are now an essential GTH item. I’ll admit I wore cheap wayfarer-esque ones with neon orange temples, but those seem fairly classy compared with these (especially the vicar, wonder which Rite he uses…no I don’t definitely Rite II, blech). Tacky croakies complete the look.


  23. Sewanee, how I love ya, how I love ya
    My dear old Sewanee
    I’d give the world to be
    Among the folks in I-V-Y-S-T-Y-L-E………….

  24. The priest is sporting a Roman cassock. Roman?!?! W…TH?

    Two major feeder schools for Sewanee–both in Chattanooga, a preppy town.



  25. I attended Sewanee when the dress code was still in place (i.e., mandatory). Even then, students could break it according to their whims, although a few old-school profs were known to send students back to the dorms to change clothes if they showed up in class improperly dressed–and this was regarded by students with respectful amusement, not resentment. But I, one of only two military veterans on campus, occasionally attended classes wearing my army camouflage pants and a flannel shirt, sans tie but wearing my hard-won academic gown, and was never turned out of classes for it. The dress code was flexible.

    (I should add that I routinely donned a coat and tie again in the evenings when I wrote papers–I found that I did better work when I dressed like an adult.)

  26. At least the crucifer is sporting an Anglican one…

  27. You guys can fight it out over Rosie, I’m more impressed with the redhead in the top picture.

    Moving on….

    The dress code apparently doesn’t include a school tie.

    Is that a sweater-vest? *looks closer* No, contrast sleeves.

    Seconding DCG: sport sunglasses with coat-and-tie is a bad look. Wayfarers … borderline (getting the actual Ray-Bans helps).

  28. Clearly Low Church.

  29. It’s an Episcopal school. So, not sure how you’re defining “low.”

  30. I also attended Sewanee even before the girls came to the campus. Wore blue jeans..with coat and tie.

  31. WFB: Even a pernicious Papist like the real Buckley would have some familiarity with the spectrum of Anglican worship style…

  32. DCG: Mind your manners you Philistine. I have no compunctions regarding my preference for the Marian cult.

  33. Wasn’t “Making the Grade” filmed in Memphis at Rhodes College, not Sewanee?

  34. William Richardson | September 12, 2015 at 12:14 pm |

    @WFBJr and DCG

    In the words of Reverend Lovejoy upon his presiding over an Indian wedding for Apu and Menjula Nahasapeemapetalon, “Jesus is Jesus”.



  35. William Richardson | September 12, 2015 at 12:23 pm |


    Rosie the Riveter for fun, redhead for real life. Fact is, just about all college aged girls are cute. The point is moot, I love my wife.

    Loving life,


  36. By a massive margin, this post was the most popular in Ivy Style’s eight-year, 1200-post history.

  37. Anglican or Roman, High or Low, Latin or vernacular, as long as we all agree that sunglasses should be attractive and not…whatever those are…

  38. Amen and so say we all.

  39. Greenaquarian | September 12, 2015 at 8:15 pm |

    Just stumbled across this blog- I too attended Sewanee in the times of no ladies and full dress code- I was sent to the Disciplinary Committee for wearing a cravat not a necktie (as a bit of a statement) , then of course the dictionary was pulled out- lol
    Still a great tradition- and as I remember clearly-for me it was a necessary discipline toward neatness since I was a boy heading toward manhood experimenting at being a slob–
    What a fantastic school-on all levels

  40. Hey Toddles — ye of the “no ladies full dress code.” What a pity this moment can’t include a Fonville entry.

  41. Actually these pictures badly shook my ideas about what it means to dress well. Please understand where this is coming from: I wear jacket and tie almost every day, even (especially) when not required–and as often as not, the jacket is Andover Shop and the tie is repp. I am also not saying the following because I’m blinded by any kind of social envy or resentment: I went to a top-4 university; I have spent my career deep within the Establishment; I am myself white and in my early 30s.

    All that being said…look at these guys. Be honest with yourself: they are terrible. Their smug faces, those vacuous eyes, the awful swaggering postures…the effect of these pictures is visceral, and it is the precise opposite of style.

    A stylish man conveys intelligence, grace, character, above all a sense of humility and care for those around him–real style requires a self-reflective, self-editing tendency. Look at the striped-sock bro in photo 2. That guy looks like he fully expects to spend the rest of his life airing out his balls in other people’s personal space. So do they all.

  42. Sewanee is probably a mish-mash of Anglo-Catholicism and low-church Protestantism – all of it mostly liberal, to boot, though a good number of conservative theologians have walked through, as well.

  43. Hey Christian,

    Long time fan and blogosphere reference of your site.

    Glad you noticed that Trad lives on at Sewanee! I posted an article a few years ago using the very same photostream you mentioned on my own blog. Definitely one of the elite campuses left these days that has so much of the “good stuff” left – even better that they still dress in academic robes for class!

    Best regards,

  44. Yes, some of the young men in the pictures are less than the epitome of elegance in attire and attitude. Maybe that’s because they’ve grown up in a crass and vulgar world, one in which doing your own thing has long been considered more important than consideration for others. At least Sewanee is trying to inculcate a modicum of decorum in its maticulants.

    As for Bruce Jenner, no amount of hormones, surgery, makeup, clothing, wishful thinking, name changing, or self-identification can alter the fact that he, a father of six and one-time gold medalist in the decathlon, is a man. Calling him “Caitlyn” means going along with his lie—the lie that he is a woman.

    I hate being lied to, and will not knowingly participate in others’ lies

    That we even need to talk about this shows how far we have fallen. I guess it’s time for another book by Oolon Colluphid, this one called “Well, That About Wraps It Up For Western Civilization.”

  45. Reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite movies:
    “Always with the negative waves, Moriarty. Always with the negative waves. Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?” Sgt. Oddball

  46. For those among us who declare the 80s to be the Heyday of Ivy style.


    The faculty members could be mistaken for LL Bean models:


    Worthy of an 80s Preppy tumblr.

  47. Crewcuts and narrow everything receive lots of attention from folks who declare the 50s and early 60s to be the Heyday. There’s much to be said for the 70s and 80s incarnation of the style in question–including longer hair and wider everything. And tan suede bucks. Mop-top, tweedy Tucker Carlson and P.J. O’ Rourke salute it regularly.




  48. William Richardson | September 10, 2015 at 4:50 pm |
    Is it just me or does the reclining fellow with the hair look not dissimilar to Bruce Jenner post operation?

    I’m sure you just made his day!

  49. I find all this talk about a proper dress code at Sewanee kind of Orwellian (1984) doublespeak. Conformity is “individuality” and the penalty for violating the dress code is banishment.

    Sewanee co-eds are adults and should be allowed to make their own sartorial decisions. If men want to wear goofy, oversize hats and women want to dress topless in public, so be it. College is all about self-discovery, is it not?

  50. Not wearing tee shirts, sweat pants or athletic shorts to class is so Orwellian. Seems the only times students put on the dog are the first two weeks of class and special occasions. I never thought having to wear a collared shirt as oppressive.
    I would hope at $50,000 a year for the parents sake students would be there to study and learn. There are cheaper ways to find yourself. Hell join the Marines, the desert of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan have a massive self realization factor and you get paid. Of course they have a dress code. 😉

  51. I was getting the mail a few minutes ago, and my neighbor pulls in front of the house, getting home from work. He works as some sort of appraiser for a neighboring county, and I assume no dress code is in force. Anyhow, this guy’s usual attire consists of a faded denim shirt and equally faded black pants. The fellow is a real egotist, and will regale you with tales how he has been instrumental in the operation of all mankind.

    So, here I am dressed in my usual OCBD and khakis, chat for a few minutes with the guy. I came to the conclusion that he probably believes that he is well dressed, and probably doesn’t even notice anyone else’s clothing.

    Maybe, in our self centered me world, most “casual” raggedy dressed people THINK and BELIEVE they ARE well dressed.

    A shocking revelation.

  52. The reclining fellow is my grandson. He is one cool dude.

  53. Mitchell, I hope you’re jesting. Sewanee’s students deserve praise as they are well dressed unlike the majority of college students. I wish all college students dressed like that, then I wouldn’t feel like such a minority on my own campus…

  54. My alma mater, The Citadel, is another southern school with a dress code and honor code. Yes, uniforms are worn on campus most of the time, but there is also a blazer available for second-semester junior and senior cadets. (e.g. https://goo.gl/images/qH6pi4). Charleston in general is a terrific place to learn how to dress; the city at large dresses above what you’d expect in most cases.

  55. @Dan

    I am sorry if I offended you. I wish you and your grandson well.


  56. That sort of enforced conformity is really the polar opposite of cool. They might as well all be wearing orange jumpsuits.

  57. @Cameron

    Referring to the wearing of blazers as “enforced conformity” seems a bit obtuse. I would argue that the typically slovenly dressed college student of today is the true conformist. The wearing of dignified attire simply shows that you have respect for yourself and those around you. It also shows the world that you are mature and can be taken seriously. The wearing of an orange jumpsuit is compulsory but one may choose to attend a college with no dress code. Simple really.


  58. Elizabeth Niven | February 26, 2017 at 8:51 am |

    Went to Sewanee in the 80s, we were fresh faced, good looking and damn smart. We also knew how to dress the part if needed. Women in my class have changed the world in significant and positive ways and not always while wearing a suit. It was another tool in the toolbox…but the education was why we were all there.

  59. I can’t imagine why somebody would choose a college based on its dress code. I’m admittedly a bit of an academic snob but Sewanee doesn’t have a particularly good academic reputation and virtually no name recognition outside of the south. As a matter of fact, the only reason I’ve heard of the college is that growing up, it was consistently the butt of a teacher’s joke as we went through the college application process.

  60. EVAN EVERHART | October 25, 2018 at 3:19 pm |

    I could wish that any of my fellow students (in the early 2010s) had worn anything approaching this level of respectability, at either of the colleges which I attended. To be fair, I attended college for the first time at a West Coast Art & Design College, and the second time at a minor private college from my area. I won’t name either as I detested both, both for their “campus culture” – see lack there-of, and for their doggedly monetary fixation, re: my enforced course program, despite the overwhelming results of my entrance aptitude examinations and standardized testing results.

    Seriously, I was the only person in a suit, let alone a jacket or tie, or possibly even a collared shirt amongst any of the Freshmen, either time. Sad.

    I laud and applaud these fine upstanding young people! And have nothing but utter contempt for and shock at anyone who has visited this site especially and has commented negatively upon these youngsters! Keep your Marxist insecurities to yourself! This style of dress is called respect for your fellow members of WESTERN CIVILIZATION, and long may it be upheld!

  61. elder prep | March 9, 2019 at 6:54 pm |

    As two posters to this topic have recognized, the four young women in the first photo are rather striking. However, my observation is the expressions on their faces as they watch the young men walk by in their classic khakis and blazers. A penny for their thoughts?

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