For Girls, is Graduating in White Outdated?


The Class of 2012

As graduation draws closer, attire has become a major topic of discussion among the senior girls, who question the School’s tradition of requiring white dresses.

In fact, it’s surprisingly hard to find the ideal all-white dress, as many veer toward the bridal end of the spectrum. Most would prefer to hold off on this purchase until that other special day. In addition, most boys presumably already have a dark suit, which they are required to wear. Even if they don’t, they are more likely to make repeated use of their new purchase.

To be fair, a graduation dress code is not unique to Brimmer. Many other schools require traditional graduation regalia. Under the gown, though, students are allowed to wear less formal attire (similar to something students might wear on a dress day), making them feel more comfortable.

It’s important for students to feel comfortable. Graduation is a big and exciting day. Seniors want to look their best and have a memorable experience, and what they wear plays a big role in making this a reality.

Director of Alumni Affairs and Special Events Amanda Frank ’88 says that graduating in white symbolizes “welcoming girls into womanhood,” and that the tradition has existed for as long as she can recall, going at least as far back as the merger of the Brimmer School and the May School in 1939—and well before the community became fully coed in 1997.

As a female senior set to graduate June 3, I like the idea behind the tradition of wearing white. The community wants to celebrate its graduates’ transition into adulthood, while acknowledging the School’s rich history. However, I also feel that in 2016, Brimmer and May might consider striking a balance between being reflective of today while respecting the past.

Either way, I’m grateful that I have been a part of the Brimmer community. Regardless of what I’m wearing on graduation day, I’ll always be thankful for my experience here.

One thought on “For Girls, is Graduating in White Outdated?

  1. Hi Julie,
    I am a graduate of BM 1966 and am a member of the staff going on 41 years. In my tenure I knew many people who graduated from Brimmer School and May School. As far back as 1880 girls wore white dresses. It started with long white dresses, floor length, long sleeves, and high collars, NO makeup! In 1966 we had to buy long dresses and no scoop necks, no uncovered backs, no makeup still and no stockings or heels. Each generation of young women has managed to take part in making changes. Now almost anything goes.
    You can wear any long or short white dress, heels, Jewelry, make up. If Miss Thompson, my headmistress, could see 2016 graduates in their attire, she would literally “flip out.” I really like how you look.
    Brimmer has many traditions that we still hold close to our hearts like the Ring Ceremony and Convocation. Many have been lost in time. White dresses have been proudly worn for 116 years symbolising so many things, our wonderful education, teachers and friends for life, that we are proud graduates of this amazing school, which has grown and prospered because of our past and strong roots. We share something special with 116 years of women lucky enough to attend BM! Maybe there is some change you can make while still wearing white.
    Boys wear your ties proudly and girls wear them too if you want to!

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