Dress Code for Speech and Debate

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Discus: College Confidential Café: 2004 Archive: Dress Code for Speech and Debate
By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 11:56 am: Edit

A friend's daughter is having problems with the new speech and debate coach at her Cleveland area public high school. The new coach (who hails from a prep school in the sw) is requiring that the girls wear suits with skirts - no pants suits. Although I personally think its easier to just wear a skirt, the girl - and some of her friends - are pretty adamant about it. In addition, the girl has been told by judges that its better to wear slacks if you are doing comedy (as she it). If anyone out there is in speech and debate, what are your dress requirements - and thoughts on the subject?

By Kfc4u (Kfc4u) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 05:39 pm: Edit

ive done speech and debate before and unforunately, sex sells, thats why some girls purposely wear skirts to their performances. but i really do think that slacks are better for comedy because it is less attention-grabbing. you'd want the judges to focus on the comedic delivery, not the dramatic performance (where some judges may evaluate body language and hand gestures and thus, the skirt is more attractive).

talk to the coach and tell the coach that the judge had told her it is better to wear a skirt for comedy.

By Idiias (Idiias) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 10:37 pm: Edit

yeah debate coaches are tough on issues like that. Mine admitted on the very first day that we are living in a society where you are judged on your physical appearance, thus the importance of dressing up for tournaments.

By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 10:38 am: Edit

Thanks for your responses, Idiias and Kfc4u, I will pass them along. The ironic thing is that this young lady, in her elegant black pants suit and her hair up, was mistaken for a judge.

By Geniusash (Geniusash) on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 03:26 pm: Edit

The coach can't MAKE her wear pants. We had the same policy on my team, not because "sex sells" but women just generally look more professional in skirt suits. Interp people could get away with wearing pants, but for other categories, go skirts!

By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 04:05 pm: Edit

In this case, she wants to wear pants, but the new coach won't allow it (the old coach did). I am not familiar with S&D, but it sounds like the visual presentation is pretty important.

By Caseyt (Caseyt) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 03:37 am: Edit

This is a big deal. One of the winning speeches at AFA-NIET in 2003, the national championship for individual events, was about this issue. The competitor was told by her coach to wear a skirtsuit. She had some in her wardrobe, but refused to wear them on principle. She recieved a ballot from a round telling her to wear a skirtsuit, that it would make her look more professional. So she photocopied and blew up the ballot, and wrote an entire speech on the matter, passing out buttons that hundreds of people wore with the word "PANTS" on them. She won nationals with this speech.

Tell your young friend not to give in.

By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 10:54 am: Edit

Caseyt -
thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! Now she's got ammo.

By Squiddd (Squiddd) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 12:11 pm: Edit

Is this a public school? I'm not sure, there may be laws not allowing the debate coach to force skirts on her in a public school. Although, even if not, or if it is private, it is outrageous. I had a similar situation in my highschool (which was private)and we took a stand. We sited cases of sexual discrimination and harrassment from legal cases that were based on similar, outdated, sexist principles. Asking students to dress up and look professional is fine...in the real world we do have to dress up to be taken seriously. But, in this day and age, many women do that with pants and not skirts. Also, encouraging "sex sells" especially in a highschool setting would be doubly outrageous. My 2 cents.

By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 01:13 pm: Edit

Hi, Squidd
yes, its a public school. One of the things the kids were thinking of was having the guys show up in kilts. Good enough for British royalty, after all...

By Kissy (Kissy) on Tuesday, September 21, 2004 - 11:28 am: Edit

Ohio MOm- from our experiences, there's a bit of a difference between speech and debate attire. I've always thought that debate attire is a bit more business-like than that of speech. Female debaters in our circuit wear pantsuits, for the most part, and sometimes skirts. Being more dramatic, speech competitors often dress more casually, wearing something to enhance their theatrical presentations. Most of the speech competitors I've seen wear slacks. This comes from a public school which participates on the national circuit. Hope this helps.

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