Dress Codes: On the Clothes Line

The Ohio State University did not have an official dress code for its students. However, student residents living in the dorms on campus were required to follow certain requirements for dress when in the dorms. There was also an unofficial dress code on campus, particularly for women, dating to some of the earliest years they attended Ohio State.

The Women’s Self-Government Association (WSGA) was an official university organization to which all women automatically belonged. The primary function of the WSGA was to set the “women’s rules” or the required codes of conduct. The WGSA sent a handbook to all incoming Freshman women which detailed rules regarding curfew, male visitors, leaving campus for travel and participating in campus events. One of the features of each handbook was an article detailing advice about what to wear once women arrived on campus. While its name changed several times over the years, it was frequently referred to as “The Clothes Line.” One handbook from the 1950s provides the following advice:

“Since OSU is a casual place our coeds’ wardrobes are made up largely of skirts, jumpers, sweaters, and blouses. It is good to have an ample, basic supply of these outfits but leave room for those you may wish to buy during the year. To complement these outfits and add a touch of interest it is good to have a supply of scarves, collars, and tailored jewelry. Always a favorite anywhere, loafers and saddles are popular at OSU.”

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Dress Codes: On the Clothes Line