The History of LSU Clothing Regulations from 1950-1970
Madison Williams, Emma Troth, and Marcus Suttleff
Men and women throughout the years at Louisiana State University have been subjected to regulations on apparel. Like any other campus, there are spoken and unspoken rules on what constitutes appropriate dress, but the rules codified by LSU between 1950 and
1970 are of particular interest. Every student had to be dressed in a way that was deemed modest by the University. These rules were published within the student handbook, also known as The L Handbook. Rules for every aspect of student life were included in the student handbook but student clothing seemed to be the most noteworthy of these rules. Within the handbook, there were numerous paragraphs on what clothing was acceptable in public, particularly for women. The 1959-1961 L Handbook, states, “LSU
coeds are expected to be appropriately dressed and well groomed at all times.”(32) Female students being viewed as modest and well kept was so important to the school that it warranted strict regulation. In the 1950s to 1970s, uniformity was a important factor in LSU’s society. With such a restrictive dress code, many students wore similar clothing, and few stood out. It wasn’t until around 1970 and beyond when unique and scandalous clothing styles became socially acceptable and were encouraged on and off campus.
Women who attended Louisiana State University around 1950 to 1970 had a set of rules to follow when regarding clothing. In reading the handbook, it is evident that women students were subject to many more regulations on what to wear compared to male students. Women were told to always dress modestly and wear clothing that covers up most of their bodies as shown in figure 2 above from the sorority Delta Gamma in 1950. Within the rules for women’s clothing regulations, it stated “It is expected that the behavior and appearance of an LSU coed shall at all times reflect the gentility, refinement and decorum of a lady.” (26) In many pictures posted in the student yearbook named Gumbo, women’s dress is noticeably modest. Women students wear long skirts or dresses down to the ankle, paired with a button up shirt. These articles of clothing would be deemed appropriate on and off campus. Women students were not allowed to wear pants until the 70s. As shown to the left, figure 3, from the year book, Gumbo 1950, women played golf in skirts and button down tops during the 1950s to 1970s. Women were held to a higher standard than men when it came to clothing, leading to a noticeable difference in what was socially expected from women students compared to men students.
LSU women’s rules and regulations prior to 1970 were extensive, covering standards of dress and behavior on and off campus. The 1967 L Handbook states under the standards of conduct and dress provision that women are expected to be refined exemplify the decorum of a lady. This expectation, though now outdated, was very strictly enforced at the time. Women were forced to go home and change if their outfits or appearance were not in accordance with the standards of dress. These standards were also enforced off-campus, not just at school-sponsored events but under all extra-curricular circumstances. “LSU coeds are expected to be appropriately dressed and well groomed at all times.” (32) In 1959, less than a decade prior to these regulations, The L Book contained even more restrictions. Included among these was, “Regular shorts are worn only when participating in sports activities. A skirt is worn over shorts to and from these activities.” (28) Additional restrictions were placed on women’s pants, housecoats, uncovered hair rollers, and slippers. These rules for women were significantly different compared to male students.
The rules for men weren’t as detailed as they were for girls. The men’s rules were simple and easy to abide by. Men had to wear pants such as khakis and a polo or button down dress shirt. An example of this style is shown by the figure 4 above. During these times, all male students of Louisiana State University were to follow and comply with the nine general conduct regulations. There were not many rules on clothing, but there were
regulations regarding on-campus life for a male. The general conduct regulations were recorded in The L Book. All the regulations were posted in all residence halls. These rules were for on and off campus activities and had to be followed. Girls were only allowed into the fraternity houses during certain hours, when the housemother were there, or for LSU approved social calendar events. Women were allowed inside residence units but only in the lounges or the “Hatcher” or “Pentagon” cafeterias during regular hours scheduled for business. Men under the age of 21 were required to live in residence halls on campus unless the student lived with his parents or in private homes. This was only for students whose homes were in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The rest of the men that were 21 and older who decided to live off campus were required to tell the Dean of Men of any change in residence. All men were to dress appropriately for every occasion and if the standards weren’t matched you were subject to disciplinary actions. For formal events, men were expected to wear suits as in figure 5 above. Male students were only allowed in women’s dorm rooms and sorority houses if authorized by the Dean of Women and her staff. If a male student didn’t obey the rules and went without the consent of the Dean of Women and her staff, the student was subjected to potential expulsion from the University. Male students were not allowed to participate in riots and if a male student was involved it would have resulted in dismissal from the University. Haircutting for first semester freshman was a tradition on the campus. All male students had their hair buzzed as a way for people to know that they were new to the school. Finally, students that used physical force to cut others’ hair would be in violation of the LSU hazing rules. The male students were required to know and abide by all nine of these general conduct regulations and if not, they were to be subjected to either dismissal or suspension.
Men and women students’ on-campus and off-campus standards of dress and behavior were for many years a form of social shaping that reinforced societal standards and encouraged women to follow in the traditional role of a woman. These rules were unbalanced and allowed much greater freedom to men than to women on and off campus. Ultimately, the inequalities in clothing and behavioral regulations between men and women students would not stand the test of time. In large part due to the LSU Student Government’s efforts, the L handbook ceased publication after 1969. This ushered in a new freedom of dress and activity among the student body that would continue from the 1970s to the present.
“Gumbo Yearbook, Class of 1950” (1950). Gumbo Yearbook. 50.
“Gumbo Yearbook, Class of 1960” (1960). Gumbo Yearbook. 60.
“University Regulations.” The L Book, 1967, pp. 23–33.
“University Regulations.” The L Book, 1959, pp. 24–30.