May 2022 Volume 18

A Commentary on Proper Grooming and Dress Code at KC

Errol Lecky
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With the matter of the school’s dress code being a current hot topic, it might be instructive to look back at the history of proper grooming and dress code at KC.

In 1983 the wearing of the KC School Boy tie was challenged and a switch to the use of epaulets was being promoted by some. The New York chapter of the Old Boys Association researched and identified a supplier that could produce quality ties at a reasonable price. These ties were then made available to students at cost.

That was 39 years ago. KC did not cave in to what was popular in that instance.

The following extract from page 57-58 of the History of Kingston College 1925 to 1995 reveals Bishop Gibson’s thinking on the importance of proper grooming and dress at the school.

PROPER DRESS AND GROOMING

Gibson declared that appearance was critically important to success. In the early days, he would have inspection, when fingernails, shoes, and state of apparel would be examined and marks awarded or deducted. He often said that one of the reasons the English refused to promote Jamaicans, was the claim that we did not know how to dress properly on the appropriate occasion.

To stress his emphasis on dress, he introduced the wearing of a neck tie by all students as a part of the uniform. Widely ridiculed for many years, it became a badge of honour and has since been copied by other schools, the same aim in view.

He himself was a model of proper dress. In the early days, he always wore white, and his suit was always spotless. In the 1950s and later, he wore a brown worsted outfit with black shoes every day. He often said: "Whenever I have been invited no one could ever say that I did not meet the standards required." He was not boasting.

He was coming from a time when the halls of power had few dark faces, and he was anxious that any KC boy who got an opportunity would not be disqualified on spurious grounds.

This attention to dress became a hallmark of the Kingston College boy and adult. A deliberate style of upright walk was also imposed, and for many years, KC boys were known to the masses as 'boasy'.

The aspiring Jamaicans loved it, as well as the little man who was widely acclaimed 'the boasiest black man in Jamaica'.

Ambassador Keith Johnson 11933-19391 was a tall, stately figure, who developed a distinguished gait. He remembers the headmaster saying in admiration: "Johnson, you walk as if you had been to Eton." [12]

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