Somebody in authority had to say it, and we’re not hearing it much in churches and schools. People are coming to public institutions poorly, shabbily or inappropriately dressed.

It took judges to remind us that it’s not judgmental to uphold and apply standards.

If you’re headed to traffic court in Bakersfield, Calif., better leave the flip-flops at home.

Have a court appearance in district court in Inkster, Mich.? Jeans are on the not-to-wear list.

And don’t even think of wearing short shorts to court in Dover, Del.

Judges in those jurisdictions and others across the USA are cracking down on skimpy, sloppy or what they consider inappropriate attire in an effort to maintain decorum and beef up security.

It’s about time. The concept of “inappropriate attire” needs to be revisited in our culture. ‘Decorum’ has only gone out of fashion in the language, but not in human behavior.

The headmaster of my son’s middle-school put it succinctly in an address to parents years ago when he explained that we tend to act as we dress, and when the young men are dressed in uniform with shirts tucked in and belts and ties, they act appreciably more civilized than on ‘dress down days’…

The USA Today piece quotes National Center for State Courts adviser Timothy Fautsko as saying something similar…that a dress code maintains order in the courtroom and upholds the dignity of the court. Bravo.

Courts are a place where serious business is conducted, and that demands appropriate attire, says Delaware Superior Court Judge William Witham Jr.

“We’re not out to treat people as school kids, but we do expect if you come to court, you need to treat it with the appropriate respect and dignity it should deserve due to the occasion,” he says.

And to church.

And by the way, the school kids need this reminder, too.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....