Principals across Tauranga don't need to enforce what students should wear to their school balls, the students already know.

St Dominic's College in Henderson has banned students from wearing dresses with plunging necklines, low backs and leg splits above the knee at its seniors ball in July.

Several students had expressed their anger over the policy this week, as they had already bought their dresses.

One told NZME they had to get their ball outfits approved by the associate principal.

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Otumoetai College held its school ball last weekend and principal Dave Randell said none of the outfits worn by the students raised any eyebrows on the evening.

Mr Randell, who had read about St Dominic's, thought the school was making more problems for itself.

"There may have been one or two dresses that I [wondered about]. But I am a pretty conservative old dad.

"Every year our seniors have a fashion parade for the school and it shows the students the standard of attire we expect. It's not a rule but the young people certainly live up to it.

"The kids looked brilliant."

Mr Randell said he had never considered introducing a dress code for the annual function.

"It's never been an issue. The students know our standard and they aspire to it."

Otumoetai College head girl Marnie Hunter, 17, said the debate about St Dominic's rules was interesting.

"Girls' dress codes are a touchy subject. Especially with an event like a ball. The way people dress is the way they express themselves so when you are putting restrictions on it, it becomes a bit tough."

Miss Hunter wore a long, navy blue dress with a V neck on the front and back of the dress.

Tauranga Girls' College principal Pauline Cowens said their school ball, which was on tonight, was a privilege for their Year 13 students.

"They plan and run the event and we find that once our students have reached Year 13 they understand what a formal event is and what is suitable attire to wear when attending one."

Aquinas College principal Ray Scott said the college had not set rules regarding what students could or could not wear to the extent of the Auckland school being quoted. "We expect them to be in formal attire," he said.

Aquinas was also hosting its school ball this evening.