School Dress Codes-Needed Rules or Society Gone Crazy?

school uniforms

Are Dress Codes Necessary?As a conservative minded mother, I will say from the start that I appreciate school dress codes. My own children attended schools where uniforms were a requirement. Instead of the morning routine becoming a tug of war between a child’s will and the parent’s desire for what to wear, there might only be a discussion about what is for breakfast. Power struggles concerning clothing disappear along with student competition regarding who got the latest, greatest, name-brand garment on the market.


However, not everyone sees the advantages of having a school dress code. Schools throughout the country have banned various clothing for an array of reasons, causing claims of sexism and extremism among parent bodies. A Chicago-area middle school banned leggings and tight yoga pants for girls. Other states have forbidden non-human hair colors in the classroom. At least one Colorado school prohibited the number 18 from being worn since it was associated with a certain gang.


The question begs to be asked, “Where will it end?” Isn’t it natural for people to want to show there individualism? Is it the girls’ responsibility to cover up because boys have raging hormones, as many of the schools profess? Is wearing pink hair to remind people of Breast Cancer Awareness Month the same as wearing purple hair to show which gang you belong to? If this week’s gang number is 18, who can say that next week’s gang number won’t be 7?


Many believe that part of proper education should be teaching students to respect each other in all ways, especially concerning gender and personality differences. More specifically, it is felt that placing most of the burden of modest dress on girls not only gives boys free reign to behave with disrespect towards girls but also encourages girls to misuse their sexuality to get ahead in “a man’s world” and to remain silent in the face of abuse and sexual harassment because, “it must be their fault for dressing inappropriately.”


Perhaps rather than school administered dress codes, we not only need to teach students about mutual respect but also about proper attire and behavior for various occasions. Discussions relating to appropriate apparel and acceptable behavior for going to school, attending a rock concert, or visiting grandparents, for example, might go a long way in helping our future adults make better personal choices in their lives.


What do you think?


school uniforms

28 Responses to School Dress Codes-Needed Rules or Society Gone Crazy?

  1. Jacky P says:

    As a teacher I find a uniform helpful, especially when taking children out on a trip. I also think that having a simple uniform, like a polo shirt and sweater as they look smart, gives a sense of belonging to a community and hopefully is worn with pride. What I don’t agree with is the lengths that some schools go to to impose rigid rules, like girls’ hairbands can only be in the school colour or black, watch straps can only be a certain colour, skirts must be in one certain style. To me this is just crazy and I think that schools with these very rigid rules need to take a step back and question what difference it makes to the education of the children. Maybe energy would be better focussed on developing other skills like respect, tolerance and open-mindedness.
    I work abroad and in a country where school uniform is not usual and in some cases parents find the idea of the uniform goes back to a time of communism in the country and they do not appreciate it, so schools also need to be aware of cultural differences.

    • Tsivya Fox says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jacky. I agree with you that a uniform with simple, manageable rules can be an asset along with the teaching of respect, tolerance and open-mindedness.

    • Tsivya Fox says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jacky. I agree with you that a uniform with simple, manageable rules can be an asset along with the teaching of respect, tolerance and open-mindedness.

    • Sam L. J. says:

      “…I also think that having a simple uniform, like a polo shirt and sweater as they look smart, gives a sense of belonging to a community…” What does ‘looking smart’ mean? Albert Einstein looked ‘smart’? What does the power of your brain have anything to do with what you look like? Responsibility, integrity, and passion should never be measured by clothing.

  2. Sophie Desgland says:

    I was educated in a country where uniforms are not part of education. We all managed in between arguments with our parents about what to wear and keeping our best / most expensive clothes for out of school activities. There was no sexism. I now work and live in a country where uniforms are part of school life, some schools include coats, hats and bags in the uniform. Whilst it makes my life easy as there is no discussion with my child at home about what to wear, as a teacher, I find myself constantly reminding students about shirt having to be tucked in, length of ties, blazer sleeves down, etc… I guess that if they could wear what they wanted, the argument would be about what is acceptable in order to preserve modesty and not expose teachers to body parts they would rather not see.

    • Tsivya Fox says:

      Hi Sophie,

      I imagine that you are quite correct. If the teacher isn’t forced to make sure students are adhering to the school uniform, they will no doubt be spending time maintaining a decent appearance.

  3. Lawrence Wertan says:

    I taught school for 30 + years, and yes society has gone quite nuts. I was a product of 50s and early 60s Catholic education and began teaching in 1972 after a stint in the army and college. In 1972, before everyone became a victim, and the courts and State Ed. departments began running the schools, there was local control of public education. Public high school kids could not come to school in jeans and tennis shoes or shirt tails out. You would be sent home to change or your parents would be called to come pick you up. While I know this is antidotal, it summarizes everything wrong with schools today, toward the end of my teaching career, which couldn’t come fast enough, an 11th grade girl pulled up her shirt her revealing naked breast to show everyone the new tattoo. Yeah, put them in uniforms. When you dress like ladies and gentleman, you act like ladies and gentleman.

    • Tsivya Fox says:

      Your quote is well taken: When you dress like ladies and gentleman, you act like ladies and gentleman.

      Thanks for posting.

  4. Anne Tenaglia says:

    As a child, I spent 12 years in Catholic schools and hated every second of wearing a uniform. I do understand that it was cheaper for my mother to buy a couple uniforms and blouses rather than having to have school clothes for every day. I also spent the last 37 years teaching in Philadelphia schools where we have had a dress code for about a decade. I did not see a sudden change in attitude when we got uniforms. Kids that were pains, continued to be pains. What did change was what was being stolen. Where before it may have been fashionable clothes worn to school, it turned into shoes as the new fashion trend. Our uniform code only stipulated a certain color pants and shirt, not certain shoes. Although, sandals and flip flops were prohibited. That was mainly due to the sad state of our play yard which was covered on asphalt. Personally, I don’t see the value of uniforms other than making sure the poor kids don’t get teased for their clothes. They do get teased for their shoes now, though.

    When I wore a uniform, I didn’t care in grade school, bit in high school where we were trying to develop our own individual styles, it was a pain. These days, I am sure the kids feel the same way, but now I see a need for the bullying that went on because kids didn’t have the latest fashion. As far as I am concerned, that’s the only reason for uniforms.

    • Tsivya Fox says:

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for sharing your interesting insights. I do feel that if uniforms help a bit with bullying, that is certainly a positive thing.

  5. David says:

    I teach at a private Catholic school in Colombia. There’s a dress code and uniforms of course. Students typically attempt to express their individuality by not conforming to the dress code. Girls do so by hiking up the skirt above the knee and wearing make-up. Boys leave their shirts untucked or unbuttoned. So I disagree that uniforms reduce the number of things to nag over with our students. One way or another, students who want to challenge authority will do so in a school -with or without a dress-code.

    That said, I would like to read a study about school behavior and school uniforms. Are there any studies that have found students behave/perform better in schools with uniforms? I know there are other variables at play that make such a study challenging, but it isn’t impossible to determine if there’s a link or not.

    As an army brat, I attended a variety of public schools and 1 private school. I found that I did my best as a student when I attended Scollard Hall in North Bay. Did the uniform have anything to do with it?


    • Tsivya Fox says:

      Thanks for writing. Your question is well taken-Do school uniforms help with behavior and school performance? I will try to do some research and if I find anything compelling will be happy to blog about it.

  6. Dean says:

    I’ve spent my entire career (12 yrs) in schools without uniforms. Over these years, I’ve noticed an increasing disconnect between society and schools in general. This is another example of that disconnect. We want our young people to grow up as critical thinkers, problem-solvers, being independent, entrepreneurial, and being able to make good choices (competencies instead of knowledge memorization). And yet, here we are trying to control yet another aspect of life for our students. Teach students to respect themselves and each other instead of forcing it onto them. Achievement levels have nothing to do with the clothes on your back – it is the education provided by the teachers, administrators, and school community as a whole that impacts their success. Let’s focus on the numeracy and literacy of our students – things that really matter.

  7. verof says:

    In France we are not used to uniforms or dress codes, however the question turns now upon religious (wearing a islamic headscarf, or a cap )or cultural appearance ( skirts up to where?, low baggies down to where?). The question is a lot wider than the school aerea, it questions the society, its codes and where we want to go as a group of people living together. School rules reflect what goes on outside, and no matter what we try as educators it mingles in the whole of what makes the youngster’s life. In France school is free and complusory until 16, so what do we do with those who do not compel with the rules? With what cost to the society?

    • Tsivya Fox says:

      The issue of religious dress in the public sector can be complicated. Some can claim that their “gang” is their religion and therefore they dress for the gang. Serious food for thought. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Claudia says:

    School train for life, guess what, out there, in the real world, there is a dress code that you must abide to, if you are a lawyer, a doctor or you are flipping burgers, you will have a uniform. So, school uniform will only help you get use to it sooner!!!

  9. Diana Bryan says:

    The main reason that everyone should be in a school uniform is to recognize people that do not belong on campus period.

    I have worked in schools that had only a minimal dress code and I have seen very very short skirts on girls. Also when students are walking up and down stairs routinely flip flops should be banned.

    • Tsivya Fox says:

      Hi Diana,

      It is a good idea to include in school dress codes the idea of safety. Thanks for sharing.

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