Dress Codes

The issue of dress codes is so varied on blogs. Some people love them and others hate the idea of them.  I personally wouldn’t have minded having uniforms.  I think that way, everyone looks so nice.  It also would take away a lot of hurt feelings when some kids can’t wear top designer fashions and are teased and left out. We all know how kids can be and I’ve seen it first-hand when kids are made fun of because of what they wear or don’t wear. It’s very hurtful at times to some kids.

I guess I also have a problem with a way a lot of “dress code” issues are handled.  I also wonder who makes the rules and who follows them.  This is something I got into on another blog one day.  

This boy wore anti Obama t-shirt to school and was asked to either remove it, turn it inside out or be suspended.  Now there’s a big uproar as to “freedom of speech” blah, blah, blah going on about it. Here’s one where kids were suspended for promoting underage drinking. Here’s one, child wearing pepsi t-shirt on coke day.

Here’s one where a bunch of school girls dyed their hair pink to honor their school nurse who had just died of breast cancer.  The principal said “dyed hair is distracting.”

You can look at all the crazy things like this you want.  All you have to do is google “suspended” and you’ll find all kinds of them.  Most of them are kind of silly if you ask me.

For me personally, uniforms would stop all this kind of stuff.  But my question is in the day to day school life, who decides what kids can wear or not?  There’s no “dress code violator guard” at the front door to decide if a kid can get in or not. Nobody comes in and checks the kids first thing in the mornings to “make sure” everyone is wearing okay stuff.  So does it fall to the teacher to decide if all the kids are wearing appropriate clothing?  Some may say the parents should make sure the kids are okay as they walk out the door for the day.  But we all know once a kid hits a certain age, there’s not a whole lot you can do once they leave your house. They could trade clothes with a friend or any number of other things.

Here’s what happened to me.  Jason had a Chevy truck t-shirt. It had a great big red truck and a girl in a bikini.  It said “I don’t drive no ugly truck.”  It wasn’t a real woman or even a real truck.  It was kind of cartoon-ized.  I can’t remember now how old he was.  I thought he was a senior but now that I think hard about it, he might have been a junior.  Anyway, he wore this shirt ALL THE TIME.  It was a regular part of his wardrobe. I felt he was old enough to wear what he wanted and nobody had a problem with it, I’d seen worse shirts.  One day Toby wore that shirt and I got a call to bring him a different shirt to school.  The principal didn’t want to call me and almost was embarrassed when he said “so and so” didn’t like it you should bring him up another shirt to which I did.

Should I not have let him wear the shirt, maybe not but Jason had been wearing it all year and he was either 17 or 18 at the time. Also, it wasn’t Toby’s first hour teacher that had the problem with the shirt.  It was third hour.  So this means at least two other teachers saw this shirt and didn’t think anything of it but the one who had the problem with it has the power to make a kid change??

So in other words, this would fall on teachers to try and police. I’m not sure that’s the right thing either.  Let’s face it, we don’t all like the same things and some of us think some things are okay and others not.  A kid could also be asked to turn a shirt inside out in one class and change it back after the class was over and hope the next teacher wouldn’t mind the shirt.  It’s such an individual thing when it comes to who’s offended and who’s not.  One day someone might also be in a crappy mood and another day tired of the whole thing and let a shirt go.  So then how are the kids supposed to know if one day they can wear something and the next day they can’t.

I mean, I know life isn’t always fair but both kids wear the same shirt and one has worn it all year and the other wears it once and is told he has to change it.  If the administration is at odds, how are we to know?

I really don’t know the answer to this but there is so much “suing” now for “personal” rights and “freedom of speech” that it almost seems to me that if everyone had to wear a choice of a few different things, the problem would be a lot easier.

What do you think?  How can it be solved?

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17 Responses to Dress Codes

  1. SKL says:

    Well, first of all, I think adults shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it, and then kids wouldn’t, either. I mean, parents can talk to the school and refuse to let their child serve a detention or suspension, but do they really need to take it to the Supreme Court? Maybe there should be some rule that schools can’t be sued for money over alleged first amendment violations. I think they have a rule like that about injuries – or they used to – at least where I live. If there are no monetary rewards for suing the school, maybe fewer taxpayer resources will be wasted on these matters.

    I grew up without uniforms, so I guess I’m biased against them. My family was large and, by today’s standards, poor. Our clothes were usually hand-me-downs, Salvation Army bargains, or products of my grandma’s sewing machine. It may sound weird, but we couldn’t afford school uniforms. In those days, the girls in Catholic schools had to buy wool uniforms that usually included very short plaid skirts. We live near the “snow belt” where it’s idiotic to wear short skirts, even if you wanted to show off your legs; and who wants to have to keep a wool uniform clean? My next-door neighbor had exactly one uniform that she wore 180 days per year, and it wasn’t washable. My attitutudes about uniforms probably stem from this background.

    I always had the most un-fashionable clothes in school, yet that never really bothered me. One girl commented on my shoes once in the 4th grade, but that’s about it. I agree that kids can be mean, but I saw more criticisms of people’s glasses, hair, skin, and body type than their clothes. And when the clothes were the topic, it was usually because they were ill-fitting or worn sloppily (unzipped, shirttails out). Usually, kids whose clothes were picked on had social / developmental issues that generated the comments; right or wrong, they would have been picked on no matter what they wore. I attended both a Lutheran elementary school in a large city and a rural public high school, and this was the case in both places. So I guess I’m not convinced that uniforms will solve many of the world’s problems.

    Now about teachers’ clothing bias. With all due respect to most teachers, some teachers are just idiots. And school rules are often too subjective. I think we have to teach kids not to take teachers’ attacks too seriously. I think when I was a kid, I would have just laughed and changed the shirt. I would have been glad I got a rise out of a teacher, and left it at that, as far as the school was concerned. I mean, yeah, I would have complained with my friends and family, but mostly for the drama benefit. Personally, the only thing I wanted to accomplish at school was to get the heck out of there. I didn’t care if the teachers liked me or not, as long as they passed me and graduated me. I’d comply with the rules just enough to continue my path toward graduation, but bend the rules just enough to keep things interesting – to keep myself awake until the final bell rang.

    I had a classmate who was taking 10th grade gym as a senior. The reason? She was flunked for cussing out the teacher in grade 10. So what did she do the next year? She waited until after the end of the last class, and then walked up and cussed out the same gym teacher. Well, she got flunked again. So now, as a senior, she had to not only take gym for a fourth year with the same teacher, but walk on eggshells lest her diploma be denied. Now, myself, no matter how much I wanted to cuss someone out, I would have had the self-restraint to wait until I had the diploma in my hand first. I will never understand why people will cut off their nose to spite their face. Like anyone else in the big universe cares? When I was a kid, this attitude was a rarity, but nowadays, it seems many people are encouraging kids to be activists in school and court trouble. Who cares whether it’s fair or not – why would anyone want to spend more time dealing with a high school than absolutely necessary? Is it really going to make our country better if we have a bunch of under-aged, hormone-charged youths demonstrating for freedom to express their every urge? I don’t think so.

    I feel that minor children don’t have a protected right to break the school dress code to express themselves. As a parent, I will give guidance on respectful behavior, and I’ll teach my kids that I don’t want to hear of them getting in trouble at school. There may be times when I vehemently disagree with the school, and in that case, I’ll deal with it like an adult, but my kids will be instructed to exhibit respect and restraint.

    As far as the “girls and cars” t-shirt – I think your son just ran into an idiot teacher, and you handled it the same way I would. And I would have been ticked too, unless the written rules clearly prohibited the shirt, which they probably didn’t. But, I’d consider the source, and look forward to the day when I wouldn’t have to deal with it any more.

    This reminds me of when my brother was 18, just before graduating high school. He had cigarettes in his pocket. He was legally allowed to buy and smoke cigarrettes. He wasn’t smoking them or distributing them in school, but a teacher reported him for possessing them and he was suspended for a week. Well, my mom tried to argue with them – how do you punish an adult for having something in his pocket that adults are allowed to have, and indeed many of the teachers had and smoked on the premises? And how stupid is it to keep him from classes? But it fell on deaf ears. Well, in the big scheme of things, that was one week out of a long life, during which many cigarrettes were smoked, I might note. My brother graduated and went to college and became a highly skilled computer geek – who still smokes, by the way. Meanwhile, those little people who turned him in are still hanging out in the halls of the high school, seeking out evil cigarettes (and aspirin, Midol, etc.) to this very day. I kinda feel sorry for them.

  2. SanityFound says:

    Can’t really comment on this re the dress code, here we all wear uniforms because it saves money. As for the shirt if it is offensive then sure, like wearing a shirt with swear words on etc but a simple shirt with a truck and woman on is just, well, a shirt.

    If the school has a problem with a childs dress code then they should write a letter to the parents and ask them to check the clothes that their kids wear and put in place clear guidelines as to what and what not can be worn.

  3. nikki says:

    I think uniforms would help with families that can’t afford a lot of clothes, and I think it would stop kids from teasing others b/c of what they are wearing. I also think that takes away from individuality too which isn’t good. Bailey has his own taste which is very “preppy” so he may like the uniform idea. I’m actually interested in seeing how HE feels about this, he’s sleeping. Bailey is also very picky on how his clothes fit and feel. One thing bothers him and he won’t wear it. He enjoys picking his own clothes out every morning, a since of growing up and being his own person. I wouldn’t want to take that away. I guess I wouldn’t be against it if it were ever to happen but I would never vote FOR it. I agree a CLEAR plan needs to be in place, not lets plan this dress code as we go crap. I’ve never had a problem with Bailey yet, he did wear a shirt this year I was iffy about, it was a picture of a light bulb and it said “I’m a freakin genius” I let him wear it had no problems except Bailey said one kid said it was a bad word. Whatever, we both thought it was funny and he’s worn it a few times. It was in the kids section so if you have a problem with that take it up with Walmart!!!!

  4. mssc54 says:

    Have you walked the halls of a high school lately?!

    What some “young ladies” wear boarders on obscene. Low cut blouses and short, short skirts that all look like they are sprayed on.

    Why is it that our young people are so sexualized?

    It begins at home. Parents are more willing to be their child’s best friend than to set boundries and be the parent.

    School uniforms just levels the playing field. If everyone where’s the same dorky clothes then there is little waisted time on peripheral matters.

  5. tessafroom says:

    Uniforms solve the problem here. With dress codes parents and kids don’t obey the rules, with uniforms it is hard not to.

    I grew up in Catholic school, so we had to wear the same cute outfit as all the other kids! (Really we didn’t think they were cute at the time lol) But girls did things to feel unique- hair styles, shorts under the skirts, socks lol Guys don’t care as much about all that. Kids will be kids and still pick on each other for whatever they can find, but uniforms solve a lot of other problems like too low cut, too short skirts, and offensive words, and kids who cannot afford the nice clothes are saved from that torment.

    With uniforms, kids realize they are more alike than different than each other, at least in my school. Because the stories I’ve heard from Eric and other kids, OMG, we were not near as mean as all you public school kids!! LOL

  6. tessafroom says:

    Uniforms solve problems in the military also lol And they’re nice cuz you don’t have to get up and worry what will I wear today…

  7. SKL says:

    I guess it bugs me that someone else could tell me how long my skirt was going to be or whether I was going to wear a skirt at all. Or other aspects of the uniform that might not work with my body shape or insecurities or whatever.

    Even the photo Joy posted here – I have never worn such a short skirt since I was in primary school. I don’t run around with bare legs. For one thing, I have a skin condition I’d like to cover up, and for another, I would feel half naked wearing a skirt like that. And I’m fairly sure that the school administration wouldn’t listen to my concerns and change the uniform.

    I know some folks have never had it any other way, and maybe if that had been my experience, I’d think nothing of it. I don’t know. But I am having a hard time picturing myself feeling comfortable in school with a short little skirt on. And if I’m not comfortable, how am I supposed to concentrate?

    I think its quite possible to keep kids from wearing low necklines and such. They always had rules against that when I was in school, and they enforced them. I know, what an old-fashioned idea.

  8. Joy says:

    I never had to wear a uniform either so I have no idea what they’re like. It’s my understanding that there are pants, skirts, vests, sweaters and different options that you can buy. Most are not “all the girls wear skirts and all the boys wear suits,” they are all similar but can be different.

    I guess my main problem with this is I feel they have to make “rules” and then stick with them for everyone. My biggest stink with that t-shirt was the fact that one of my kids could wear it and the other couldn’t. It was such a mixed message.

    They should say t-shirts that advertise or have “sayings” on them aren’t allowed. Or no dyed hair at all and then stick with it. Once you let one child do something and not the next is when it becomes unfair. Then I feel it becomes up to the teacher and then it becomes what’s okay with him/her.

  9. Sue says:

    I remember when we got uniforms for gym class. I think I was a ninth grader. It was to help keep all the name brands out and to make everyone feel “the same” and to make sure everyone had proper gym attire. It was nice to have clothes just for gym, but I don’t know how much it helped the families that couldn’t afford regular clothes much less clothes just for gym. And, if you had forgotten you clothes at home b/c you washed them, you got into trouble.

    I also remember when those T-shirts came out with the sexually intended message…what were they called?? Big John or something?? Our school did say we couldn’t wear those b/c they were a little much! I can picture one of my friends wearing it, but can’t remember what they are called!

    Some teachers are idiots and if my parents saw what I had on for school and let me go out in it, I don’t think the school can say much if they don’t have a dress code in place. Otherwise, it’s the parents job to make sure their children are dressed according to the rules. What ever happened to personal responsibility?

  10. nikki says:

    Big Johnson Sue? Is that it??

  11. Joy says:

    Yes, Big Johnson. Jason and Toby had a few of those.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I’m really pro-uniform….now….in fact I wish every job were able to wear them. I would love to wake up in the morning and open my closet without giving a 2nd thought to what I had to wear and not have to watch the witchy women in our office gather in little groups and take note of the particular shoes people wore that day or whether they mixed brown and black etc etc…it’s exhausting.

    Besides, I’m sick of buying professional clothes and having to keep track of what the current trends are when honestly I don’t care….

    Oh! Wait! Joy asked about KIDS and SCHOOL uniforms! My mistake! 😉

    I’m still pro-uniform. However if you had asked me that 15 years ago you would have gotten a very different answer. I used to think it was more important to be an individual. Then my husband became a teacher in a Catholic school and my attitudes changed drastically. We too live in a very cold climate. In the winter months the girls were allowed to wear pants under their skirts. The girls seemed to enjoy this and went out of their way to find various colored bright leggings and yoga pants. As another commenter mentioned they used special hair ties or jewelry to assert their individuality. My husband and I both noted (and perhaps we were biased) that when we went as a large group on field trips with the public school in town that the kids from the Catholic school always seemed better behaved. My husband’s theory was that as long as their uniform was on they slipped into ‘school mode.’ He wasn’t even sure it was conscious on their part. They knew the expectations. They were on the job. His theory was if they came to school and went on trips out in the same jeans and t-shirts that they wore all the time there was nothing to make the school experience any different than their other life experiences. He said the public school students had to have a hell of a good teacher that was capable of keeping the students in line in that case, but if they didn’t and the kids knew that they’d run wild. He was the first to admit that his kids could act up when he saw them outside of town, no kid is completely innocent, but he believed the uniforms helped to remind the kids that they had a job to do.

    When all of the BS of comparing status to one another is eliminated more learning can occur.

    Oh, and for the record, although not a Catholic school girl uniform, try wearing WOOL red cheerleader panties (you know the kind that go under your cheerleading skirt?). We handed uniforms down in my school, you were never expected to buy them…but that also meant horrible things like wearing 20 year old wool cheerleading skirts and wool red panties…

    Sometimes in the winter months I swear I still itch YEARS later…

  13. Jennifer says:

    I should add…

    My husband no longer teaches at that school. They unfortunately closed it about 8 years ago.

    As a parent now, I would welcome uniforms. I think there are other ways to encourage individuality rather than through commercialism.

    SKL, I’m not sure why most uniforms have the little skirt thing. I can especially see it being an issue for teens as the explore gender identity. I was always a tomboy and have always been more comfortable in jeans personally.

    BUT I think it would be totally fine if schools allowed jeans for high school students and had students wear t-shirts that were either solid colored in the school color, or had the school logo. Solid color would be more affordable than custom printed.

  14. Jennifer says:


    Tessafroom’s comment above makes me wonder if anyone has ever done a study to see if kids with uniforms ACTUALLY get ready faster in the morning….

    If so? Then I’m creating uniforms RIGHT NOW!

  15. joanharvest says:

    I wore a uniform when I was real little. We probably were considered on the poor side. Though I never felt that way. My kids never had to wear uniforms but like someone said here, kids learn from their parents. I was always able to let my kids pick out their clothes because they knew what was right and what wasn’t (thank goodness). I never had to make decisions as to what they could and couldn’t wear.

    I like the idea of jeans and solid colored T’s for a uniform. That’s what my kids wore anyway with the added flannel shirt over the T in the winter.

    I also think some teachers and schools take things too far. Everyone is so afraid to offend some one or some group. I don’t understand why people get offended so easily over the silliest things. Political correctness gone awry.

  16. I love wearing Uniform too. There should be Uniform in schools it brings equality and feelings to belong somewhere. I loved my school uniform. Wearing Coat and Tie. Even I used to think what if Jean and T-shirt is Uniform it would be cool. 🙂
    There is no uniform here at work but we have dress code… Codes and Rules never leave us.

  17. Just a Mom says:

    I personally like standardized dress codes. It is a lot cheaper on my pockets, the kids can concentrate more on school work instead of warddrobe issues and the teachers can teach because they do not have to police the kids clothing choices.

    Our high schools here do not have uniforms like our junior high schools do. Every day my daughter goes to her home room class in the morning and if they don’t get told they need to change something then they are good for the day unless the principal tells them they need to change.

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