Which Do You Prefer: School Uniforms Or Free Choice?

by Colleen Shibley

When I was in school years ago (no need to actually state how many) the only kids that wore school uniforms were those in catholic or private schools. They were unheard of in public schools.

As a child of course I was happy I had my choice of clothes and wasn’t told what to wear. I loved shopping with my mother each school year and picking out “cool” outfits.

It is amazing how things change when you become an adult. An adult that has to purchase these “choice of clothes” for a child, and listen to how John has these shoes, and Jane has those jeans and I want them too!

school uniforms

Thankfully the only time I’ve really dealt with the “keeping up with the Joneses” was when it came to shoes. The boys are picky about their shoes. My daughter though at the age of 6 is already starting to show brand favoritism (SIGH).

In elementary school in our area our children wear uniforms. No expensive, school logo, preppy uniforms but uniforms just the same. In most schools the children are allowed to wear 2 or three different color of bottoms (khaki, navy blue, and black). These bottoms can be slacks, shorts, or skirts. However no cargo pants, mini skirts, or cut offs.

At our particular school the children can wear any solid color polo shirt. No patterns, no logos (except school logos), just solid colors. I found the uniforms in elementary school to be a gift to parents. It was easy to purchase 5-7 pieces of each clothing tops and bottoms, socks, shoes, and a belt. No fighting with your child on what was appropriate or how to dress.

Once you enter middle school the uniforms become a thing of the past. In fact the first two years of my oldest son’s middle school years they had a lenient dress code. The normal shorts must be a certain length, no holes, your pants must be pulled up.

My son started out wearing jeans and a t-shirt and slowing moved into wear athletic shorts and wrinkled shirts. The kid looked like he rolled out of bed and went to school. When you wear athletic shorts t-shirts rarely look right with them.

However despite my feelings on his appearance when in 8th grade the discussion was had regarding instituting uniforms I was very much against it. I did feel at the ages of 11-13 kids should be allowed a little more individuality.


Also the thought of buying a ton of uniforms only to be discarding the following year because he would be entering high school was not at all appealing. As the 7th grade year came to an end a decision was made. It wasn’t that uniforms would be enforced but that a strict dress code would take the place of the lenient one.

My son had to wear collared shirts with no inappropriate language or huge logos. However unlike elementary they could be striped, patterned, have images, etc. Their pants had to zip and button, no elastic waist band pants.

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While my son was not at all happy I found that I LOVED the new dress code. My son was forced back to jeans and now a collared shirt. I thought he looked very nice when he left for school in the morning.

Now my son is in high school and it appears the dress code their has reverted back to and worse then the old one in middle school. I attended orientation with my son. I heard all the do’s and don’ts on clothing however it wasn’t until I started dropping my son off in the mornings that I noticed the dress code was not taken very seriously.

I witnessed girls trotting onto campus with shirts barely covering their mid sections. Boys wearing white tank tops (you know the undershirt kind). Girls wearing flip flops that looked like they were purchased at the dollar store.


Now living in Florida I’m all for wearing flip flops we have some very nice looking flip flops but the kind you wear to the beach, not really a good shoe to be wearing to school. I saw girls in skin tight leggings with a normal t-shirt, boys in sweat suits.

I never would have thought I would be a parent that was pro uniforms and strict dress codes but today I am just that. I miss the days when my son looked put together and clean cut when he walked out the door to school.

Thankfully the only change is he has ditched the collared shirts and replaced them with t-shirts but has stuck with the jean shorts. I just wish that the high school would take a more active role in the dress code like the middle school did. How you look is the first impression one makes when entering a room.

So how do you feel about uniforms and dress codes?

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
This entry was posted in Debates, Education, Reflections and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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