Should public schools require uniforms? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 140 Old 08-08-2013, 08:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's back to school time, and I have to buy a new middle schooler clothes for school. She has become concerned about fashion, image, and brand names. I don't want to spend a fortune, but I want her to fit in and not feel bad about what she's wearing or compare herself negatively to everyone else. Wow would it be easier to buy a few uniforms and know that these issues did not exist, at least not to the same level. I could buy the right brand of shoes, and nice earrings, and everyone would have the same clothes otherwise. It would be much easier to deal with.

What are your thoughts?
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#2 of 140 Old 08-08-2013, 08:14 AM
 
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For school I really wouldn't mind it.  There are a few here that do it and I know the parents breathe easier when the clothing bill is lower.  And the kids are still able to accessorize and wear shoes they like.

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#3 of 140 Old 08-08-2013, 08:23 AM
 
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I always like the idea for the most shallow of reasons; I like the private school look.  I do like the idea that it circumvents the fashion anxiety somewhat.  The kids bitch and moan about it, most parents like it.

 

Should it be required?  No. But I wish schools/parents would choose the option more often.  


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#4 of 140 Old 08-08-2013, 09:09 AM
 
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I think it'd be great for middle school. When the vote came around my sons elementary, I voted for it. There are plenty of benefits.

 

As to middle school fashion, it's at least a small window for most kids. The need for name brand stuff starts to fade and we don't see it in our local high schools. When DD was in middle, I would snatch up name brand stuff on major sale and then she'd supplement with affordable pieces. Now she could care less about the label. My DS who is currently in middle school doesn't care a lick but I do make sure he looks appropriate. In middle school, having the "right" clothes is your armor and actually helps you blend in more as opposed to making you stand out.


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#5 of 140 Old 08-08-2013, 10:01 AM
 
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DS and DD wore school uniforms when we lived in a country where it was a standard thing, even in the public school system. They weren't enthusiastic about it but it didn't upset them either. In fact, they still wear a few of the pieces (track pants, jumpers, school tie) even though they haven't attended those schools in years. It's an ironic retro/nostalgia thing. 

 

On the cost issue, the schools and parent councils had well-developed systems for re-selling or donating gently used uniform items. I thought that might be an opportunity for bullying ("Eww...your parents can't afford new") but it wasn't. I think there was a combination of factors. Lots of children were wearing hand-me-downs from older brothers and sisters, so it wasn't all that noticeable if you didn't have a brand new uniform. Also, the era of the 3R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) made it somewhat trendy to avoid buying new.  

 

I did like being able to identify students when we were traveling around because the uniforms were so recognizable. I think it tended to minimize some of the "highjinks" that kids get up to on public transit or in other public spaces. They knew that it was easier to track them down if they were misbehaving. 

 

There is another security benefit to the school uniform. In the city we live in now, a few public schools have instituted a uniform. Some of them are in the dodgiest part of town. Part of the reason for uniforms is to make trespassing non-students easily identifiable. 

 

Overall, I think there are several benefits to school uniforms. When this topic arises, I always mention that IMO, it's really only fair and reasonable if the faculty and staff also wear uniforms as well, like airlines or banks. That idea always goes over like a lead balloon  orngtongue.gif.   

 

 

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#6 of 140 Old 08-08-2013, 11:09 AM
 
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My son's elementary school doesn't have a uniform policy, but I know of a couple public elementary schools in our district that do. Most (maybe all, I'm not sure) of the area middle schools have either a uniform or a very strict dress code (for instance, khaki pants and collared shirts of any color). I think avoiding the fashion stress in middle school is a great idea.  All the parents I know whose kids attend these schools appreciate the ease in picking out clothes every day. Of course, it's easy to pick out my son's clothes too. He always wears jeans (or denim shorts in warm weather) and a t shirt. Any shirt goes with any pair of pants. It's like he has his own personal uniform :).


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#7 of 140 Old 08-08-2013, 06:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

Overall, I think there are several benefits to school uniforms. When this topic arises, I always mention that IMO, it's really only fair and reasonable if the faculty and staff also wear uniforms as well, like airlines or banks. That idea always goes over like a lead balloon  orngtongue.gif.   

 

 

 

At my daughter's school, faculty and staff wear the uniforms (khaki or black bottoms, collared shirts in specific colors) as well. :)


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#8 of 140 Old 08-08-2013, 07:47 PM
 
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I say a resounding "No" and "Ugh" to uniforms.

 

My kids (4th and 7th grade) are not into the latest fashion, but they are very much into expressing their own style through their clothes and accessories. They've made bags/purses this summer and are designing their own t-shirts to silk screen. Other summers we've tie-dyed (might still get around to that this year). They're into their own looks. They eschew brand name clothing. We just went shopping for back to school at Kohl's last weekend and they rejected anything they saw with a clothing company logo on it, so no worries there. We buy a lot of stuff at the thrift store, too. My kids have their own style and they definitely do not want to wear uniforms. I have asked in a very neutral way pointing out the benefits of  not having to choose what to wear to school and no one getting hung up on clothing or picked on for having the wrong thing, but they hate the idea of uniforms. I do, too, to tell you the truth. I didn't last long in the very few jobs I had where I had to wear a uniform. 

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#9 of 140 Old 08-08-2013, 08:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

 When this topic arises, I always mention that IMO, it's really only fair and reasonable if the faculty and staff also wear uniforms as well, like airlines or banks. That idea always goes over like a lead balloon  orngtongue.gif.   

 

 

 

 

That's my view as well.  I was told the teacher's union has negotiated them out of that possibility.  :(

 

Our local charter schools all use uniforms, and my kids have always been in charters.  They shirts are $16 freaking dollars and pants are upwards of $20.  Their claim that uniforms save parents money is bogus, unless a parent only buys 2 sets for the whole week.  If we were allowed to buy the pants and shirts at Walmart ($5 for a polo!) and then have the school sell iron on patches for a few bucks, then we'd be saving.  But they use the suppliers that charge a fortune for stupid shirts that the collars roll after the first wash and pants with belt loops that pull apart by end of first semester.  They've got us by the proverbial plums!

 

In a world without uniforms, kids can shop resale for EUC name brand clothes so they can fit in (is that always a good thing?) and still keep to a budget.  With uniforms, if money is tight and you go to the clinic to dig through the donations, you are only going to find faded, ripped, stained rejects which will loudly announce that your poor kiddo is wearing his classmates discarded uniforms.

 

And don't even get me started on the dress code requirements that are only ever half-assedly enforced, ie tucking in shirts and wearing belts.  One time, ds left his belt at his dad's after spending the weekend there.  My choices were let him miss a day of school or send him belt-less.  His pants fit properly, there was no chance of them falling down.  The school called to tell me I needed to leave work to bring ds a belt or he would have to spend the day in the office and have an after-school detention as well.  My suggestion that they call his father to bring the belt did not go over well, ds got out of class for a day, and I told them where they could put their detention. 


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#10 of 140 Old 08-09-2013, 05:56 PM
 
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I think it's safe to say that neither our local school district, nor my DD's charter school, will ever go the uniform route. Which is a good thing for both of my kids. My DS (still at his public school) has sensory issues with clothes. He doesn't like collared shirts and his pants have to feel "just right." My first grader LOVES clothes. She loves putting outfits together and choosing shoes to coordinate.
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#11 of 140 Old 08-10-2013, 10:20 AM
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Beyond the benefit of restricting dress to a certain style, color and length to try to create a standard equality of appearance, I think it's good to expose children to wearing a required dress. I have seen a lot of young adults who have absolutely no respect for the unofficial uniforms of adult life. I'm a fan of expressing your own style but I think it should be within the realm of what is appropriate for the particular setting and many have failed to learn that in their lives as children and young adults. 

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#12 of 140 Old 08-10-2013, 11:34 AM
 
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If the majority of local parents think so, then yes.  

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#13 of 140 Old 08-10-2013, 03:38 PM
 
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I hate uniforms, they are ugly and allow for almost no free expression. I hate working in places where uniforms are required because they also do the same thing. School is often stifling in so many ways, they don't need to stifle children's styles too.

Cost wise uniforms would make school way too pricey because I would have to buy uniforms or every day and regular clothes for every day after school.
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#14 of 140 Old 08-10-2013, 07:17 PM
 
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*double post*

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#15 of 140 Old 08-10-2013, 07:19 PM
 
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I like uniforms. From elementary til high school, I wore uniforms at school. It's what I'm comfortable with and takes the guesswork out of what to wear everyday (or even back to school shopping).

That said, uniforms will not eliminate the socio-economic differences that street clothes highlight. There will always be something. Whether it be shoes, socks (yep, we had white socks and even back then we knew which were the expensive white socks vs generic white socks), bags, jewelry, accessories, etc.

 

That's not even mentioning electronics and whatever kids are into nowadays.

 

That said, I love uniforms. But the thinking that it sorts of levels the field a bit is wrong. You're better off emphasizing to your children the realities of life and helping them deal with it.

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#16 of 140 Old 08-10-2013, 11:12 PM
 
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When my brothers were little we were poor and tgwy would get teased for clothing then one year uniforms and it stopped. I sm all for them.
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#17 of 140 Old 08-11-2013, 08:28 AM
 
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I love uniforms!  Of course, our school is pretty laid back - khaki bottoms, navy tops.  There's minimum length for shorts and skirts but any style of khaki is fine.  My daughter couldn't manage zippers and buttons in kindergarten (strength and fine motor issue) and we found a knit pull up skirt with shorts for her.  It was fine. Any style of khaki jumper dress is fine.  Any navy top - polo or collarless tee is fine.  Any shoes or tights are fine, with only a few exceptions - Crocs, because they slip on wet surfaces, and flip flops, because they were causing a lot of tripping.  No heels (yes, there are first grade girls with heels) on PE days.  No open toe shoes on PE days.  They can wear any school shirt (class shirt, spirit week, etc) on Fridays and there's an official (and cheap) navy school logo tee they can wear on week days.  They are also really good about making exceptions if there are issues - it's why they decided last year any navy tee was ok, because there are so many tagless tees available.

 

My daughter can wear her pirate hoodie, Spiderman gloves, striped tights, and boots and it's fine.  I know because it happens.

 

There is a lot of info available on getting uniforms inexpensively, and there's a very big consignment sale every spring and fall.  If you really want Polo and name brand, that's a great way to get it if you don't want to pay full price.

 

Our community doesn't seem to have any middle class (seriously, it may just be my family. Hi!  I'm here representing the middle class).  Everyone is either very very wealthy or poor.  There are a few kids with real Uggs and actual RL polos but the vast majority are shopping at Target.  I have this conversation with moms all the time - whatever you buy, they just get paint and mud on them, might as well send cheap things. 

 

The main pitch for uniforms in this community was that they wanted to level things out and they really have stayed true to that.  There's no making them wear a certain kind of sock or shoe or writing up demerits for cargo khakis instead of flat front plain khakis in a particular shade.  You don't have to buy one specific thing from one specific provider. 

 

The high school does not have uniforms and I really really hope they switch to them before my daughter gets there. 
 

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#18 of 140 Old 08-11-2013, 07:45 PM
 
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Add me to the list of parents who likes uniforms. 


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#19 of 140 Old 08-11-2013, 08:06 PM
 
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My kids attend a school with a uniform policy.... navy bottoms and white, collared shirts. Any collar (turtlenecks, polos, dress shirts... just so it has a collar) works and any navy bottoms - skirts, skorts, shorts, pants, jumper... just not jeans or athletic pants/sweatpants.  I can find those easily at garage sales and second hand stores so it really is cheaper. I can even find clothes at donation/free spots.  And it makes getting dressed in the morning easier on the kids... "Do you have your navy, do you have your white?"  Mix and match galore!

 

I like it. It's a lot easier. 

I can see not having uniforms being nice since I do so much second hand shopping for clothes and that would give more options but the benefit of half asleep kids climbing out of bed and only having to think of navy and white instead of matching/coordinating outweighs that.  I have to leave for work early so they have to be dressed and out of the house rather early too and usually haven't woken up enough to think of more than white, navy, where are my shoes, grab my backpack and go. 
 

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#20 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 02:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Cynthia Mosher View Post

Beyond the benefit of restricting dress to a certain style, color and length to try to create a standard equality of appearance, I think it's good to expose children to wearing a required dress. I have seen a lot of young adults who have absolutely no respect for the unofficial uniforms of adult life. I'm a fan of expressing your own style but I think it should be within the realm of what is appropriate for the particular setting and many have failed to learn that in their lives as children and young adults. 

So what if the same restrictions were placed upon adults? I could say the same in tems of adults having no respect for unofficial uniforms, or, I assume you mean, dressing inappropriately.
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#21 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 03:28 AM
 
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I have never been fond of them because when I was little I had to wear them!!

 

I was so upset (and this was in early primary grades) that I couldn't wear what I wanted to, and that even my shoes and socks were chosen for me!
 


 
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#22 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 04:32 AM
 
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Adults are required to wear uniforms depending upon work environment.  Freedom of expression is not quelled by dress for school. And if it is the problem is not what they're wearing to school.  In many areas it's very helpful for kids and parents and if the people buying the clothes (parents) are for it, then so be it.

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#23 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 05:55 AM
 
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Freedom of expression is not quelled by dress for school

I agree. I come from a family of artists and I very much think that fashion is an art form BUT girls in our culture (US) are pushed into boxes where fashion, first of all, is often NOT a form of creative expression but one of conformity and, also, it becomes this limiting thing where they feel that fashion is a primary outlet for expression. 

 

For me, the uniform thing isn't thing isn't ideal but is an acceptable solution to several problems that kids face in public schools. 

 

And, yes, I do think it makes the home life easier. 


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#24 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 06:13 AM
 
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Our local charter schools all use uniforms, and my kids have always been in charters.  They shirts are $16 freaking dollars and pants are upwards of $20. 

I do think it's pretty outrageous that a public school would contract specific suppliers and make it nearly impossible for parent's to shop around for second-hand or discount prices.  I know we have a few specialty charters in our district that do this but most of our public schools (including many charters) do a more general "blue shirt/khaki pants" system. 


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#25 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 06:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

I agree. I come from a family of artists and I very much think that fashion is an art form BUT girls in our culture (US) are pushed into boxes where fashion, first of all, is often NOT a form of creative expression but one of conformity and, also, it becomes this limiting thing where they feel that fashion is a primary outlet for expression. 

 

For me, the uniform thing isn't thing isn't ideal but is an acceptable solution to several problems that kids face in public schools. 

 

And, yes, I do think it makes the home life easier. 

yeahthat.gif  This expresses my experience beautifully.  Also, in my experience, not being able to afford brand-new made it extremely difficult to conform, since by the time clothes made their way to thrift stores they were no longer the current fashion.  And fashion (whether for self-expression, or for conformity) is not a universal skill.  I would be in favour of uniforms in public school, I think they solve more problems than they create.

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#26 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 09:06 AM
 
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I'm all about school uniforms, have been since I was a student. Of course there's no way to totally eliminate "in" and "out" groups. But uniforms do help. Plus, I am lazy - I would love to not think about what I wear every day. And as a former teacher, I would have LOVED a teacher uniform for the same reason!

 

I do agree that schools where you have to buy from only one specific vendor (like a local Catholic school, where a single piece of clothing is often $30-$40!) are creating more problems for families. I like the idea of khaki bottoms, and a specific color (or colors) of top.


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#27 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 01:53 PM
 
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I see both sides, and since I'm in an inbetween stage of life (not that far out of high school at 8 years after grad & preg with first child), I'm torn between the two. As someone who was somewhat recently through high school, I knee-jerk reacted with heck no! Yeah, it was tough trying to figure out what to wear to fit in (although somewhat easier in the two rural, small northern Wisconsin schools I attended versus the bigger city schools I'm sure), and we could not afford the latest and greatest fashions nor always get a whole new wardrobe for the new year. I often was wearing my cousin's hand-me-downs or thrift shop/garage sale finds, and I rarely got name-brand stuff. Forget new name-brand stuff! However, I felt like at least I could somewhat express my style and gravitate towards the groups that were most like me (and I was one that drifted between several groups in high school--slackers, nerdy braniacks, etc.). With my very shy & quiet personality, I think I would have had an even harder time finding friends when I wouldn't have had that visual ability to pick which group to hang around the edges until they included me. Granted, maybe I would have had a larger group of friends had I been forced to interact with whoever I was with at the time, but I fear that personalities (the queen-bee & quarterback stereotypes) would win out and be spotlighted because they stand out so much more than those who don't have a voice of their own yet, especially in a sea of sameness.

 

On the other hand, I can so see the advantages to saving money by limiting what is acceptable to wear. If anything, I like the idea of the strict dress code where khakis or dark pants plus a polo or buttond-down type shirt of any color is required rather than an official logo-d uniform.

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#28 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 04:09 PM
 
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I just really don't like the idea of mandatory uniforms because I think they unnecessarily limit a child's freedom of expression. I think many people have certain clothes that they feel more comfortable in — more themselves in — and other clothes that they feel out of place in. For me, I hate to dress up. I can do it when the occasion calls for it, but I never enjoy it. I know other people who can't dress down. They feel out of sorts in flip-flops or in a shirt w/o a collar. My kids are very sensitive, especially one of them, and I just think they would be really very unnecessarily  uncomfortable in uniforms. They've been adamantly picking out their own clothes since 18 months old and uniforms would be so uncool for them. I would never pick a school that had uniforms. That would be a bigger deal breaker than most curriculum choices. 

 

 

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I agree. I come from a family of artists and I very much think that fashion is an art form BUT girls in our culture (US) are pushed into boxes where fashion, first of all, is often NOT a form of creative expression but one of conformity and, also, it becomes this limiting thing where they feel that fashion is a primary outlet for expression. 

 

 

This is totally not my experience or my girls' experience at all. The conformity thing is a total non-issue in my house. My kids hate brand names. They'd rather wear things that don't cost a lot and aren't whatever is popular. They also hate Justin Bieber and One Direction (which we call One Dimension around our house) and McDonald's. They know about Abercrombie's size discrimination and even though they're very slim they don't want to have anything to do with those brands. They don't have trouble fitting in, especially my younger dd who seems to get along with anyone she wants to. My older one is an artist/geek and waves her geek flag proudly. I would never do uniforms for them if I had another choice, which I do, so I won't.


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#29 of 140 Old 08-12-2013, 07:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

I agree. I come from a family of artists and I very much think that fashion is an art form BUT girls in our culture (US) are pushed into boxes where fashion, first of all, is often NOT a form of creative expression but one of conformity and, also, it becomes this limiting thing where they feel that fashion is a primary outlet for expression. 

 

For me, the uniform thing isn't thing isn't ideal but is an acceptable solution to several problems that kids face in public schools. 

 

And, yes, I do think it makes the home life easier. 

 

That is not what I noticed with my dd's clothing decisions at all nor is it something I see in the clothing decisions of her friends, they all wear different clothes that mostly don't conform to anything.  It is very common for a child in our area to be dressed in "church" clothes at school one day then come the next day looking like their closet threw up on them and the next like a hippy.  Clothing seems to be chosen for comfort and personal pleasure not for conformity, which makes it a lot like the way clothing is chosen in the adult world.  The children I know also don't seem limited in creativity in other ways at all. 

 

Maybe this is a regional thing though.  We live in an area where independence and non-conformism but I would imagine that this could be very different in an area where people tend to worry a lot about conformity in general. 

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#30 of 140 Old 08-13-2013, 03:14 AM
 
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I live and teach in Australia and all the kids wear uniforms.  Some schools have flashier, stricter uniform rules than others, but most of my students prefer it.  They don't have to worry about what to wear each day and their only complaint is the shoes aren't really all that comfortable.  They also have a PE uniform if they have anything outdoor-related that day (including food tech or trade classes).  I also agree with all the other reasons already posted.  I would be surprised if it happened it the US because of the odd sense of "freedoms" people seem to have sometimes.......

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