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What is inappropriate to wear in school?

School dress codes aim to create a learning environment that is free from distractions and sets students up for success. While specific policies vary between schools, there are some common guidelines around what is generally considered inappropriate attire in an academic setting.

Revealing and provocative clothing

Clothes that are too revealing or provocative are often prohibited in school dress codes. This includes:

  • Crop tops that expose the midriff
  • Low cut tops that show cleavage
  • Short shorts or skirts with high hemlines (often shorter than mid-thigh length)
  • See-through or mesh garments
  • Plunging necklines
  • Pants or skirts with high slits or cut outs

The rationale is that these types of outfits can be distracting or make others uncomfortable in an academic environment. Schools want students to focus on learning rather than attracting attention for provocative attire.

Clothing with inappropriate images or messages

Most schools prohibit clothing depicting or advocating:

  • Drug, alcohol, or tobacco use
  • Gangs or gang affiliation
  • Violence, weapons, or crime
  • Sexually suggestive content
  • Hate speech or profanity

These types of images or messages go against the educational mission of schools and can even pose safety risks. Students should steer clear of graphic tees or accessories with offensive language or imagery.

Head coverings and face paint

Many schools ban wearing hats, hoods, bandanas, or other head coverings indoors. Some reasons include:

  • Head coverings can conceal identity or inappropriate items
  • Hats are seen as too casual for the learning environment
  • Bandanas may denote gang affiliation

Face paint, such as Gothic makeup or face paint in school colors during spirit weeks, is also commonly prohibited. Schools want to easily identify students on campus.

Baggy or sagging pants

Pants that sag below the waist to expose undergarments are considered indecent and unsafe. Baggy pants that drag on the ground can also pose tripping hazards. Schools require pants to be worn at the waist and prohibit excessive sagging.

Pajamas and slippers

Sleepwear like pajama pants, slippers, and bathrobes are forbidden in most school dress codes. Such attire is seen as too casual and not appropriate for the learning environment, where students should present themselves professionally.

Coats and heavy jackets indoors

Schools often prohibit wearing coats and heavy jackets in the classroom. Reasons for this may include:

  • Bulky outerwear can conceal contraband
  • Coats and jackets take up space in classrooms and lockers
  • Classroom temperatures are sufficiently regulated without heavy layers

Light sweaters and sweatshirts are usually allowed if students are cold.

Explicit or vulgar language

Clothing featuring swear words, slurs, or other offensive language is prohibited at most schools. Vulgar language goes against codes of conduct and can be emotionally harmful to other students. Any clothing with explicit language should be avoided.

Bare feet

Going barefoot on campus is considered a health and safety issue. Shoes must be worn at all times, except in locker rooms or at poolside. Reasons shoes are required include:

  • Prevent injuries from broken glass or debris
  • Protect feet from chemicals in science labs or art rooms
  • Maintain hygienic conditions

Any footwear with hard soles is acceptable, including athletic shoes, sandals, loafers, etc.

Sunglasses indoors

Sunglasses must be removed when entering school buildings. Reasons include:

  • Maintaining eye contact and engagement with teachers and peers
  • Ensuring students stay awake and attentive in class
  • Clear identification and security

Transition lenses that activate indoors are also prohibited. Exceptions may be made for medical reasons with proper documentation.

Spiked accessories and chains

Jewelry or accessories with spikes or sharp edges are commonly banned to prevent injuries. Chains on wallets or pants could also be used dangerously. Any spiked collars, bracelets, heavy chained wallets, or other accessories deemed unsafe are not allowed.

Costumes and masks

Full costumes like those worn on Halloween are inappropriate during regular school days. Masks that cover the face are also prohibited, with exceptions for medical masks as needed. Schools want to be able to identify students on campus for safety reasons.

Gang symbols and colors

Attire representing gang affiliation is strictly prohibited. This may include:

  • Bandanas or other accessories in gang-related colors
  • Professional sports jerseys or apparel representing local gangs
  • Jewelry or clothing with gang names, symbols, or insignia

Schools aim to keep gang activity and influence off campus for students’ safety.

Violations of dress code policies

When dress code policies are violated, typical consequences may include:

  • Verbal warning and order to correct violation (change clothes, remove item, etc.)
  • Parent notification
  • Temporary removal from class until violation is addressed
  • Detention or in-school suspension for repeated violations

Serious or habitual violations could potentially lead to disciplinary action like suspension or expulsion if other measures fail to correct the behavior.


School dress codes aim to create an effective, respectful learning environment for all students. While personal style is important, clothing that is overly revealing, advocates illegal or hateful activity, conceals identity, or poses safety risks is considered inappropriate attire for school. By understanding and following school guidelines, students can express themselves through fashion while still dressing appropriately for the academic setting.