Sample School Dress Codes

After reading CJ’s last post, a lot of you requested to see the dress code CJ worked on with his school and district. It follows. I also included some sample dress codes that do a good job of leaving gender out of getting dressed for school in the morning.

All dress codes are from our home state of California and I included dress codes only from public schools. (Private schools can do their own thing with dress codes [and other things] if they don’t receive federal funding, so CJ and I try not to concern ourselves with private school dress codes that aren’t in compliance with state and federal laws. Because if we did concern ourselves with those dress codes we would go crazy.)

Disclaimer: CJ and I are not experts on school dress codes (although we’ve reviewed more than the average person). I reached out to the experts at Welcoming Schools for their favorite school dress codes and they like some of the practices from these two policies: Oregon NOW  and Roanoke County Public Schools. If you only review two dress codes from this post, review the two recommended by Welcoming Schools. I’ve included Roanoke’s dress code in full below. Oregon NOW’s is longer, so you’ll have to click here to read it.

If you know of an awesome dress code, please leave a link in the comments so it can be a resource to those who need it.

6th grade back-to-school look.

Sample Elementary School Dress Code

We have found that there is a correlation between a student’s behavior and attitude, and his/her manner of dress. There is a wide range of available clothing styles that reflect a positive attitude and appearance. We ask that students attending (our school) wear clothing that is comfortable, clean, and appropriate for an elementary school. Because our instructional program includes active play, students must wear clothing that allows them to run and jump, including closed-toed shoes. Clothing and other items our students wear must not disrupt the educational process, create safety concerns, nor create any distraction. All popular fashions may not be appropriate for an elementary school.

Inappropriate dress includes but is not limited to:

  • Clothing that does not fit reasonably
  • Clothing with logos, slogans, words, or pictures promoting or depicting alcohol, tobacco, drugs, vandalism, bigotry, violence, sexual connotations, or profanity. This includes clothing with phrases or pictures that have double meanings.
  • Clothing that is revealing or immodest or tops that expose bare midriff or undergarments. Examples include halter tops, bathing suits, sports bras, tube tops, razor back tops, spaghetti straps, and low cut tops.
  • Shorts, skirts, and dresses must be long enough that they reach the same point on the thigh as the bottom of a student’s closed fist when the arm is extended and resting on the thigh.
  • Earrings, chains, jewelry that dangles and could be dangerous when playing
  • Any make-up or adornment that causes a distraction in the classroom or on the playground
  • Hair that is distracting or extreme
  • Shoes with open toes or excessive heels
  • Hats worn indoors or incorrectly

School personnel reserve the right to determine the appropriateness of hair, clothing, and make-up. With the support and cooperation of our students, parents, and staff, (our school) will be a positive and productive learning environment.

5th grade back-to-school look.

Sample Middle School/High School Dress Code

Appropriate dress and personal appearance at (school) and at school-related activities shall not include any clothing, attire or accessory that by its appearance, arrangement, trademark, fit, or any other attribute, is unsafe; disruptive; unhealthful; obscene; profane; ethnically, racially or sexually degrading; libelous or slanderous; exposing undergarments; pro-vocative or revealing; advocating unlawful behavior or illegal substances; or suggesting or promoting any affiliation with street gangs or other groups that commit unlawful acts.

If a student is found to be in violation of the dress code, a (school-issued) loaner article of clothing will be issued in order for the student to continue to attend classes and school activities. Students are required to return the cleaned clothing to an Administrator. A $10.00 fee will be charged for unreturned shirts.

Current examples of inappropriate dress include but are not limited to the following clothing, attire, apparel and accessories:


  • No shoes
  • Socks only
  • Slippers
  • Oversized pants/shorts (your pants/shorts must be able to stay up unaided by a belt as you walk across the room)

Unhealthy and Advocating Unlawful Behavior or Illegal Substances….

  • Displaying references to illegal or controlled substances (Including tobacco, alcoholic beverages, marijuana, etc.).

Unsafe and Suggesting or Promoting Street Gang Affiliation or Other Groups Committing Unlawful Acts….

  • Any combination of clothing which, upon guidance from law enforcement agencies, is considered gang-related (these may change—i.e., bandanas, hair nets, metal belt buckles with gang-style monograms, dangling belts or chain accessories, slippers).

Disruptive, Provocation or Revealing….

  • Clothing considered undergarments
  • Clothing exposing undergarments
  • Clothing exposing excessive midriff, upper torso, etc.
  • Halter tops/bandeaus (exposing front or back)
  • Swim wear
  • Low-cut pants, shorts or skirts
  • Short skirts or shorts (must be at least as long as a “fist’s length” when arms are hung naturally at your side)
  • Disrespectful logos or negative statements targeting others

4th grade back-to-school look.

Sample School District Dress Code #1 (Roanoke County Public Schools: Recommended by Welcoming Schools)

Roanoke County Public Schools respects students’ rights to express themselves in the way they dress.  All students who attend Roanoke County Public Schools are also expected to respect the school community by dressing appropriately for a K-12 educational environment.  Student attire should facilitate participation in learning as well as the health and safety of students and the adults that supervise them.  This policy is intended to provide guidance for students, staff, and parents.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Clothing must cover areas from one armpit across to the other armpit, down to approximately 3 to 4 inches in length on the upper thighs (see images below).  Tops must have shoulder straps.  Rips or tears in clothing should be lower than the 3 to 4 inches in length.
  • Shoes must be worn at all times and should be safe for the school environment (pajamas, bedroom shoes or slippers shall not be worn, except for school activities approved by the principal).
  • See-through or mesh garments must not be worn without appropriate coverage underneath that meet the minimum requirements of the dress code.
  • Headgear including hats, hoodies, and caps are not allowed unless permitted for religious, medical, or other reason by school administration.
  • Specialized courses may require specialized attire, such as sports uniforms or safety gear.

Additional Requirements:

  • Clothing may not depict, imply, advertise, or advocate illegal, violent, or lewd conduct, weapons, or the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other controlled substances.
  • Clothing may not depict or imply pornography, nudity, or sexual acts.
  • Clothing may not display or imply vulgar, discriminatory, or obscene language or images.
  • Clothing may not state, imply, or depict hate speech/imagery targeting groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, or any other protected classification.
  • Sunglasses may not be worn inside the building.
  • Clothing and accessories that endanger student or staff safety may not be worn.
  • Apparel, jewelry, accessories, tattoos, or manner of grooming that, by virtue of its color, arrangement, trademark or any other attribute, denotes membership in a gang that advocates illegal or disruptive behavior is prohibited.

The administration at each school reserves the right to determine what constitutes appropriate dress.  Students who do not adhere to these guidelines will not be allowed to attend class.  Parents will be called if appropriate clothing is not available or the student refuses dress-code appropriate clothing.

3rd grade back-to-school look.

Sample School District Dress Code #2

Schools may adopt dress codes that are reasonably related to the health and safety of students. School dress codes and uniform policies must be implemented in a manner consistent with the rights set forth in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Section 2 of Article 1 of the California Constitution. The California legislature has determined that gang apparel is hazardous to the health and safety of the school environment, and therefore, the wearing of such apparel may be restricted. All dress codes must be gender neutral; students cannot be disciplined for or prevented from wearing attire that is commonly associated with the other gender.

All students shall be required to show proper attention to personal cleanliness, health, neatness, safety, and suitability of clothing and appearance for school activities. In every case the dress and grooming of the student shall be clean and shall not:

  • Cause actual distraction from or disturbance in any school activity or actually interfere with the participation of a student in any school activity;
  • Create a hazard to the safety of him/herself or others;
  • Create a health hazard.

Consistent with the above guidelines, hair, sideburns, mustaches, and beards may be worn at any length or style. Clothing may be of any fashion, style, or design, as determined by the student and his or her parents.

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About raisingmyrainbow is a blog about the adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son.
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7 Responses to Sample School Dress Codes

  1. Pingback: Blog Profiles: LGBTQ+ Parenting Blogs | Beyond Bylines

  2. joanna Brailsford says:

    Hi CJ,

    Please never stop your advocating. It is needed everywhere. You are the rock in the middle that creates the waves the will affect the entire pond.

    Thank you, Joanna Brailsford from Canada

  3. Sarah says:

    I live in Germany (Berlin), where we have no dress codes at all (at least I don’t know of any) but this was an interesting read. Since I visited Great Britain as a teenager I quite liked the idea of a school uniform. It seemed so easy.
    In my time at school, I liked choosing my outfit for the day because I was a very fashionable kid who loved to express itself trough clothing. I often got comments on my outfits (not always nice ones) but in the end I was happy to wear what I want.
    The only restriction we had was a “no jewelry” policy at sports, for safety reasons.

    Thanks a lot for your post!

    Greetings, Sarah

  4. Hufflestitch says:

    I find this interesting. In Australia, 99% of schools require a uniform. Private school uniforms are usually more formal and public school uniforms are just a polo shirt and shorts or skirt in the requisite school colours. The school near me has red shirts with the school logo on them, black shorts or skirt. Our “dress” codes usually have stuff about hair and jewelry but often that is a safety thing (dangly earrings during play etc)

  5. Anonypilgrim says:

    I thought the Oregon NOW dress code was fantastic. I feel like these others police the body too much. That being said, you’re both doing a great job. Keep it up!

  6. nwheremn1965 says:

    Very cool anybody should be able to work with that

  7. Jill says:

    Here’s a crazy idea: no dress code.

    My son’s school has no dress code. Never has. A student wore a raincoat to school for two weeks when he was in elementary school . . . nobody even blinked. Now I will admit his school is private and so they can in fact, as you note, do their own thing. But their own thing is to basically not regulate what people wear and it is worked out just fine all the way through senior year of high school.

    It probably helps that their central tenet of existence is respect for others so you don’t have people wearing purposely hurtful things or things that denigrate others. But that’s really a community standard not a dress code.

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