School Uniforms in the United States

Most schools in the United States do not require uniforms, but instead enforce a standardized dress code of what types of clothing are appropriate for students to wear to school. Such dress codes vary from school to school, but are normally based on broader policies set by the county's elected school board. Private schools (schools requiring tuition and formal acceptance in order to attend) and other specialized schools are typically the only schools to require uniforms of the school administration's choosing.

A study conducted in 2000 found that only 23% of public, private, and sectarian schools had any sort of uniform policy in the United States at or before 2000. Over the past decade, more public schools, specifically those in urban areas, have instituted stricter dress codes; roughly half the public schools in the United States have these more limiting dress codes.

The schools that do require uniforms, or a more common standard dress code in towns and suburbs, tend to be more casual than those in Britain or other commonwealth nations. School uniforms and dress codes are almost universally standard, rather than representing the school or the student body. Typically, students will wear collared, buttoned shirts, with a tie for boys and a tie for girls, worn with khaki trousers, and a belt, depending on the age of the school's student body. Skirts of a modest length are occasionally an option for girls.

For instance, red, white or blue polo shirts, with a logo, with navy or khaki bottoms and a belt, was the successful uniform policy imposed at Palmer Elementary School in Houston, Texas. Typically, inner-city schools have polo shirts and trousers for the primary- and junior-high-school years, and then move up to buttoned shirts, usually some form of tie, and dress trousers with a belt or a skirt. Schools in areas with less populations such as suburbs tend to keep polo shirts through the student's secondary school years, or have a standardised dress code. Dress codes vary widely among private schools, although a Catholic school uniform tends to keep the shirt and tie.

As of August 2013, almost one fifth of all American schools require their students to wear uniforms (Flam). This twenty percent of schools requiring uniforms is six percent higher than it was in the year 2003, the U.S. Department of Education reports. The uniform requirement also is more common in lower socio-economic schools, where more than three-fourths of the school's student population receives free or reduced lunch ("Fast"). Forty-seven percent of these low income schools require uniforms, while only about six percent of high socio-economic schools require uniforms ("Fast"). There are many factors that come into play when a school is deciding whether or not to require uniforms for their students, yet more and more schools turn to uniforms each year.