The clothing a student wears every day is a part of their development and identity as a person.
The pressures of fitting in by wearing certain clothes can be lowered with wearing required uniforms in grade school, but expression through dress is important for transitioning into adulthood, said Kim Tranell, editor of Scholastic magazine Choices.
Having students wear uniforms in grade school helps equalize social status.
“We know that adolescence is prime time for developing identity,” Tranell said. "The way that teenagers do that is they try on different identities."
Wearing uniforms can benefit students in letting them focus on academics without distractions, she said. But the uniformity of clothing does not always establish positive outcomes.
“School uniforms sort of sterilize the school environment in a way that students aren’t learning how to deal with an unlevel social playing field,” Tranell said.
Learning how to dress up is important for transitioning into the adult life, she said.
Accounting graduate Prasad Thotapalli wore uniforms until his last year of high school. Although clothing isn’t important to him for self-expression, he understands other students who have to express themselves, he said.
He said wearing comfortable clothes and having choice was fun as he transitioned to the freedom of choice in a college environment. Initially, he started to wear flashier and colorful clothing when the restrictions were gone, but since has gone to more modest outfits.
“I definitely believe that if you let people wear whatever they feel like, they feel much more true to themselves and practical in nature,” Thotapalli said.
Computer science junior Maxx Begole said he disliked wearing a uniform in elementary school. Going from a private to public school made him feel more shy because he had to represent himself on his own while transitioning to a bigger environment, he said.
“You can kind of tell what kind of person they are just by how they dress,” Begole said.
Software engineering freshman Mohammad Mohammad said clothing choice is important for expression and how people perceive each other in everyday encounters. Students can make their own choices as they gain maturity and judgment with age, he said.
“I just wear it the way I want to look: good, fresh, classy,” Mohammad said.