On the first day of school, many students try to put their best fashion foot forward. On the other foot, though, school administrators have to ensure those same students are wearing appropriate outfits for the classroom.
However, choosing a trendy outfit that abides to the dress code may not be as difficult this school year. In fact, Hillary Harper, director of marketing for Dress Up boutiques, explains fall trends are more inline with dress codes this year than in previous ones.
“This is the perfect time for dress codes in fashion because a lot of the hemlines are longer, and layering cardigans over tank tops is really popular,” Harper said. “It’s also really trendy to pair anything with an awesome pair of denim, from a T-shirt to a tunic top.”
For most Hall County schools, specific rules are spelled out for hemlines, straps and slogans.
C.W. Davis Middle School Principal Eddie Millwood said at the middle school level, skirts and shorts must be a specific length, as well as certain tops paired with cotton leggings or yoga pants.
“Shorts and skirts can be no shorter than six inches from the middle of the knee,” Millwood said. “If a student wears leggings or tights, the top or dress must be long enough to cover that length as well.”
Male and female students cannot wear tank tops or sleeveless shirts. Harper said one of fall’s biggest trends covers those bases.
“I think honestly the biggest thing when we are going to look and buy, the first direction we are going is putting a lot into layering and basics,” Harper said.
“It’s about finding the perfect balance of the super comfy, casual cute tee that can be dressed up or down or put on with a cardigan,” Harper said. “The Piko top was huge last year, and the Emma top is a huge hit this year.”
Both tops offer longer sleeves and a longer hemline but are comfortable enough to wear throughout the school day. Harper noted said cardigans are a popular layering item to cover shoulders and comply with dress codes.
She added some dresses are becoming more appropriate for schoolwear.
“There are a lot of short-sleeved swing-style dresses with a longer hemline that look great with a pair of flats or canvas sneakers,” Harper said.
Dresses in the school system must follow the six-inches rule.
Students are encouraged to dress nicely in the classroom, but the dress code prevents them from “rolling out of bed” and coming to school, Millwood said.
“They are not allowed to wear pajamas or pajama pants,” Millwood said. “And for boys, pants must be worn at the waist.”
The same philosophy applies to girls Harper works with. The company encourages comfort and fashion at the same time.
“Everyone, when they are getting ready to go to class, they want something they will be comfortable in throughout the day but still be fashion-forward,” Harper said. “We encourage girls to think about what they wear when they get up in the morning.”
Harper explained versatility is a huge trend for fall, and the popular soft tees can be dressed up or down by being worn with a variety of options for different looks.
“A T-shirt is fine, but there are some dressier options that you can even throw a necklace on with or tuck into a longer maxi skirt,” Harper said. “There are a lot of those transition pieces.”
Some pieces can even transition into work or extra curriculars, as some activities have an additional dress code.
“If a student has P.E., it’s important that he or she has on the appropriate attire,” Millwood said. Some T-shirt trends can go from class to court with little adjustment.
When in doubt, Harper emphasized a nice T-shirt and jeans are a fail-safe.
“It’s a light layer up top, but you still have sleeves, and it’s casual and comfortable,” she said.
For boys, a T-shirt and khaki pants are the easy route, but fall trends for men can make students more fashion-oriented.
“Guys, what’s really cool is they have a more timeless style,” Harper said. “Their trends are pretty consistent. Some things we are seeing (are) T-shirts and khakis, but if they want to be more fashion-forward, plaid is huge for fall. A plaid button down and some denim is a great choice.”
Millwood said the goal of the dress code is to prevent distractions from learning. He feels the dress code is lenient enough to allow for fashion statements.
“I think it’s liberal enough that students can express themselves while still being age appropriate and classroom appropriate,” he said.