In some countries like Australia and Ireland, many public schools require uniforms along with private schools. This tends to be especially accommodating to poor families who may benefit from not having to buy as many clothes for their children, but there are qualities I’ve experienced beyond affordability that encourage the implementation of school uniforms.
I grew up attending private schools that required uniforms from as young as preschool all the way until high school. If you yourself didn’t grow up wearing a uniform, there’s a chance you know someone who did, and there’s also a chance that they cringe at the memory of having to wear them.
I’m not exactly the most fashion forward person out there, but I’d still consider myself the type of person who enjoys expressing myself through my outfits. However, I’d also consider myself to be the type of person who enjoys not worrying about what I look like, not planning out my outfits every day and being relieved of possibly misjudging someone by their outfit.
If there’s anything that I truly haven’t gotten used to about college it’s picking out my outfits every day, and it’s gotten to a point where I’ve almost developed my own uniform for myself—during the winter months I almost always opt for jeans and a sweater or flannel. With my crazy schedule, putting thought into my outfits is the last thing I want to worry about.
There’s also a level playing field of gender equality and professionalism that comes with most (but not all) dress codes. It’s a fact of life that the professional world, more often than not, requires some conservatism in how you dress, and this applies to all genders. For example, my high school required everyone—girls and guys alike—to wear khaki pants and a polo, which meant there was no chance to sexualize anyone for what they were wearing.
Another but more important thing that I truly didn’t understand until later in high school was that you really take for granted how you make friends with people when everyone wears a uniform. When you can’t judge someone by what they’re wearing, whether it’s the brands they can afford or their style overall, you’re forced to use other qualities to figure out who they are. You don’t know until you start talking to them what their taste in music is, what their personality is like or what kind of friend they are. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is one of those inherent lessons we’re taught since we were little, and creating an environment that enables us to avoid judging each other by our clothes can do wonders for any adolescent’s self esteem.