Lands’ End School Uniforms and National Association of Elementary School Principals
2013 State of School Uniforms Survey Report

As a follow-up to the survey of principals conducted in 2000, Lands’ End School Uniform in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) surveyed 517 school principals and other school leaders from coast to coast regarding school uniform behavior at their respective schools. The current survey revealed uniforms or a formal dress code policy in public schools are on the rise as nearly half (49 percent) have a policy in place or have plans to implement one – more than double from 2000 (21 percent).

Then and Now:
A uniform policy has proven to withstand the test of time as many survey respondents stated their uniform or formal dress code policy has been in place for 20 years or more (12 percent). Overall, eight out of 10 (85 percent) plan to continue the uniform policy as is in the upcoming school year.

When it comes to school style, 90 percent of school leaders prefer to keep it casual, with polos and chinos, rather than dress casual (oxford dress shirts, blazers, plaids, skirts, ties, and/or chino pants) for their school uniforms. Only 55 percent of school leaders surveyed in 2000 held a casual uniform policy.

Why School Uniforms:
The continued growth of school uniforms or formal dress code policies in public schools may be due to students who struggle with wanting to wear the latest clothing styles in order to fit in. Unfortunately, many do not have the means to do so and may fall victim to peer pressure or bullying. In fact, surveyed school leaders with a school uniform or formal dress code policy in place believe their current policy has made a significant, positive impact on peer pressure (86 percent) and bullying (64 percent).

Positivity also prevailed in the following categories:
85% classroom discipline
83% image in the community
79% student safety
77% school pride/spirit
64% student achievement
44% attendance

Other areas where school leaders who were surveyed believe parents benefit from having a school uniform or formal dress code policy in place include:
• Eliminate wardrobe battles with kids (94 percent)
• Easier to get kids ready in the morning (92 percent)
• Time saving in the morning (93 percent)
• Easier to shop for school clothes (90 percent)
• More cost-effective than regular apparel (86 percent)

School Uniforms 101:
Parents appreciate the opportunity to have a say in some aspect of their child’s school uniform purchases. In fact, the majority of school leaders surveyed (66 percent) said when it comes to purchasing school uniforms they are allowing parents to shop at a retailer of their choice – as long as they follow the formal dress code guidelines (i.e. navy blue polo and khaki pants).


Speaking of guidelines, following are several uniform policy standouts:
• Channeling ChinosSeventy-six percent of school leaders said chinos best describe the pant choice their students wear as part of the school uniform or formal dress code policy.
• Tried and True – The classic navy polo is the go-to color of choice for 38 percent of school leaders when requiring students to wear polos as part of their school uniform or formal dress code policy. White is the runner up at 23 percent and red rolls in at third place (15 percent).
• Must Match – More than half (58 percent) of school leaders revealed that the color of their school uniforms represent their school colors.

Additional Survey Findings Include:
Taking Responsibility – Seventy-seven percent of school leaders at schools with a current uniform or formal dress code policy were most responsible for initiating the idea to go to uniforms, followed by parents (23 percent). When it came to a particular school official implementing the uniform policy, 51 percent of principals stepped up to the plate as the key decision makers.

Parents Play a Part – More than half (51 percent) of parents were consulted before the school adopted a school uniform or formal dress code policy. An overwhelming 90 percent of parents currently support the formal dress code policy.

Insisting Individuality – When it comes to implementing a school uniform policy, well over half (60 percent) of respondents said it is an individual school policy, while 40 percent implement the policy district-wide.

Making it Mandatory – According to the survey, 87 percent of school uniforms or formal dress code policies are mandatory. Of the voluntary policies, an underwhelming 13 percent, close to half (44 percent) of students comply with the voluntary policy rules

Public Schools Rule – Of the school leaders surveyed with a current school uniform or formal dress code policy in place, an overwhelming 88 percent represented public schools from a cross-section of rural, suburban and urban communities – with a student enrolment typically ranging from 401-700.

The City and Suburbs Soar – Eighty-seven percent of school leaders at schools
with a uniform or formal dress code policy, are in the city and suburbs. When reviewing those surveyed that do not have school uniforms, the majority falls in rural areas (42 percent).

Potential Policy – For school leaders that have not passed a uniform or formal dress code policy, 30 percent felt it is due to a lack of parental support. However, 11 percent said the potential policy was not initiated adequately – this could be a key factor as to why many parents are not on board.

Going Without – Sixty-one percent of school leaders surveyed do not have a school uniform or formal dress code policy in place. The survey reveals several reasons why:

  • Thirty-eight percent of school leaders say that implementing a school uniform policy has not come up as an option.
  • Thirty-one percent feel their current dress code is sufficient.
  • Twenty-two percent felt parents would be/have been resistant to a policy.
  • Only eight percent said the cost of uniforms is prohibitive.
Editor’s Note: 517 U.S. school leaders participated in the Lands’ End School Uniform and NAESP State of School Uniforms survey. The survey was fielded via Survey Monkey from May 31, 2013 to June 17, 2013.