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The Denim Divide: A Dress Code Dilemma

Updated: Jul 4

In the world of educational attire, one debate stands out: should teachers or administrators be allowed to wear jeans? This article explores both sides of the argument, weighing the comfort and relatability of denim against the need for professional appearance and decorum. Join us as we dig into the pros and cons of jeans in the classroom and invite you to share your thoughts on the Denim Divide!


We've got two opposing perspectives from John Hinds and Terri Eichholz. Both have equal years of experience in education, while John was an administrator for 13 of those years and Terri was in the classroom for all 29. Can you tell who wrote each opinion? And, do you want to weigh in? Fill out the poll or comment below!



many pairs of jeans hanging in a row

Jeans - Not for Me!

Jeans – No Big Deal

Pre-COVID jeans were something that every teacher wanted to wear. It was a treat on Fridays or one of those days that you just wanted to feel more comfortable at work. Post-COVID jeans are now the daily attire….and I don’t like either!


Pull up your LinkedIn, Facebook, X, really any social media feed. Find a picture that shows a teacher posting something. Are they wearing jeans? Probably. Do the jeans have holes in them? There’s a 50/50 chance. Do the jeans look professional? My answer is no.


I get wanting to feel comfortable at work. I don’t get teachers wanting to wear jeans and expecting to be treated like professionals. To me, professionals don’t wear jeans. Call me old fashioned. I just don’t think a teacher looks professional in jeans.


But this is not my biggest beef with jeans. I’m seeing more and more that administrators are wearing jeans….daily. This bothers me a lot. The only time I think it is acceptable for an administrator to wear jeans is if he/she is cooking out for the staff. That situation calls for jeans, boots, and a t-shirt. Outside of that scenario (and maybe a field trip to a farm or theme park) I do not believe an administrator should go near jeans.


In a time when public education is being attacked from all sides, I feel like we should be at our absolute best. Our decisions should be well thought out. Our communications should be clear and regular. Our dress should be professional.


I have always thought that, as educators, we are working on two fronts: performance and perception. We must show that our students are learning and being prepared for their future (performance) and we must show that we know what we are doing and walk the walk (perception). I believe that wearing jeans affects the perception aspect of this.



Honestly, I prefer not to wear jeans most days, but that’s just because I don’t personally find them all that comfortable. But it doesn’t bother me when other people wear them.. Living in Texas, I’ve gotten used to seeing diverse forms of attire in grocery stores, expensive restaurants, and concerts at the Majestic Theater. The dress code tends to be, “whatever,” and I’m good with that.


When it comes to educators wearing jeans, I don’t have a problem with that either. While I do feel that “looking professional” can make a difference in the way people perceive your ability to do your job, I think the concept of professional clothing has changed dramatically over the years, especially for women. As cultural expectations change, I think that it’s becoming more difficult to define what fashion is appropriate for any workplace. And I’m okay with that. In my opinion, what someone wears to their job doesn’t matter as long as it is safe and does not interfere with their performance.


I know professionals in other jobs who wear jeans, especially if their type of work has any kind of physical demand, and if you’ve watched a teacher with kindergarten students or seen an administrator trying to fetch a runaway to safety, you know that education has these moments. Also, as we all know, jeans come in many colors and styles, so I don’t think we should include all denim material in the same category. If someone has holes or ragged hems on their suit pants, would those still be considered more professional than a tailored pair of black jeans?


During a time when this profession is becoming more and more untenable, I’d rather not spend my time policing anyone’s taste in fashion. If a staff member can connect with parents and students while doing a great job, I don’t think their appearance should be questioned. Unless someone looks disheveled or has clothing that’s in obvious disrepair that might indicate mental health issues or financial problems, I think we should direct our attention toward other priorities. In my opinion, what someone wears to their job doesn’t matter as long as it is safe and does not interfere with their performance.


What's Your Vote?

  • 0%Jeans - Not for Me! (And I think John wrote it!)

  • 0%Jeans - Not for Me! (And I think Terri wrote it!)

  • 0%Jeans - No Big Deal (And I think John wrote it!)

  • 0%Jeans - No Big Deal (And I think Terri wrote it!)


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2 Comments


Guest
Jun 04

I've always dressed up for work-even as a Kinder teacher. Given my age, I am old school. I still add 2 spaces after sentences! I have my reasons for dressing up, and many are in line with John's arguments. However, I don't think I should expect everyone to have my same beliefs and values. I do think there should be SOME parameters around dress, like not wearing clothing in disrepair or that is too revealing and inappropriate for school. As a leader, it is my job to tell folks when they are out of line, and I tell folks up front that I have no problem doing this. My rule has been, if you have to look in th…


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Thanks so much for your comment! Some of it probably does have to do with generational norms, but we both agree that there needs to be some parameters, including not wearing clothing in disrepair or revealing. We appreciate your point of view!

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