As an assistant principal at Mill Creek Middle School, I was responsible for enforcing the dress code and I occasionally heard from parents that it was impossible to shop for students in today's world because the popular stores do not carry clothing that meets the dress code of our school. This year, I had the opportunity to put that theory to the test as I went shopping with my 12 year old daughter who will attend the 7th grade at Mill Creek Middle School this year. It was an interesting experience to say the least. The first store that we went into was called Delias - it is, apparently, a popular store among teenage girls today. I had never been in the store before and had actually never even heard of it. Most of the other stores we went to I had at least heard of although I must admit that I have not been in most of them. Stores like Hollister, Aeropostale, Journey, and several other stores that were unfamiliar to me.
Believe it or not, it was an enjoyable experience once I got beyond the awkwardness of feeling out of place. I talked with several parents in each of the stores who were also shopping with their students of various ages and I learned a ton. First and foremost, I learned that you can shop at the "in" stores and comply with the current middle school and high school dress codes in Comstock Park. Here are a few tips:
1. Set limits with your student before you go. Review the school dress code and explain that you are going shopping for school. It is important for students to understand that shopping for school is different than shopping in general just like shopping for work or an interview is different than shopping in general for me. Just because something is "cute" and I like it doesn't mean I should buy it for school. You might also want to talk about how much you plan to spend and let you student be a part of the budgeting process - that cuts down on the amount of begging you will be subjected to at the mall.
2. Take the school dress code along with you. Again, it is important to shop with a purpose and the purpose is school. You and your student will have questions about the dress code while shopping and it is good to be able to review the policy to answer the questions.
3. Work with the staff at the stores. Tell the sales people why you are there and explaine the highlights of the dress code to them. As the parent, it is also okay for you to tell them that you will not purchase anything that does not comply with the dress code. This is powerful language to a sales person - once they understand how to sell you clothes, you'll be amazed at the number of options they come up with that meet the dress code even at all of the "in" stores.
4. Compromise. I paid a little more for shorts than I normally would have because they met the requirements of the dress code and my daughter liked them. It was helpful that we had a conversation about budget before we started shopping so that my daughter understood the impact of her choice - if I buy the more expensive shorts, I may not be able to buy something else. That's actually called "opportunity cost" and is a great social studies/economics concept that students should be learning in school.
5. Make a day of it and enjoy the time with your child. My daughter and I had a wonderful time and we learned a little bit about each other - we also had dinner as a family after we were done shopping.
I hope that you find these tips helpful. Finally, I've linked the CPHS Dress Code Guidelines below. You can find a full explanation of the dress in our Student Handbook on the high page of our website.
High School Dress Code Guidelines for Girls
High School Dress Code Guidelines for Boys