What Are the Pros and Cons of School Uniforms?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on October 07, 2022
3 min read

You can make many arguments about the various pros and cons of school uniforms and whether they are necessary. While they have traditionally been used in many private and religious schools, they have become even more popular in recent years. In fact, a 2020 report showed that the percentage of public schools that require uniforms went from 12% in 1999 to 20% in 2017.

Debates about whether or not school uniforms make a difference in students' learning experiences persist, though, with many proposed pros and cons. 

School uniforms are a standard form of dress set by an academic institution. Though they often include some options, such as pants or shorts for boys and skirts, pants, or shorts for girls, they are generally all the same color. 

One of the first records of school uniforms was made in 1222, when the Archbishop of Canterbury made a rule that students had to wear a robe-like outfit called a "cappa clausa." These robes were used as a way to standardize the dress among school boys, making it easier for school teachers to keep track of boarding school students. In later centuries, this practice became associated with the upper class, and boys at prestigious schools would wear very formal coats with button-up shirts and top hats. These cumbersome standards (and cumbersome clothes) eventually became more relaxed, though.

As mentioned earlier, schools that have uniforms may use them as a way to standardize the dress code amongst their students. Many private schools or those that are religious will use uniforms to create a sense of order and uniformity. Children and teens can sometimes look unkempt or choose to wear clothes that may be considered provocative or offensive, especially in religious schools. 

Additionally, schools that favor uniforms feel that they help create a safer educational environment, letting students focus more on learning, as opposed to what they're going to wear to school the next day.


There are many benefits of school uniforms that parents, teachers, and students often agree on. Schools that use uniforms argue that they:

  • Encourage discipline and set clearly defined rules.
  • Promote comradery and foster a sense of community.
  • Make it easier for students to get ready in the morning – they're convenient.
  • Make laundry less of a hassle for parents.


Some argue that the cons of school uniforms outweigh the pros. They argue that:

  • Most kids don't like school uniforms.
  • Uniforms limit closet space.
  • Kids who wear uniforms are more likely to be bullied.
  • Uniforms don't allow children to be creative – they only teach them to comply.
  • Uniforms can affect a kid's self-image.

Uniforms are usually a standard set of clothes chosen by schools. Most of the time, you can purchase them from special uniform stores or directly from the school. 

Depending on the school's choice of attire, uniforms will usually have the school's crest or emblem on button-up or polo shirts, as well as blazers and sweatshirts. 

These days, students can often choose from a range of options, such as: 

  • Polo shirts or blouses, usually in plain colors like white and/or the colors of the school
  • White button-up shirts
  • Shorts, usually khaki
  • Pants, also usually khaki
  • Blazers, worn for more formal occasions (such as Mass at Catholic schools)
  • Sweatshirts or some other form of sweater with the school's name or logo

Dress codes, on the other hand, are different from school uniforms. They are not standardized, which usually means that students can wear most varieties of a specific type of clothing. Schools that use dress codes might have students wear pants of the same or similar color, but they don't necessarily have to be the same brand or style. Many schools throughout the country have started using dress codes in recent years as a way to hopefully promote equality among students and improve academic success.

School uniforms are neither good nor bad – they have both upsides and downsides. At the end of the day, the decision about incorporating school uniforms (or a dress code) comes down to the specific school and its unique needs. Sometimes, having a school uniform helps a school meet certain needs and expectations of the parents whose students will attend it.