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Dress Codes

  • 1.  Dress Codes

    Posted 07-22-2019 03:09 PM

    I am close to a year in of being a director for a Christian based childcare center. My current dilemma is dress codes. I am curious to know what dress codes others enforce or have in place. Our biggest concern is leggings. While leggings were never designed to be worn as pants we see more of it now more than ever. Are leggings acceptable? I would love to have a dress cade policy in place that leaves our caregivers comfortable and okay with getting dirty.

    Thanks in advance.

    Stacie Christe
    Little Saints Childcare
    Essexville MI

  • 2.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-22-2019 09:11 PM
    Hi Stacie,

    Dress code is a must in every daycare center. I feel that leggings are appropriate if panty lines are not visible, skin is not visibly showing through the material, or if  they are made of a chino or corduroy material. I think that with leggings, the shirt should be looser fitting and long enough to cover the panty line area.

    Unfortunately, some centers I have worked in were very lax over their dress codes. People came to work in skin tight leggings, jeans, and words on their clothing that were against dress code, but were allowed to continue coming to work without incident in this manner.

    I think the major thing with dress code is consistency. If an employee does not follow the dress code, they should be issued a verbal warning for the first offense. If they do this again, they should be written up. A third time, they should be sent home to change without pay or as stated by the the employee handbook.

    The best way to solve this issue is by having clear and concise rules in your employee handbook or by requiring employees to wear a uniform.

    The easiest dress code for employees would be to state that they should wear jeans, leggings, chinos or other pants that do not show visible skin or panty lines. Captis could be worn during spring and summer months. Skirts, shorts, and dresses could be worn slightly above the knee or longer. Clean, neat, closed-toe shoes (including tennis shoes) should be the only shoes worn by employees for safety reasons. Shirts should  be short-sleeved, sleeveless, or long-sleeved with no visible bra lines showing and made of opaque materials. Clothing with wording should not be worn. Little jewelry should be worn, except for stud earrings, close-fitting necklaces etc. Hair should be kept neat. It could either be pulled back or left down.

    Jennifer United States

  • 3.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-23-2019 07:55 AM
    Hello Jennifer,

    I appreciate your response to Stacie.  I agree with you on the dress code.  As professionals we need to dress sensible and professional for our jobs.  I have worked at some facilities that had a dress code of wearing a t-shirt with the school logo on it and jeans.  Although that was sensible, I felt it wasn't quite professional enough.  I have worked at a center where the dress code was like the one you described as above.  My only concern would be to take in the person's body shape.  It is how to find clothing for some sizes and the cost of clothes.  We barely make enough money to support ourselves.

    Jennifer Anderson
    Lead teacher
    Creative Kids Preschool
    Gladstone MI

  • 4.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-23-2019 08:57 AM
    Jennifer Anderson,

    I also appreciate Jennifer's response. I do agree that we are professionals and we should dress sensibly. I also have a concern due to many different shapes of my staff and financial aspect of my staff. I'd love to move towards something such as black slacks and polo tops or tops with our logo however it is just not feasible as I myself have to be frugal in order to support myself. So I understand. I do believe leggings can be acceptable when worn with a proper length shirt or dress.

    Thank You,

    Stacie Christe
    Little Saints Childcare
    Essexville MI

  • 5.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-23-2019 08:19 AM
    Thank you. Your response is helpful moving forward. The employee handbook is being updated and I have time to adjust/fix or dress code policy.

    Stacie Christe
    Little Saints Childcare
    Essexville MI

  • 6.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-23-2019 12:20 PM
    When writing our Teacher Handbook, I did some research and decided to stay away from specifics, such as skirts must be a certain length, tank top straps must be a certain width, etc.  Our language is "Dress & Personal Appearance - Employees have a direct impact on the image of our school and should appear neat, clean and dressed appropriately.  Save your favorite / best clothes for other occasions; paint and spills do get on clothes at school.  We go outside in nearly every kind of weather so please dress appropriately for the weather..."

    Tori Roedel
    My School Preschool
    Greenwood Vlg CO

  • 7.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-23-2019 07:05 PM
    Hi Tori,

    Did you find that by using less restrictive language such as "skirts being a certain length" being followed at your center? I have been in centers with very specific dress codes and they were still ignored by many of the staff. One person may think that skin tight jeans and high heels are appropriate for work, while the majority do not. I think directors need to be very careful allowing employees to decide what clothing is appropriate for work. Truly, the only option to reduce this concern is a uniform supplied by the school itself.

    Jennifer United States

  • 8.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-23-2019 03:59 PM
    I found as a Center Director it was helpful to identify when there was a need for a particular action and engage all of the stakeholders in the process to determine how to meet the need. I am curious to know what led to your wanting to explore creating a dress code. For example, are there any issues with the way the staff dress now when they come to work. If not, what is the purpose for a dress code.

    I found as a Center Director having a uniform for staff was helpful to our overall operations in several ways:

    1) It helped families and visitors quickly see who were the members of our staff and who were not. This was helpful when someone came to pick up a child for the first time and did not know the teachers.

    2) It eliminated the need to deal with issues with how some issues with how some people dressed when they came to work.

    3) It made it easy for the staff to know what to buy to wear to work.

    Robert Gundling, Ed.D.
    Better Futures LLC
    Senior Consultant
    Washington, DC

  • 9.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-25-2019 10:13 AM
    Hello Robert,

    We do have a current dress code which is repeatedly violated by most of the staff. However most of the staff seem to think that it is not themselves who are doing the violating. If that makes sense. My staff like to blame one caregiver in particular, this caregiver is six feet tall and all legs. 4 inch inseam or longer shorts are going to naturally appear shorter on my tall caregiver than on my shorter legged caregivers. The tattle-telling is becoming a bit too much.

    The thought of having a uniform is intriguing. I am not sure how my caregivers would feel about that. Thank you for your help.

    Stacie Christe
    Little Saints Childcare
    Essexville MI

  • 10.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-24-2019 08:21 AM
    I have been working at our Center for 20+ years. The past three years I have served in the role of director. One of the first things that I initiated as Director was a dress code. I knew from experience that how I dressed affected how involved in the classroom I was. If I came to work wearing comfy pants and a hoodie, I found myself to be lazier than if I dressed in jeans and a nicer shirt. We discussed as a team what everyone thought would be appropriate work clothes. We settled on jeans/capris/slacks and a polo with our logo on it for the Lead Teachers. Our student workers are to wear jeans/capris/slacks and a t-shirt with either the Center logo or College logo on it (we are located on a College campus). We eliminated shorts because trying to monitor length was very difficult. If we have any male teachers they are allowed to wear cargo shorts since guys don't typically wear capris. We also eliminated leggings because most times they were not worn in what I feel is the most appropriate way ( longer shirt to cover rear, not see through, etc.) If you think about the height of children and where their heads are if you were to bend over while wearing thin leggings that are see through, it is definitely inappropriate.
    We were also concerned about the financial impact on our employees, but we determined that there are many places where uniforms are required (restaurants for example) so it was not unreasonable to ask this of our employees.
    I feel that this decision has positively impacted our Center. We are professionals and now we look the part.

    Stephanie Cage
    Jefferson College
    Hillsboro MO

  • 11.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 07-24-2019 03:45 PM
    I appreciate Stephanie's approach of having a staff discussion regarding dress code.  This encourages "buy-in" and they much more likely to follow the dress code and help their peers be accountable.  I wonder if engaging your families would be possible as well.  After all, when they are proud of and happy with the center, they are the best (and least expensive) form of advertising.  This is a perfect opportunity to find out about their culture, and wishes for their children, and to make them aware of how important they are to your organization.

    Andrea Dekker
    Technical Assistant, QIRS System
    United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona
    Tucson AZ

  • 12.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 02-16-2021 12:26 PM
    I love the idea of having discussions with staff about planning a dress code. Sometimes it helps to read material to discuss or participate in a training such as one that explores "the boundaries of culturally inclusive dress code policies with the lens of DAP." So much to talk about!
    Best wishes,

    Peggy Ashbrook
    Early childhood science teacher
    Alexandria, VA
    NSTA The Early Years columnist, Science and Children
    Early Years blogger,
    Author: Science Learning in the Early Years, and
    Science Is Simple

  • 13.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 02-17-2021 09:00 AM
    I agree that engaging staff in the process of creating a dress code is the key to ensuring participation and compliance. However, could it sound less restrictive by calling it something like 'personal appearance expectations'? Regarding the idea of requiring a uniform shirt, there are some things to consider:
    1) cost - who's going to pay for the custom shirts? If required, could the center pay for the first shirt? Child care employees generally don't make enough money to purchase clothing that they wouldn't wear outside of work.
    2) There are inherent problems with requiring a uniform shirt. Someone (probably the director) would need to monitor the general condition of the shirts worn on a given day, and that's a task no one wants to take on. If an employee only has 1-2 uniform shirts, chances are good that you are going to see soiled, wrinkled shirts sometime during the work week, which doesn't project the professional image you're aiming for.
    I believe that general expectations are best when it comes to clothing. One's personal style is often a large part of their identity.
    I'm curious - do any centers have strict guidelines regarding employees' tattoos? So many people are inked nowadays that it almost seems like a non-issue. Where do your centers draw the line when it comes to body art?

    Maureen Milarch
    Assistant Director
    Grand Rapids Community College Early Childhood Learning Laboratory
    Grand Rapids MI

  • 14.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 02-18-2021 08:45 AM
    I have worked for a program with general guidelines and I personally prefer that, but my current program requires that staff wear a scrubs like smock over their clothing that we provide.  The other requirement is comfortable slacks or pants other than jeans or sweats.  The reasoning they have for establishing this is because our programs are in shared spaces and they want it to be easy for families to identify our staff from the other people working in the building.  I also like how the smocks protect the staff's personal clothing when engaging in the messier aspects of our work.

    As to tattoos, the programs I have worked with just required that any tattoo that are visible must be appropriate from a content perspective.  I personally have my tattoos in places that are not particularly visible because I recognize how first impressions can impact the building of strong relationships.  That said some of the more highly regarded teachers I have worked with were visibly tattooed and it seemed to have minimal impact because their professionalism and personality where strong enough to negate any negative assumptions related to their body modifications.

    Laura Pearce
    Perry Hall MD

  • 15.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 02-18-2021 10:28 AM
    Considering offering bib aprons with pockets or cobbler's aprons to all. You can give a budget to each teacher or choose a more uniform look that expresses the character of your program. Aprons protect clothing - great in EC - and can be changed without leaving children unsupervised. Working with small children means that at some point you will be covered in saliva, urine, paint, etc. and must contain the mess as you clean yourself, the child, and the classroom. It is such a relief in those situation to be able to throw the item in a bucket of water - plus the teacher always has pockets.

    Jeanne deMarrais
    The Mulberry Tree
    Santa Monica CA

  • 16.  RE: Dress Codes

    Posted 02-18-2021 01:51 PM
    Interesting point about the condition of required shirts. I just signed up for the above free Early Childhood Investigations webinar in April called "What do Tattoos, Hairstyles, and Piercings have to do with DAP in Early Childhood Care and Education?"

    Margery Heyl
    Chicago IL