# dress code for parents # Houston principal

A Dress Code for Parents? | Teatime with Jennifer

On today's Teatime with Jennifer we are discussing the viral story regarding the Houston principal who has instituted a dress code for parents at James Madison High School. (Read the original article here).

Several readers sent me this article knowing that one of the popular topics discussed on The Daily Connoisseur is look presentable always, which does not mean to look perfect or expensive, but rather presentable. I believe that this is so important for us as parents. We need to model dignified behavior for our children and part of that is looking the part.

The principal in Houston is (of course) receiving tremendous push-back on her stance. While I don't agree with all of it, I do applaud her for bringing to light this unpopular issue that, I believe, should be addressed.

Join me for today's Teatime with Jennifer and chime in with your own thoughts on the matter! I would love to hear from you. What have you noticed with regard to parents and dressing? Has the principal gone too far or do you agree with her? Let us know and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week on The Daily Connoisseur.

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Unknown said...

I would ask my children (now adults) when I was attending something at their public school if I looked ok. They always said 'you look fine mom'. Then would ask way I wanted their opinion. My response was 'I don't want to embarrass you or have your teachers treat you poorly as a judgment of my presentation. There are many social and psychological studies that show how we present ourselves affects how we feel and act.

Bybee said...

I still remember the day my mother picked me up at school in her pajamas. She rolled up the legs and threw a beautiful belted all weather coat over them. On her feet she wore expensive loafers. But I still cringed, especially when I noticed that one pajama leg was starting to come unrolled as she conversed with my teacher. At the time, I thought mom was being a slob. Now I applaud her attempt at presentable. I must also add that the poor woman was working the night shift at a hospital.

Christine Gaines said...

Hi Jennifer,
As always, I couldn’t agree more with you and I totally applaud this principal for setting the bar where it needs to be. I think the real issue is that we should always put our best effort forth in everything we do. That applies to how we dress as well. Strive to look your best every day for that particular day. Of course, some days require us to dress up more than others. Our kids are most definitely looking at us and will ultimately model our behavior and how we present ourselves. Could you imagine how wonderful our society would be if everyone thought of others instead of just themselves? Respect yourself enough to reflect your appearance appropriately for others.

PF said...

Jennifer, thank you so much for addressing this news story! I couldn't agree more. I have always said that I do it for my family, for 2 reasons: 1; I want to set the example for my children 2; they deserve it! Dressing appropriately everyday is contagious. People notice, and tend to up their game as well.

Susan said...
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Marina said...

It sounds like this principal has had it!!! And I absolutely get it. As a teacher, I have seen parents wearing clothes that made me cringe. It’s one of those feelings where you are embarrassed for someone else...

Frenchcaligirl said...

Nice to see the principal taking a stand. Of course she’ll face pushback from many. I laughed when I heard some of the restrictions, e.g., a shower cap. What are people thinking when dressing like that? I recently was at the Phoenix airport. There was one silver-haired man in front of me in a food line and he looked impeccable. He had nice black slacks, black dress shoes, a white shirt, black tie and a deep purple blazer. What impressed me was how he stood out from everyone else I saw at the airport. Of course I would not advocate that everyone dress like him, the point being that he stood out. I complimented him and he said he represents the city of Phoenix and wants to do it well. His style of dress made such a statement amongst nearly everyone else in sweatpants, leggings, jeans, etc.

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up, no matter what was going on in my world, there was one thing I could always count on: my mom looking fabulous! I don't mean in a fancy, expensive, uber-chic way. We were not a rich family! But, she was always dressed in slacks or a dress or skirt, she always had her hair done, and she always wore makeup. Always. She looked bright and pretty, and the sight of her reassured me and filled me with calm. Things were under control. Mom was put together, and so was our lives.

Years later when I was an adult and Mom was diagnosed with cancer, she was determined to keep it up. She went to her mastectomy armed with a full face of makeup on - I know that sounds extreme! Throughout her treatment, she sported the cutest wigs and wore bright colors. She fought courageously and lived for 10 more years! It was only at the very end that she became too weak to continue.

I think my mom understood the psychological effect her grooming had on her family. It always gave us a lift and made our days just a little brighter.

A Grateful Daughter

Gigi said...

I think that list specifically came from outfits that people have shown up in - that was the impetus of the "dress code." I also applaud this principal. As parents it IS our job to model behavior.

My son and I recently attended a play the local community theater put on - I was pleasantly surprised to note, when he arrived, that he had dressed for the occasion. Which does go to show, they are watching and soaking up the unspoken lessons that we teach.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Ladies, thank you for chiming in with your comments. I have really enjoyed reading all of your perspectives. If you haven't checked out the comments on YouTube, you should do that too! There are hundreds there as well.

A Grateful Daughter- your comment moved me so much. What a beautiful tribute to your mother.

Thank you to all of you for contributing to this blog. I appreciate you!

Jennifer xx

Deborah said...

Wow. I hadn't heard this news report yet.
As for the caps, perhaps it's because a gentleman used to remove his hat when entering a building? (Of course not those worn for religious purposes.) I cringe when men don't even remove their hats for indoor meals, for prayer, or when the flag or national anthem is presented.
This principal is going to save a lot of her students from many embarrassing moments, which will make them less likely to be teased and also be less self-conscious, irritated, (etc.), which will help them in class! And this principal is actually being VERY, VERY LENIENT!!
I love the previous comments you've received here... a dear mother's efforts to hide her PJs, the mom always trying to look her best and how it affected her daughter, and especially the gentleman who "represented Phoenix". Wow. Who are we representing? Our family, our self, our religious convictions... so may reasons to dress appropriately.
Great topic, great blog, Jennifer.

Anonymous said...

I think it was Alexandra Stoddard who said that when you dress well it is a gift you give to others. And who doesn't enjoy the sight of a beautifully dressed person? I think it is sad if we dress our best for strangers though, and don't look our best for our families who deserve it.

At my son's high school most parents dress very appropriately, but I have certainly seen most of the items on the list in public and at the supermarket. Jennifer, it does really puzzle me! I am in my early 50s, and as you said this is just not how it used to be. What do you think has happened to make people so careless?


Debbie said...

No doubt, this principal will get a lot of backlash and mark my word, she'll be called a racist, because this is Houston and much of what she described is worn by a certain culture. I think she's brave and spot on and I would love to see this list posted on every Wal-Mart in America! And, if she were in a predominately white school, she could call the parents out for putting on horrendous yoga pants without the appropriate (very) long tops covering the "bottoms" of these women! The so called "atheleisure" wear, as they call it, is such a fashion mistake, as well. I think we can chalk it all up to society losing anything resembling formality and becoming quite lazy in the way we dress. That being said, my poor kids see me in warm - ups all winter, because it's too uncomfortable to wear jeans all day around the house. Could it be because they keep "shrinking" around the waist? :) Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing this letter and list. I'll be following this story to see how it all turns out.

Anonymous said...

I applaud the principle for expecting certain standards for both students and parents. Education needs to be taken seriously and dressing appropriately for the situation is something that needs to be practiced to prepare children for living their best life and being prepared for the opportunities that come their way. Everyone needs to put in their best effort.While most teachers dress appropriately, there have been occasions where I have cringed at what even a teacher has worn on occasion. In regard to the satin hats and bonnets- I think she is referring to people who get a chemical procedure on their hair and then wear a “Doo-Rag or shower cap in an attempt to multi-task. There used to be a commercial jingle that went “curlers in your hair-shame on you” meaning hair procedures should be done at home. I don’t think she is referring to wearing a scarf as the queen frequently does, or a hajib for that matter.

DD said...

This principal is brave and I love her message. The list made me cringe!

Unfortunately the letter itself also made me cringe. I felt it was rather poorly written, especially coming from an educator. Does her grammar and sentence structure really matter? Yes! Just as dressing inappropriately distracts, poorly written communication distracts from her very important message.

Laura T. Wilson said...

I love this so much. I just reposted to Facebook. On Easter Sunday we tried a new country church we had been wanting to visit. Proabaly 60% had on jeans, sweatshirts, shorts---just work in your yard kind of clothes. I mean,it's Easter for Pete's Sake! I remember Andy Cohen on Bravo saying something a few years back that he went to a Broadway opening and some people had on jeans or sweats. He made a little plea for dressing up at least a little for this! he said, C'mom people, its a Broadway show!

Johanna said...

While I like the idea, I feel it's misguided for a two reasons. One is that it specifically prohibits items of clothing (bonnets) worn by black women to protect their hair. It feels like it targets a specific already discriminated against group of people, which is not chic.

The other reason is that it punishes the children for what their parents do by removing educational opportunities. The original story is about a woman who was not allowed to enroll her daughter in classes because the mom was not dressed according to the dress code. However much I would like people to dress respectably always, I don't think it's appropriate to enforce a dress code in a way that removes educational opportunities from children because of their parents' clothes.

IMO, it's always better to try to inspire others to dress well by being a good role model than by punishing them. I will continue dressing well myself while opposing dress codes like this one. The idea behind it is admirable, but the actual effects of the policy are not.

Anonymous said...

This is a complicated issue. As women, I feel we have been told by society that if we're not perfect, in the stereotypical way, then we are somehow terrible mothers. Why is it that women who are taking their children to school are being judged by what they're wearing? They're taking their kids to school! They're at least involved in that way!! Maybe that's the best they can do. Not everyone is able to be financially stable enough that they can focus on how they're dressed, or afford earrings and makeup. Maybe they're working multiple jobs. Maybe they're a single parent.

It reminds me of when I was in college. A professor said women should not wear long hair or barrettes after they turn 30. And they should not wear polos but should wear button up blouses. And women should wear heels.

Why should women have to worry what is pleasing to "other" people? What is wrong with wearing what is comfortable for that woman? And why is a turban "okay" but the silk wrap isn't?

I just think it's a dangerous slope when we start mandating what we think other people who we don't even know should or should not do.

Elizabeth said...

Anonymous, I absolutely agree with your sentiments about the sexism inherent in policing the sartorial choices of women. I also do not find it chic to constantly criticize the clothing of others. I choose to dress in a presentable manner but it is not my place to decide what that means for other people or even whether or not they should care about it. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Jennifer, I have been a big fan of yours for a long time, but I have begun to be very uncomfortable with the gossipy, critical nature of some of the posts and of many of the comments. I have always been taught that it is bad manners to point out what we believe to be bad manners in others. It is much more chic to present this topic in a way that does not put down others to make your point. I wish that you would elevate the tone of the blog by doing away with the "us against them" theme.

DJ said...

Dear Jennifer, I agree with your post 100%. Thank you for taking on this topic. It's not about money or culture or race, it's about going out in public dressed decently. You can wear a five dollar dress from Goodwill and look perfectly presentable. However, if your butt is showing, your bosom is overflowing, your clothes are transparent, or you can't be bothered to get out of your PJ's before going out in public it just shouldn't be acceptable. Kudos to you for posting about this problem. I feel for that principal because I fear she will be fired for trying to put some standards in place. Everyone is so touchy these days that it's nearly impossible to have any kind of dress code in schools. For those who don't understand just how bad it's gotten in schools, especially high schools, across this nation I urge you to visit your local school for a few hours. It's not about what people are wearing in the car pick up line - it's about those who enter the school building every day. I think many, many of your readers would be shocked to see just how bad it has gotten. Again, I totally agree with your post and thank you for being brave enough to talk about this issue.

mamalb said...

Any self respecting and others-respecting woman would not step out of the house in her sleep wear. That is what the satin cap is for: to protect the hair while you sleep, or perhaps, when you are fresh from the salon. In which case you should still be dressed in clothing appropriate for being outside the home. Any one with a shred of class would wrap that satin bonnet in a presentable headscarf. It does not close off any opportunities, they are free to come back dressed appropriately. Everyone involved is making a choice here. Choices have consequences.

mamalb said...
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Kisha B. said...

This illiberal principal has no compassion or civility. She is titled as an educator however, she being nothing short of judgmental and cancerous to the community. What is seen is not always what it is. A woman in a bonnet dressed in house clothing could be a mother that husband passed away and she is working three jobs to financially support her family. She worked the night shift only to get two hours of sleep before she has to rise to get her four children ready for school. She has one in high school, one in middle school, one in elementary, and the other in a gifted and talented magnet program. She has to get them all to school on time. There is no time to meet the dress code! The Bonnets could also mean alopecia, cancer, or a bad hair day. No one should have to explain their situation as to why they look the way they look. I am sure she would be upset if someone said she should not wear the bonnet, rather wig that she wears every day. I am sure the parents are just as offended seeing that hideous wig as she is their bonnets. Her clothing is two sizes too small. She stretches those skirt to their limitation. That is just as offensive as the women who wear jeans that is “showing lots of skin” or skirts that are “up to your behind”. Not to mention her makeup. Aren’t we teaching our young women to be proud of themselves? All of that make-up slithered on her face with the drawn on eyebrows, Jezebel red lipstick is just as promiscuous as “very low tops that you can see your bust (breast)” or daisy dukes.
She should focus on love, encouragement, and building relationships with the parents. The parents that she is trying to subject to her dominance she should be trying to get to know. A principal should be an influential person. The main thing she needs to think about is, all things considered, those children/students love their parents and they know the struggles and they are living them. While she is trying to berate and project dictatorship over their parents, their loyalty lies with their parents. She will not only the lose support of the parents and community she will also lose the respect from those students. I think Carlotta Brown should put on her “thinking cap” because she truly need to rethink this decision and find a better approach.