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Do all boarding schools have uniforms?

IMG_5172If you’re applying to boarding school, there’s one question that has surely crossed your mind: Do all boarding schools have uniforms? The answer is, not necessarily.

Dress code at boarding schools is a popular topic of discussion. Most boarding schools have a dress code in some fashion, but the requirements may differ widely from school to school. Some mandate a standard uniform for all students, while others have a less rigid dress code that dictates the type of clothing allowed, but not necessarily the exact style. Cheshire Academy, one of the best boarding schools in New England, offers a hybrid dress code that combines what we term, “academic dress” with a once-weekly “formal dress code.” You could call it the best of both worlds.

Academic dress at Cheshire Academy, and at many other top boarding schools, typically means there are rules to follow but freedom to make choices. Students are asked to dress professionally but may choose the types of dress shirts, pants, skirts, and dresses they wear. Boys are typically required to wear a tie, and blazers are often required attire, as well. Each school may have more detailed rules about lengths of skirts and dresses, accessories, and even hair colors, so be sure to read your student handbook for specifics.

For those boarding schools that require a uniform or formal dress code, specific instructions on what to purchase are made available to students upon enrollment. Cheshire Academy’s formal dress, which occurs every Friday, is a tradition dating back to the Civil War in which students donned both blue and gray colors to unite the two sides. Today the dress remain similar and requires gray slacks or skirt, white button-down shirt with a collar, navy blue blazer with the official Academy patch, an Academy tie, and dress shoes.

So why do boarding schools have a dress code or uniform? Dress codes and uniforms promote a shared sense of community. Some even say it helps promote school spirit and brings the community together as a united team. A dress code’s function is similar to that of an athletic team; it shows unity and ensures that students are well-dressed for school.

Dress codes often limit distractions in the classroom, and allow students to focus on learning. Some studies have shown that dress code may actually enhance one’s performance in the classroom or workplace.

Students who are accustomed to a dress code are often well-prepared for life outside of boarding school. Looking your best for college interviews and job interviews is important, and dress codes instill a sense of business-appropriate style in students from an early age. Dress for success isn’t just a clever rhyme.  


Stacy Jagodowski

Written by Stacy Jagodowski

Ms. Jago joined the Cheshire Academy community in August 2013 as the director of strategic marketing and communications. Prior to coming to Cheshire Academy, she spent six years working in communications offices at both colleges and private school, as well as five years in admission at both boarding schools and day schools.

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