American girls are really easy going

Dress code in high school

American high school clothes

Although school uniforms are not common at most American high schools, there are strict "dress codes" that differ from school to school. When writing your packing list, you should definitely make sure that you have enough neutral clothing with you that you can wear to school. In the following you will find some tips to avoid the worst "mistakes".

Every school in the US has a different dress code and different regulations, so it is advisable that you make sure you understand what is and what is not allowed on your student exchange before your first day of school. For example, you can find this on the high school website or your school has a manual that gives you the rules.

To be on the safe side: you can't go wrong on your first day with long jeans, a neutral T-shirt or sweater (without print) and sneakers.

No-go: showing too much bare skin

An absolute no-go at American schools is showing too much skin, especially for girls. Pants and skirts shouldn't be too short. Often the "fingertip length" applies, which means you stand up straight and let your arms hang down loosely at the sides: the hem of the skirt / pants must at least touch your fingertips.

There are also precise regulations for tops: there shouldn't be too much belly, cleavage and shoulders to be seen. This means that tops and T-shirts should not be cropped or have a large neckline. Top straps should also be at least 2 inches (5.1 cm) wide. It is also better not to wear halter tops, the same applies to see-through clothing.

Also not welcome:

Certain imprints. You should be careful with prints that glorify violence, drugs and alcohol, have something to do with gangs, contain a political message or are otherwise controversial in any way (e.g. the Playboy Bunny), sometimes it even becomes critical with skull prints.

Slippers and flip flops are also not welcome at many high schools, so it is best to wear sturdy shoes (sneakers, lace-up shoes). In some cases, headgear such as caps, hats and caps must be removed before entering the building.

In general, the following applies: do not show too much bare skin (or underwear) and avoid prints related to politics, violence and drugs.

It is best to avoid the following items of clothing:

  • Cropped t-shirts / tops
  • Tops with a large neckline
  • Very short skirts or shorts
  • Garments that have gang signs, political and drug or violence-glorifying prints
  • Caps, hats and caps

What happens in the event of a violation?

If you don't follow the school rules and, for example, have on a top with straps that are too narrow, you may have to pull on a T-shirt from the school supplies. If you are wearing a t-shirt with an impermissible print, you may be asked to wear it “inside out”.

Urban and rural high schools often differ in their dress code. In big cities, students are usually more fashion-conscious and place more value on brands than in rural areas, where you can also meet students in sweatpants.

The experience of some exchange students shows that you can be lucky and despite the strict dress code, everyone is wearing tops and short skirts. As an exchange student, however, it is advisable to adhere to the school's dress code at the beginning. The best thing to do is to ask your new classmates how the dress code is regulated there, then you will be smarter and have a topic of conversation to get in touch with locals.

Tip: cheap shopping in the USA

In the USA, some brands and items of clothing are cheaper than here in Germany. So leave a little space in the suitcase for the American "shopping spoils". At schools, you can often buy t-shirts, sweaters or jerseys that represent the school - perfect as a small souvenir of your high school days.


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