Dressing appropriately on the first day of school

Knowing what not to wear on the first day of school is crucial to getting the year off to a good start. Clothing choices are an important component of the overall first impression we make. Dressing appropriately for the new school year is a key ingredient for creating a positive experience.

Whether you are starting at a new school or going back to your old one after summer break, you will have different teachers and classmates, and this is your opportunity to express whatever message you want to convey about yourself through your choice of wardrobe.

The first consideration is to not overdress or dress down. Wearing flashy clothing, too much makeup and clunky, difficult to walk in shoes displays equally poor judgment as showing up on the first day in old sweats or dirty jeans with uncombed hair hidden under a grungy baseball cap.

It is not necessary to have a brand new wardrobe, but clothing should be clean, neat and attention should be paid to personal grooming. Even casual dress can demonstrate a respectful and dignified attitude.

Obviously if your school ascribes to uniforms, the challenge of what to wear is minimal and confined to accessories and makeup. If your school does not have uniforms, but does have a mandatory dress code, then that is your guideline for what is appropriate to wear and what items to avoid.

Here are some suggestions in the event there is no uniform or dress code at your school.

What not to wear on the first day, or any other day of the school year:

Any article of clothing or accessory that could be interpreted as gang related. This can pertain to armbands, hats, logos, specific colors and any other known gang paraphenalia.

Any item of clothing or accessory that has a controversial connotation. Items in this category include, but are not limited to, t-shirts with sayings that are political rants, racist, sexist or any other offensive material, such as profanity or disrespectful humor.

For girls: Short shorts, see-through tops, revealing or tight clothing.

For boys: Baggy pants so loose they slide down and show underwear.

Clunky, noisy jewelry and chains that will be a visual or auditory distraction to others in the classroom.

Any item of clothing or accessory deliberately worn to attract excessive attention or make a rebellious statement.

There are after school hours and weekends to exercise extreme individuality and spirited clothing choices. During school hours dress with decorum and in a low key manner sending the message that you are committed to learning and serious in your efforts on behalf of your own education. Remember that the impression you give on the first day will likely remain with you for the whole year, if not for your entire school experience.

A good method for determining what is appropriate for the first day is to peruse back to school catalogs and clothing store flyers. Much research goes into school fashion trends. By following retailers advertised suggestions, and modifying them to suit your own personality, when making new purchases or taking inventory of what you already have in your closet, you will be assured of having an updated, appropriate “look” on your first day returning to school.

After deciding upon your outfit, put it through the “wear and hear” test. Try it on, bend over, move and walk around. If you are neat and clean, properly covered from all angles, comfortable, and no noise is made by you accessories, then you are ready to go forth and make a good first day impression.

Being true to yourself and using common sense in the way you dress, especially on the first day of school, will earn you the respect of your teachers, as well as your friends and classmates.