What Happened to School Style?


Last Monday marked the official last day of summer vacation for many. We’ve returned to work in full force. School buses and school zones are back in operation, though soccer moms in mini vans and SUVs haven’t yet noticed the flashing yellow lights. Two-thirds of every post on Facebook this past week mentioned the first day of school for many kids with pictures of them dressed in their new back-to-school clothes. Surprisingly, stores are already chock full of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and food. It’s not all that surprising, we suppose.

We noticed something quite peculiar, however, with those first day of school posts on Facebook. This will make us sound old, but what are kids wearing to school these days? These pictures are posted by friends and family, many of whom we’re well acquainted. We know what their parent’s expected of them when we were in grade school and high school.

In the not-too-distant past, school dress codes required more of students than what seems common these days. Wearing jeans, at one time, was considered dressing down. Not today. Wearing jeans today is dressing up.

We were surprised to see the number of kids going to school in what was once considered P.E. clothes, mesh shorts, tee shirts and sneakers for boys. That was the common “outfit” we saw boys wearing for the first day back to school. For girls, they mostly wore jean shorts and tee shirts, an “outfit” not uncommonly worn at theme parks during the dog days of summer.


This was, for many, their first day back to school, a chance to start fresh and new. These kids were meeting some teachers for the first time and reacquainting with others and they were dressed no better than us on a Saturday spent binge watching Netflix.

As we’re all about finance and economics at Debt Free Guys, we wonder how this trend from dressed to casual to gym clothes has been influenced by the economy. We think back to school shopping has be-come more of a financial burden than many parents care to tolerate.

Is this the result of stagnant wages and inflation, most prevalent in grocery and gas costs? Is being underemployed and unemployed manifesting itself in the way workers who are not working enough require their kids to dress for the first day of school? Is it too contradictory for parents to have to write a monthly check for their apartment rental then spend a few hundred dollars dressing their kids for a new school year? Or, has the style of dress that a college student adorns for an 8 AM class after being at a frat party till 2 AM trickled down to high school and middle school?

We don’t have the answers. We haven’t asked our friends. It’s just a simple observation we had while scrolling through FB these last few days.

Is it correlation or causation? We don’t know, but it’s an interesting question. What do you think? Is it finance, style or just picking and choosing battles?

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Comment List

  • Stefanie 08 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    When I started high school 15 years ago it was all about jeans and sweatpants. Doesn’t bother me, but what I think it crazy is the high waisted short shorts that literally ride up the butt exposing the butt from the bottom. I mean, they’re 14 years old!

  • Froogal Stoodent 10 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    Trends come and go. They’ve been moving toward being casual and comfortable. Wait 20 years, and kids will likely be asking to dress up in nice-looking, semi-formal clothes that flaunt wealth and sophistication.

  • Kate @ Money Propeller 14 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    The pictures are really funny! hahaha!! When I was on my first year college, I only wear pants, tees and backpack.

    • John Schneider 18 / 09 / 2014 Reply

      Ha, thanks! We try to make finance a little humorous, sometimes to a fault. Thanks for reading.

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