14 Ridiculous Dress Code Rules for Teachers You Won’t Believe Are Real

You want to do WHAT with my shoes?

14 Ridiculous Dress Code Rules for Teachers You Won't Believe Are Real

Recently, we asked teachers on the WeAreTeachers Facebook page to share their most ridiculous school rules for teachers with us. And did they ever! We got so many great responses, and we were shocked by the crazy dress code rules in particular. Teachers shared one wild rule after another on this topic. These are some of our favorites.

By the way, these rules came from teachers around the world, in all kinds of schools—public, private, charter, union, non-union, you name it. All were shared by real teachers, though we’re keeping their identity private.

Rule #1: If they float, you can’t wear ’em. 

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Wow, you better buy some steel-toed shoes! At one school, a reader wrote that their shoes have to pass an old-fashioned witch hunt test. “If your shoes float, they aren’t professional. The principal brought a water basin in and ‘tested’ them when he saw fit. When my sandal sunk, he handed it to me soaking wet and simply said, ‘Hmmm…. I could have sworn…'” 

Rule #2: No hats, even on recess duty. 

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It’s always frustrating when school rules override common sense. “Our previous superintendent/principal banned hats from campus, even outdoors. I had skin cancer and asked if I could wear a hat outside. He told me it wasn’t ‘professional.’ I had to go to the specialist and get a written note saying I needed one and then had to get the union involved—all to prevent further cancer.” At least this one has a happy ending. After the rest of the staff complained, this crazy rule has been stricken from the books.

Rule #3: You must dress as a team. 

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Plenty of schools require teachers to wear some type of uniform, but what about when that uniform is a little too familiar? “At my old school all teachers were required to wear a red polo shirt and khakis every Monday for solidarity,” said one teacher. “I made it a point to never shop at Target after work on Mondays for that specific reason.” 

Rule #4: Women must wear pantyhose …and we will do random checks. 

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Stockings (aka hose) were de rigeur for women for many years. “Many years ago I had a principal that required us to wear pantyhose,” shared an older teacher. “He would do a check each day. He’d go around and touch your calf to be sure you had them on. If he suspected you had on knee highs, he’d make you lift your skirt.” It’s hard to imagine that behavior happening today, but a surprising number of schools still require female teachers to wear pantyhose. “I had a friend whose principal made them wear nylons every day. Even when they wore jeans and the school shirt. In Texas heat!”

Our favorite stocking story came from a teacher who decided to take this silly school rule literally. When told she needed to wear hose every day, she tied them around her neck like a scarf!

Rule #5: No jeans …ever. Even on work days with no students. 

At a school I used to work at we were only allowed to wear jeans from New York and Company and Express. So 90% of us never got to wear jeans.

Teachers who are allowed to wear jeans every day are the envy of those who can’t. A huge number of schools don’t allow these practical denim pants into the classroom, even for teachers who spend half their day on the floor with their kids. At one school we heard of, jeans aren’t even allowed on teacher workdays when you’re cleaning your classroom. Of course, even when jeans are allowed, it’s not always ideal. “At a school I used to work at we were only allowed to wear jeans from New York & Company and Express. So 90% of us never got to wear jeans,” says one teacher.

Rule #6: Ankles must be covered. And no pants with pockets. 

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We can maaaybe understand why jeans aren’t allowed in every school, but some of the other rules we saw regarding school pants are just bonkers. One school prohibits corduroy pants. Another allows any color of denim but blue. Multiple teachers said their dress code doesn’t allow them to wear pants that show their ankles. And then there’s perhaps the craziest of them all: “I had a principal once who wouldn’t allow pants with pockets.” 

Rule #7: If you show your feet, toenails must be polished. 

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Another popular debate is whether teachers should be allowed to wear open-toe shoes, including sandals and flip flops. We can see some possible safety issues coming into play here, but this school rule has nothing to do with avoiding broken toes: “If you wear sandals your toenails must be painted.” Think that applies to men, too?

Rule #8: Female teachers must wear make-up, and only certain shades of lipstick. 

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Believe it or not, some schools require female teachers to wear makeup every day. Of course, there are some nutty rules that go along with that, including this gem: “Teachers can only use red or brown lipstick. No pink, nude, or dark colors.” 

Rule #9: Thou shalt not roll up your shirt sleeves. 

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One teacher relates: “For a while at my school, the male teachers were not allowed to roll up their shirt sleeves as they saw fit. Instead they were told that they would get an email if it was hot enough for them to be allowed to roll their sleeves. Naturally they never did get an email as the people who made those decisions sat in air conditioned offices all day.”

Rule #10: No UGGs. 

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People have a lot of reasons for hating UGG boots, including possible crimes against fashion. But this school rule has a different rationale: “The owner of our school banned teachers from wearing UGGs because she said they were made from the skins of dead emus.” True? No. Ridiculous? Yup.

Rule #11: Leave your hoodies at home.  

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At one school, teachers better not show up wearing shirts with hoods (popularly called hoodies). “Our principal said that’s what criminals wear. So I wore one to our staff photo.” Smooth criminal, indeed!

Rule #12: Avoid comfortable clothing. 

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Some school rules could actually use a little more clarification. Here’s the dress code at one elementary school: “If you are so comfortable you don’t need to change when you get home from work, you are too comfortable for work.” 

Rule #13: No outie belly buttons allowed. 

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We understand requiring teachers to wear shirts that cover their belly buttons. But this is taking it a step too far: “Female teachers must wear a band-aid over their belly button when pregnant.” Because being pregnant while teaching isn’t hard enough.

Rule #14: No dark underwear. 

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One teacher shared this alarming rule with us: “We cannot wear dark underwear.” We don’t want to know any more.

What ridiculous dress code rules for teachers have you seen? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, teacher stock images that are so bad they’re good.

14 Ridiculous Dress Code Rules for Teachers You Won’t Believe Are Real 

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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