Prep school dress codes and/or uniforms

In the interest of providing information to prospective students and parents, please list current (2019-2020) dress codes or uniform guidelines for boarding schools. There have been changes recently. For example, Peddie now allows jeans to be worn (with certain limitations) and Deerfield all students (new for females) now have to wear blazers/jackets to class & sit down meals. The Gunnery seems to have an ensemble of acceptable wear - but more formal than other schools.

Add your school and let’s see…

From the Cate Student Handbook:

Clothing should always be clean and tasteful. Students must wear shoes, a shirt and pants/skirt or dress (or the equivalent) that fully covers body parts and is not see through. Shirts and dresses must have fabric in the front, back, and sides. Clothing must cover undergarments (bra straps allowed).

When formal dress is required, tasteful choices of slacks, dresses, sports coats, ties, skirts, blouses and the like are appropriate. While jeans and sports shirts are not permitted, suits and formal gowns are not necessary. Athletic footwear is not appropriate when formal dress is required.

At Exeter:

According to the E Book, no casual dress such as sweatpants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, leggings etc.

Turtlenecks, sweaters, blouses, polos, jeans, and the like are acceptable. Dress code is only in effect during required appointments. Regarding free time, there is no required dress code.

(In practice: depending on the teachers you have, you might want to stick to dress code on the first day and gauge how lenient your teachers are about that… then proceed to go off that. The only reason I stay in dress code all the time is all of my day clothes adhere to it. Shh, I never said any of this!)

Also, do yourselves a favour and don’t buy an entirely new wardrobe like I did.


(According to the handbook)

During hours when classes are in session, including lunch and School meetings, the following dress code applies:

• Shirts/Tops: collared shirts, tailored blouses, turtlenecks, or sweaters. Sweatshirts, even with hoods, do not fulfill dress code requirements and may only be worn over an approved top.

• Pants: khakis, denim jeans, trousers (leggings or jeggings may only be worn under long tops or skirts or dresses).

• Shorts: tailored with pockets and must be finger-tip length or longer.

• Dresses and skirts: tailored and must be finger- tip length or longer.

• Sleeveless blouses are acceptable provided the straps are one inch or wider.


From breakfast to end of classes:

Written dress code says no hooded sweatshirts, but teachers usually don’t mind.

  • Shirts: collared shirts; no t-shirts with logos; blouses, turtlenecks, or sweaters
  • Bottoms: no blue denim; dress shorts allowed before fall long weekend (mid-october); leggings may not be worn as pants, must be worn with some kind of longer shirt or sweater
  • Dresses or skirts: Written dress code says fingertip length or longer, no one minds if you go a little shorter than that (I've noticed since being here that A LOT of girls wear skirts all the time)
  • Any shoes
  • No dress code after classes end.

Thacher is SUPER casual. Lots of kids wear shorts to class. Having said that, there are formal dinners 4X each week. (Jackets, dresses, skirts or nice slacks).


  • No sheer clothing
  • No hats in the dining hall unless for a religious purpose
  • No torn clothing
  • No clothing that exposes your midriff, back, has a plunging neckline, or is inappropriately revealing

Other than that, the regular day attire is whatever you want to wear. Completely casual, just a regular school environment. I wear t-shirts and jeans or sweats to class everyday as do many others. On specific occasions, like during convocation or special programs, we have special academic dress which is:

  • Dress shirt with folded collar (e.g. button-down, point, spread) should be tucked in and should be accompanied by a sports jacket, tie and, dress pants or dress shorts
  • Dressy blouse or sweater paired with dressy pants or skirt (the length of which should be at least mid-thigh)
  • Dresses (the length of which should be at least mid-thigh)
  • Outfits representative of other cultures that are consistent with the formality of Special Academic Dress and are worn in an appropriately respectful manner.
  • A sweater or jacket covering the shoulders of apparel that has shoulder straps less than 2 inches wide
  • Dress shoes or dress sandals in good repair (no flip flops, sneakers, or work boots) (but like everyone just wears sneakers)

Anyway Choate has probably the most relaxed dress code of any boarding school frequently discussed on CC

Andover written dress code:
Neat and clean. Dress appropriately.

Salisbury (all boys):
For class, chapel, and meals (other than dinner, but certain formal meals) - pants (no jeans), belt, dress shirt, tie, shoes (no sneakers).

I believe dinner and certain other non-class times require pants and a collared shirt. No athletic attire in the dining hall.

Study hall, Saturday’s after class, and Sundays are pretty casual.

Turtlenecks, sweaters, quarter zips (Under a blazer) are permitted in the winter. Bermuda shorts (no cargo shorts) are permitted in warm weather.

The dress code is enforced. If you need an exception (such as wearing sneakers due to injury) you need to get permission from your class dean… it’s strict, but the kids look neat and don’t mind putting on a jacket and tie six days per week.

Written dress code says no jeans, no leggings. In reality the kids wear all kind of jeans in a variety of colors except blue jean color. Girls wear leggings often and no teacher cares. So the reality of the dress code is far less restrictive than what is written. Sweatshirts are fine at all times.

For more formal events like sit down or athletic banquets girls will wear a dress or skirt and boys will wear a jacket and tie.

FWIW - some schools downplay dress code or have relaxed/casual dress during the winter months. At DA during the winter (some time between winter break and spring break) students can wear jeans and sweaters, no blazers, and generally have more of a casual attire. BTW, the DA store sells great winter fleece wear and accessories. Stop by if you are touring.

Sorry to bother you all,
but my interview (for Exeter) is tomorrow afternoon and I was wondering if you could judge if my outfit choices are all right.
I don’t know exactly what to wear-I’m thinking not formal not casual, (no leggings, sweatshirts, t-shirts, duh) like right in between. Would a nice cardigan with an undershirt as well as jeans be ok? (Are there any shoe restrictions? Boots?) I honestly don’t have many preppy clothes, but if needed, I can find nicer ones. I just want to make sure I fit the dress code well enough to make a good impression.

I wouldn’t wear jeans to an interview but I don’t know Exeter we’ll from a dress code perspective.

Girl or boy?

Good luck with your interview! I agree with the above advice and try to avoid wearing jeans. If you only have jeans, then that is ok if it’s with a nice sweater. Generally try to stay within the school’s dress code. Khaki pants, or sold color pants are fine. You might see guys wearing a blue blazer or a sweater. Most guys we see wear pants and a long sleeve shirt (with sweater or jacket in winter). Tennis shoes/sneakers/boots ok. Girls - pants, skirts, dresses. The only thing that seems to not be cool at a lot of schools are leggings and leggings with Uggs combinations, work out clothes, t-shirts with provocative messages or shock value. You want them to remember YOU, instead of your outfit.

@petrich0r I think dark jeans with no rips are fine. They are within dress code at Exeter. Pair with a cardigan and boots and you will be class appropriate. The most important thing is to be comfortable in what you wear and feel like yourself.

Thank you all so much! I think I’ll just stick with my original plan since I don’t really have a pair of dress pants or such. I really appreciate the help and advice.

Good luck, @petrichor11 ! Have fun.

@gardenstategal Thank you! It’s in 40 minutes. Any last tips?

Make sure you have a few good questions to ask! Make eye contact. But otherwise, relax and be yourself.

the interview was amazing!!! My interviewer was great, very talkative, and genuinely interested in my success. We had lots of fascinating conversations and the interview was over an hour long.