What to Wear to Day School
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What to Wear to Day School

When shopping for clothes that adhere to dress codes in Jewish schools, there are Atlanta-based and online retail choices, resale options and WhatsApp groups to choose from.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

Nine-year-old Raizel Isaacs models her new Chaya Mushka shirt.
Nine-year-old Raizel Isaacs models her new Chaya Mushka shirt.

School days are almost here, and the weeks of frayed jeans, flip flops and T-shirts with superhero pictures and clever sayings are quickly coming to an end. Parents of students who attend Atlanta’s Jewish elementary schools must make sure their children’s school garb conforms to specific dress codes.The five Jewish elementary schools in Atlanta have mandatory dress codes. The rules provide students with a range of clothing choices within general boundaries.

The Atlanta Jewish Academy, Chaya Mushka Elementary School, The Davis Academy, and The Epstein School stipulate that all school attire must carry the school logo; Torah Day School of Atlanta does not require uniform logos. Schools also differ in their choices of acceptable colors and styles, and in each school, these colors and styles usually change or expand with more options as students move to higher grades.

There are long-standing rationales for school dress code standards. Torah Day Admissions Director Leslee Morris asserts, “Uniforms in school are a successful way to control student competition in clothing.”

Chaya Mushka grandparent Bernie Idov said he believes “School uniforms help students focus on studies rather than superficialities.” The Epstein School handbook states that uniformity of dress teaches “self-discipline and respect for policies and rules and promotes school pride.”

Parents have many sources in Atlanta for private school clothing. Some families pass down clothing among their own relatives, and another method of recycling is the used clothing sales run by the individual schools. AJA holds used uniform sales at private homes in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Toco Hills, where families drop off items during the school year.

Nadav and Lia Flusberg are dress-code-ready for school at AJA.

Epstein hosts used uniform sales three times a year, during its opening Meet and Greet event and also on teacher-parent conference days. Epstein collects donations at the school and washes clothing before it is offered for resale. WhatsApp neighborhood and parent groups have become popular sources for used uniforms, as well.

Educational Outfitters of Atlanta stocks new uniforms appropriate for all the Jewish day schools, and it is equipped to embroider and screen print logos on all items. The store offers a customized school apparel program and does all decoration and embroidery in- house. When asked to cite a popular dress code item, owner Mark Berger, a former Montessori school principal, notes that “Davis girls love the navy box pleat skirt!” Another option, according to AJA parent Julie Kaminsky, “Lands’ End is a popular brand which can provide logo applications for dress code clothing. Online school uniform sources occasionally offer free logo application and frequently have special sales at the start of the school year.”

Kaminsky, who managed the used uniform sales for AJA for several years, mentions that some brands, such as French Toast – carried by many Atlanta stores – stock boys’ pants with reinforced knees. Families can also find standard blue and white shirts and navy and khaki skirts, jumpers and pants at Macy’s, Walmart, JC Penney, Target and Costco, but these items come without school logos. Families must arrange for logo applications on their own.

Photo by Chana Shapiro // Last Chance Thrift Store in Decatur has a section of school uniforms.

It is possible to find used day school clothing at resale shops, and some of the items have school logos of Jewish day schools. Girls’ apparel in prime condition is much more plentiful than boys’ clothing. Shirts for both sexes, skirts and jumpers are relatively easy to find in desired colors and sizes, but used boys’ slacks in excellent condition are scarce. Prices at resale stores can be less than half the price of on-sale new clothing, but caveat emptor: Buyers must be careful with these purchases because, unlike stores that sell new clothes, resale shops do not offer exchanges or accept returns.

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