For students at the Portland Waldorf School, plain dressing is the norm. The dress code at their private K-8 school not only forbids belly-baring tops and sagging pants but also bans all clothes with logos, images, photos, jazzy patterns, garish colors, or offensive words.
"Our dress code insists on clothes that are easy to move around in, nonrevealing, and not full of references to pop culture or corporate brands," says Maya Muir, outreach coordinator for the school. "This helps to create a haven for the students where they can be less self- and status-conscious, and can concentrate on their work at hand."
In the past year, a growing number of schools and school districts, public as well as private, have instituted no-logo clothing policies. For some schools, particularly those in high-crime districts, the concern is to limit colors and symbols that may signal gang affiliation.
But in some suburban districts and private schools, the ban on logos has less to do with crime and more to do with concerns about exposing students to excessive commercialization.
It's a discomfort that has gained further currency through the popularity of a couple of recent books. Naomi Klein, author of the book "No Logo," shows, step by step, how name brands have become increasingly pervasive, not just in the media and on the street, but increasingly in schools as well. Her sentiments are echoed by economist Juliet Schor, author of "Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture."
At the Portland Waldorf School, Ms. Muir also worries about the connection between electronic media and ads and logos on clothing. As a general policy, the school discourages parents from allowing students - especially younger children - to absorb too much TV or play too many video or computer games at home. Teachers at the school say such activities leave kids with short attention spans and a desire to be constantly entertained.
"The dress code is a similar issue," says Muir. "Often the logos or pictures on kids' clothes refer to media figures."
Some schools have developed very specific codes about what students can and cannot wear.