If there’s anything worse than remortgaging your home in exchange for new school uniform, it’s remortgaging your home in exchange for new school uniform which never gets worn. Cheers COVID. Speaking of uniforms, if you’re new to the school gates, it’s mandatory to acquaint yourself with the obligatory school run outfit…
It’s not what you think. It’s not (for most of us) about outdoing each other, or even keeping up with the Joneses. Nope. Whilst the antithesis of what we’re taught to do both at work and in social situations, new parents must learn to be chameleons. Why? Because by the time we make it to the school gate, most of us are not exactly looking our best…
School Run Outfit Etiquette For New Parents
There’s an art to seamlessly blending into obscurity, and it’s one that we must acquire quickly and deploy regularly. With execution critical to success, I’ve put together a quick masterclass for the uninitiated…
We’ve all been there: the baby is being demanding and washing day has been and gone – without any washing actually taking place. Next day dawns, and like the awkwardness of forgetting to pack your child’s coat during monsoon season, you realise you’ve nothing clean to wear…
This isn’t, embarrassingly, even that rare – it’s a rite of passage for new parents and happens more frequently than we’d care to admit. The solution? Ensure all clothes are so similar that nobody can tell them apart, thereby confusing them as to whether you’re wearing a clean-on-but-now-dirty version of yesterday’s filthy clothes; or, in fact, yesterday’s filthy clothes…
It’s recommended to also become adept at quickly scanning (the washing pile beside) the basket for the least creased, least soiled items.
Where once the very notion of leaving the house with a tiny toothpaste stain on our new cashmere jumper left a funny taste in our mouth, post-baby we plummet to depths we could never have envisaged…
Vom stain? Standard – and if it passes the sniff test, we’re good to go. Wee water-tide? Totally fine, nobody will ever know. Poo mark, hastily scrubbed at with a wet-wipe and just about passing for Generic-Baby-Food? Meh, whatevs.
Fraught, dishevelled, and unkempt: what we once deemed classless, we now proclaim obligatory. And the great thing is that because we’re all doing it, we’re each doing our bit to camouflage one another. There’s no ‘I’ in team.
3. Face Masks Are Your Friend
Not everybody is keen on face masks, but the way I see it you can totally use them to your advantage.
A mask plus dark sunglasses means you can both remain anonymous, and avoid talking. For anybody who’s an introvert like me, that’s a win-win. Especially after getting up with baby (or preschooler in my case) multiple times during the night.
4. Keeping It Professional
This is when our true genius shines through: the revolving work door is to parents what the telephone box was to Clark Kent: go in a slovenly wreck, and emerge as a (mostly) passable colleague. Caffeine and lots of under-eye concealer make this transformation possible.
…But scrutinise closely enough, and you’ll find your tribe from the telltale sign of sticky fingerprints or errant glitter particles on their bottoms.
Don’t be disheartened if this is you, we’ve all been there and got our badges (stains) of honour.
School Run Style For Veteran Parents
For those of us with older kids, comes a new sense of style. We tend to go one of several ways…
1. Gym Bunny Mum
This mum is always in her gym clothes and usually looks fab regardless. Is she on her way to the gym right now, or does she not own any other attire? Nobody is sure, but we all want to be her friend.
2. Trendy Mum
She’s the one who looks immaculate every day, even though when she leaves the playground she’s only popping to the supermarket or Costa. She has a fantastic wardrobe and is a pro at applying flawless make-up. We don’t know how she does it, and we want to be her.
3. Über Professional Mum
Similar to Trendy Mum, Über Professional Mum never has a hair out of place. A tiny bit intimidating in her power dressing suit, we’re all in awe. She wears big glasses, bold lipstick, and the most dazzling smile you’ve ever seen. We’re never entirely sure if such a wide smile at this ungodly hour can be genuine; either way we really want to be its focus.
4. Relaxed Mum
Relaxed Mum is usually in comfy jeans and a jumper, and so chill you can’t help but soak up her happy vibes simply by being around her. Totally serene, yet expertly in control – nothing can fluster Relaxed Mum. She leaves us all feeling zen and ready to face the day.
5. Quirky Mum
You’re never sure what Quirky Mum is going to rock up wearing. Will it be an authentic vintage piece, the latest fashion craze, or slouchy trousers and jumper? Her style is eccentric, but we can’t help but admire her unique style and fun attitude.
6. Cold Mum
This is very possibly most of us. Cold Mum is rarely seen out of a winter coat, hat and scarf, the latter often pulled up past her nose. Cold Mum is delighted that face masks are almost like a legitimate balaclava for all weather conditions.
7. Office Dad
Often looks harassed whilst fielding phone calls as he rapidly drops and dashes. Flashes smiles at all and usually looks mortified. Bless him.
8. Cool Dad
The Dad we all wish we’d had as kids. Laid back, everyone’s mate, happy to join in coffee mornings with the mums. We all secretly think he’s cute but would never say so because it’s a bit sexist and might spoil the dynamic.
9. Building Site Dad
Perfect posture. Stands tall with his arms folded. Slightly aloof. But a teddy bear if you brave speaking to him.
If you don’t recognise yourself in the above list then it’s possible you’re still clinging to your ‘new parent’ style. Honestly, can’t blame you – leggings and a baggy jumper are so comfortable, they’re not easy to give up. May also include last week’s still unwashed bra (or no bra at all – I applaud you), and unbrushed hair pulled up in the obligatory mum-bun.
(Whichever parent you are, if you don’t wear an aura of one part adoration, two parts stress wafting around you each morning like perfume, then you are not one of my people. But I will be hugely in awe of you.)
The Very Best School Run Outfit
I might nauseate you a little bit now, and I’m not even sorry for it.
The best school run outfit is whatever you’re comfortable in, plus a smile.
An open and friendly face will go a really long way to reassuring those who are struggling in some way, it will open up possibilities of connection by making you seem approachable, it will help everyone around you feel that little bit more positive, and it will help your child go happily into school, which also helps their teachers.
It’s also a lifeline to the new parents who may have little to know other human contact all day, and are very likely feeling extremely overwhelmed with life right now. We all remember it well, right?
Most of all, when it comes to smiling, it really is a case of ‘fake it till you make it‘: smiling will make you feel better too.