Our new series looks at how competitive it has become to be a fashionable urban mum. From what you wear and what you give your children to eat at lunchtime to what you plan for playdates and where you go on holiday this is an extreme case of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ often with hilarious results. Each fortnight our mum of two Gia, a feisty former New Yorker, reveals just what it is really like at those school gates, often offering advise and tips on how to survive in the world of designer ankle biters!
The school gates can be more revealing than you think and the way you look tells a lot. Mums are incredibly conscious of their appearance, and those gates – they are the catwalk. Despite the morning school run being one of the most mundane parenting tasks, it is an important moment.
School Run Chic is now a fashion subset of its own. Right there in Vogue next to the LBD. So whether you like it or not, people are seriously considering ‘drop off attire’. How you emerge from the most chaotic time in household sheds light into your household and sets the tone for how you will spend the rest of your day. Once you’ve stepped out of your car, off your bike, or parked your scooter, you have walked out on stage. And the audience is jam-packed with judges.
The Stylish Mum, who is well turned out and mastered the effortlessly put together look, is always groomed beautifully. She can walk, bike or scoot in her flat shoes and her blow dry lasts a few days. She is rarely wrinkled and always has a smart coat. She does her errands around town while maintaining her perfect manicure and arrives on time for pick up and after school activities. We all want to be her. As parents we are all thinking about our parenting. Can we be good mums if we also take the time for personal maintenance? Shouldn’t super mum be rolling in the mud with her kids?
The Working Mum is headed to the office after drop off. She’s up early to get it all together and pulls up to the gates in her Prius. She is conservatively dressed, adding bits of new season trend where applicable. And is asked repeatedly upon entry to school, ‘Have you returned to work?’ Dressed in trousers, blouse, and a mid heel, the answer best be ‘yes!’ Obviously she won’t be back at 11:30 am to help serve refreshments in the hall after the Kindergarten presentation. Or for pick up.
But she’s fulfilled and will be home for bedtime to hear all about the school day.
The Sporty Mum is off to the gym or tennis. Or Pilates or yoga. Or to train for the 10k in Battersea Park. Or Zumba. Does she have nothing else to do all day? Maybe the trainer is hot. She’s fast paced, gets the kids sorted in class and races out on foot. But she begs a fashion question? Is it just easier to put on gym clothes than to think about a suitable outfit? If the perception is that she exercises in between drop off and pick up, she is off the school run chic hook.
Aspirational Mum is trying to fit into the right subculture. She‘s working hard on her signature look. One day she’s heading to Knightsbridge in sky-high stilettos and neon croc Birkin, the next to Ten Pilates and Portobello Market in yoga pants and tie-dye.
Supermodel Mum. Enough. Said.
The competition is fierce. Eventually, it becomes amusing. I quite like keeping everyone on their toes – morphing in and out of Otto Lenghi granola crunch – to powerhouse board director to arts and crafts super mummy.
[main picture credit: Jessica Harris]