January 20, 2015

The Winter School Run

I find winter provides a whole set of sartorial challenges of it’s own when it comes to dressing for days that for me, include the walk to and from school. But before I get started, lets get a couple of “school gate style” related points out of the way.

Having been involved in a debate some time ago about “dressing up” for the school run and defending my right to do so in this article, I’ve since come to the conclusion that making an effort to look smart/put together/tidy does not turn you into a neglectful, selfish parent by default.

And for me, it doesn’t mean tottering through the village in Jimmy Choos (I save those for London) and a body con dress either, though snaps to you if you can pull this off with aplomb and without falling over.

I like to be able come back after dropping JC off and work from home, wearing something that I feel at least qualifies me to be able to write about style. Should taking pride in your appearance, loving clothes and enjoying wearing them all day, not just at the school gate, make you feel shallow?

Come to think of it, why does what we happen to be wearing for school drop off even need to be an issue?

So… back to what to wear in winter when it’s cold, wet (or both) and you have a still bouncy labrador who thinks nothing of treading all over your feet at least fourteen times before you get to the end of the road…

1 Parka from New Look // 2 Coco shirt – Baukjen // 3 Cashmere beanie by Hush // 4 Baukjen Aria top // 5 High waist jeans – New Look // 6 Boots – Clarks

Layer up and hide inside a parka – preferably one with a bit of faux fur trim. I’m never without my Hush cashmere beanie on most winter days – it hides a multitude of bad hair day sins as well as keeping my ears toasty.

And those Clarks boots would provide the perfect protection are from clumsy dog paws!

1 Raincoat – Topshop // 2 Sweater by French Connection // 3 Lips in Hazard by Topshop // 4 Hush coated jeans // 5 Hunter wellies in black

When it’s raining the outer layer needs to be lightweight and definitely have a hood – umbrellas, child, multiple school bags and a dog don’t mix. This Topshop rain mac caught my eye and is now winging it’s way here via the power of online shopping.

Trusty Hunter wellies are perfect for puddle navigation, coated jeans help keep out the damp and red lipstick brightens a gloomy morning. A fellow mum gave me a big smile and complimented my red lipstick on the school run last week… which made my day.

1 Cashmere scarf – Hush // 2 Essential tank – Baukjen // 3 Biker jacket by Baukjen // 4 Cutler & Gross avaiators – Net-A-Porter // 5 Stripe jumper – Hush // 6 Boyfriend jeans at Marks & Spencer // 7 Superga sneakers at Baukjen

On sunny brighter days (my favourite kind of winter morning), I’m not averse to baring a bit of ankle in some cuffed boyfriend jeans or similar. They don’t freeze on a twenty minute walk.

A cosy scarf, pair of sunnies and a smile are the only accessories needed for days like these.

All three looks can be paired with a cross-body bag leaving you hands free for child and dog wrangling and some of these pieces you probably either already have or would make a worthwhile investment. Laying them out the night before and co-ordinating your bra and pants is of course optional…

What do you think about the school run(way) debate and is it really even a “thing” when where we work is becoming more varied as is what we decide to wear, be it at home or in the office?

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10 comments on “The Winter School Run”

  1. I think the problem with the school runway thing is that it’s typically written in ignorance of issues of class, socioeconomic inequality and gender politics. I don’t disagree with the statement that taking pride in one’s appearance and loving clothes makes people shallow but a lot of the school gate style blogs are written by people from (on the face of it at least) typically safe/secure socioeconomic backgrounds. A lot of the commentary on school gate style probably sticks in the throat of people who really struggle in life to make ends meet, put food on the table, keep their kids warm and safe etc. I appreciate this is a REALLY contentious topic of discussion and feminism needs to be about supporting women from all walks of life to fulfill their potential and not about bashing people for saying or doing certain things. I just think the school gate style stuff gets peoples backs up because its a very middle class way of thinking. This comment isn’t meant to be inflammatory or in any way an attack on what lots of bloggers do – I love your blog Amanda and others like it – I just think there’s a lot of women out there in this country who really really really struggle in life and would read stuff about looking stylish for the school run and feel completely inadequate about themselves. We women are judged far too much in life – by others and by ourselves – and some of the school run style debates have the potential to extend that level of judgement even further. Sorry again if this reads in an inflammatory way – it really isn’t meant that way.

    1. Hi Lou, a really valid point on so many levels – thank you for making it. I’m sure blogs of this ilk and ones that mention school gate and style in the same sentence possibly make people who are struggling to make ends meet feel worse. But am guessing that so many forms of media will also do this?
      At the end of the day it all comes down to judging each other which is what I don’t like – after all judgements are so often made on appearance and can be so way off the mark it’s untrue. It’s as bad to make assumptions about someone who is “well dressed” as it is as someone who is “badly dressed” if you don’t know them and have never spoken to them.
      Am in total agreement with you about women being judged (& judging each other) far too much in life – the older I get, the more I like the “live and let live” philosophy!
      Thanks for reading and commenting as always – so appreciated! x

      1. Hi Amanda!!
        Thanks for your considered reply
        …and to all the other posters below, you’ve definitely got a debate going which is brilliant!
        I totally agree with you on the issue of most media probably inadvertently arousing the *doubt/inadequacy monkeys* in lots of us and I guess a lot of it comes down to how we receive those messages/images and whether we can train ourselves to receive them negatively, positively etc.
        Definitely also agree that it’s as bad to make assumptions about someone who is “well dressed” as it is as someone who is “badly dressed” if you don’t know them and have never spoken to them because appearances can certainly be deceptive. I just sometimes worry that an over promotion of what women might wear on the school run, say for example at the expense of what they might do in terms of their work/caring responsibilities in between school runs, is potentially a little bit damaging and I think we all need to shout out more about our achievements AND our perfectly complimentary love of style/fashion a bit more and make sure the former isn’t obscured by the latter.
        In that vein of thinking, keep up the fantastic work with this blog. I love it because it’s inspirational and aspirational all at the same time and am really looking forward to seeing/reading about the white cotton ASOS Collection shirt dress you’ve ordered. I’ve got my eye on that and am interested to see how you might style/wear it.
        Take care,
        Lou x

  2. I think this is similar to the debate about eating well… I live on a very tight budget (I’m a student) but I don’t see that as a barrier to being stylish or eating really good food. To me, it’s a sport to make my (limited) budget work hard and hunt out bargains – whether food or clothes, or both! When I see a really stylish lady, such as yourself, I am inspired. We all wear clothes, so why not buy something that you feel good wearing, regardless of whether it comes from Tesco, Primark or whatever? As I mentioned in a previous post, you are great at translating high end fashion into high street, Amanda, proving the point that style is not synonymous with being rich. On the other hand, some people are not at all interested in appearance, and fashion doesn’t figure in daily life. Surely that must also be respected? I think it all comes down to personal choice, but also live and let live. xxx

    1. Agreed, agreed agreed Carole!!! I see people who look amazing in anything they put on be it high street or otherwise. Should they be judged? Nope! And you’re right with the food thing and limited budgets. It’s sometimes about how and what you choose to spend your money on and how much time you’re prepared to put in to…well, preparing I guess. Both food and clothes! I’ve been down in the pits where money was concerned once or twice in my past but now I’m able to shop at Waitrose. And so life goes.
      It’s such a personal choice and I don’t berate people for not caring what they wear, school gate or otherwise, so I wouldn’t expect to be berated for caring.
      Ah I do love a good debate. And there was I thinking it was a pointless one! xxx

  3. Hello there – a comment from another friendly ‘Lou’ and can I just say, whilst we are here, that what the first ‘Lou’ wrote does resonate with me. I am acutely conscious that many bloggers write from a well-heeled perspective and frankly have the money to embrace fashion and style in a manner that eludes others less fortunate. I have struggled for a long time to articulate why style and dressing well matters and have written about it often on my blog. It can so easily be discarded as shallow.

    What I notice though is that between the two viewpoints offered on the ‘Parentdish’ blog, where you wrote more fully on this topic, yours was the measured, non-judgemental one. The other I found to be judgemental and somewhat confrontational! Are there women who choose outfits every day? Seriously?!!! Well, err yes we do. Every one does, as last time I checked, women don’t generally leave the house naked. I think (and I show myself as a specific socio-economic group here) that in some school situations, what mothers wear to the school run does matter to their children, to the teachers, to the headmaster, to the headmaster of the school they want their kids to go to next, to anyone who is there at that God-forsaken daily event. Like so many things in life; it’s all part of the game. We are delusional if we believe it isn’t! At all of the schools I have collected my children from (currently 3 very different institutions) this has been the case. This may well, regrettably, be the domain of the private educational system, but I would say for balance that the same judgements have applied in the corporate world that I used to frequent and in most other social circumstances.

    It’s not right, but it’s how it is.

    So, in summary I want to say Amanda, that I am with you. Always have been. Always will be. And if you were on my school run, I would want to be your friend. 🙂

    Lou x

    1. You know me Lou – I’m not confrontational…life is too short! You write so eloquently and have expressed some of the points behind this post so well. Whilst there is a game afoot so often, how much we choose to participate and get caught up in it is down to us. I know so many intelligent amazing women who love clothes, style and dress well etc. Some make a career out of it, some do it just because. Does it mean they’re shallow or spending too much time on themselves at the exclusion of their loved ones? Er no!
      And this evening I may even lay out my undies in rebellion! 😉 xxx

  4. Love those outfits very wearable. Probably most people could put those outfits together out of what they already have in their wardrobes or at least find some substitutes from their wardrobes. I follow your blog and love it. It helps me put together outfits from what I already have and buy items, when I can afford it, that will work with other pieces I have. I feel better when I’m wearing clothes I like. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Gae – so great to hear that the blog provides some inspiration for using things you already have in your wardrobe…thats brilliant! I’m with you…I always feel better when I feel the outfit works! xx

  5. What a great debate and interesting points from all the ladies who have commented. I am in the camp of dressing to please myself and that means wearing something I feel and look good in because I think it’s also good for my mood and self esteem and anything that gives us confidence to tackle the world is a positive.
    I do appreciate that not everyone has the same disposable income but as Gae says the outfits you have put together most of us could create from what we already have. If we are buying clothes – and we all have to at some point – why not choose something that fits well and you feel good in. I do think some women have the “who does she think she is?” attitude towards some one who is well dressed. I did experience this several years ago when a “friend” told me that no-one spoke to me in the playground because I was “over dressed” and therefore wasn’t approachable. But I was on my way to work where it was expected and it really does effect your career, and as Lou pointed out, how you are treated not only at work but by teachers, the bank manager etc. etc.
    We all have issues to deal with and sometimes it’s nice to discuss clothes and makeup rather than the latest problem. I’m with Lou too in that I’d want to be your friend if I saw you on the school run – sadly (or not) mine is just a drive to the school bus stop now so at 7am in the morning when no-one will see me I throw on a pair of jeans and something warm!
    I’m sure this debate will continue but isn’t it good we don’t all think the same way?

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