So you've spent the last six weeks cruising the mall for the perfect teeny tiny jeans, the most scrumptious sweaters, absolutely adorable skirts and jumpers (with matching tights of course), polo shirts, rugby shirts, cargo pants, shoes, trainers, boots and wellies in all colors and styles so your little darling will be the best dressed preschooler/kindergartner/grade schooler in the history of his/her scholastic institution. (Note: we won't even talk about middle school or high school because by the time they hit that age they have very definite ideas about what back-to-school attire they will deign to wear, and it usually means exposing vast amounts of prepubescent midriff and other burgeoning body parts in skimpy revealing lingerie (excuse me, but don't they require these girls to put a blouse on over said lingerie?) or advertising which brand of underwear they favor while the crotch of their pants hovers four inches above the ground (what ever happened to cute preppy boys in blazers and chinos?) and I refuse to even think about it. By the time my children reach that stage I hope everyone is wearing one-piece jumpsuits like Star Trek always said we would. I'm totally rethinking the entire school uniform issue. But I digress..
So, your little one may have a stylish book bag brimming with nifty school supplies, but don't think that your back-to-school shopping is done and you are off the hook. No Sir-ee Bob, you have forgotten the single most important tenet any fashionista mamacita must adhere to: Back-to-School-Mom-Wear.
Case in point: I'll never forget my son's first day of preschool. He looked absolutely adorable in his jeans and 'copter shirt, hair all shiny, face full of smiles with his snack all packed away in his mini backpack (along with his favorite teddy). We were running a tad behind schedule (does that surprise you?), and when we pulled into the parking lot most of the other children and their moms were walking up the sidewalk and into the entrance courtyard. This was when I realized that my sweatpants (not Juicy, not fashionable, not even very clean) and t-shirt with jam smeared on the hem were not deemed appropriate preschool-drop-off-attire. All of the other moms looked like they had just stepped off the pages of a Ralph Lauren ad—stylish jeans, crisp white blouses, and adorable flats, or chic skirts, girly tops and über-stylish wedges. They all had fabulous tote bags (not the freebie from a Spiegel subscription). I quickly tucked my jam-stained hem into the waistband of my sweats (great, now I looked like my great-aunt Mildred), pasted on a brave smile, took my little guy by the hand and joined the style mavens and their offspring. We tearfully waved our little ones through the front door and while the trendy moms mingled in the courtyard and made plans to repair to the café
around the corner for bagels and cream cheese, I made my excuses, "Just on my way to the gym!" and fled (in flip flops) to my car.
My good friend, Whitney the Wondermum (with twins in kindergarten, a toddler and a babe on the way she has earned the title) admitted to feeling like a walking frumpfest on her twins' first day of preschool also. She says that she learned her lesson early on, so when it was time for their first day of kindergarten she was fully prepared to join the 'kaffee klatsch' in front of the school—fashionably dressed, stylishly coiffed, and freshly glossed. (She also admitted to rising at 5:30 a.m. to achieve such wonderment.) Whitney insists that you owe it to yourself and to your child to put your best face/fashionable foot forward when you drop them off at school. (Have vague frightening flashback to mom dropping me off at school while wearing flowered housecoat, sponge rollers and ratty slippers, then running out of gas in school parking lot. Pretended that she was neighbor kids' mom.) The other chi-chi moms will welcome you as one of their own, and your child will be invited to all the tony birthday parties. The teachers and school personnel will treat you with respect. The clueless moms in sweatpants and jam-stained tees will look at you with awe. Whitney says it totally made her day when she overheard one of her daughter's little friends say, "Your mommy is so pretty, and she smells like flowers. My mommy only wears lipstick on Halloween and Easter…and she smells like bacon."
Have determined that I will not be sweatpants-that-have-never-seen-the-gym/jam-stained t-shirt mom. Will be fresh, fashionable and frequently on-time mom. (Schools frown heavily on tardiness.) Will immediately implement following plan:
- Acquire fashionable school-drop-off apparel: comfortable yet stylish trousers and capri's (weather still warm here). Trendy skirts with chic slingbacks. Blouses and smart tops till weather turns brisk, then soft sweaters and toasty jackets. Acquire new must-have jeans.
- Sweat suits are acceptable if they are a) chic, coordinating and clean; b) actually on their way to the gym; and c) paired with trendy trainers. Same applies to tennis dresses. Note to self: use anti-cellulite cream regularly. Work on UADD (under arm dingle-dangle). Sweat suits and exercise-wear are usually considered "Plan B" attire (to be explained later).
- Lay out all clothing previous evening. This includes any items of apparel/footwear that little ones will need. (Two birds with one stone concept.) Have suitable alternative attire choices in case of accidental jam/juice spillage.
- Set alarm clock AND snooze alarm to allow ample time for beautification. If, by chance there is a power outage or someone turns off the snooze alarm, this is when Plan B goes into effect. Suit up in exercise wear (must be clean, must be stylish, must coordinate), slick hair into fashionable ponytail or tuck your locks under a chic cap, powder your nose, gloss your lips and don your designer shades (no one will know you have on zero makeup). As penance for sleeping in (who turned off the snooze alarm after all?) and since you are already attired for it, go for a brisk walk or jog in the park—guaranteed pick-me-up!
- Keep roomy tote stocked with items deemed essential for my own/my child's continued well-being while away from home for an hour (or three—we fashionista stylish moms often end up at a nearby noshery dunking biscotti and discussing world trade issues…or who has the best 'curist). Items of necessity: Travel-sized tissue and wet-wipes, extra snacks, extra under-bunders (child's, not mine—I have been potty-trained for quite some time, except when eight months pregnant or when I sneeze within three months of having given birth), hand lotion, nail file and lip gloss.
- Keep a case of bottled water, a couple of 12-packs of single-serve Juicy Juice and mini boxes of raisins and graham crackers in car at all times (Can never remember when it is my turn to be the snack mom).
That should get us started (notice how skillfully I have incorporated you into my scheme). I'll soon be the most chic and stylish mom at the drop-off area, especially when I have lost 15 pounds—I swear I am going to start a sensible eating (never say 'diet') plan as soon as I finish off the bag of Dove chocolates in my nightstand drawer—and the two Krispy Kremes in the breadbox. Happy mom-wear shopping!