I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time – some might say, time better spent, I don’t know, helping the kids organize their desks – thinking about what I’m going to wear. I’m not a total slob, but I think I’m probably hit or miss at best. Some days, it’s a what-not-to-wear affair, while there have been occasions when someone actually compliments my outfit with some degree of believability.
But, there are a few occasions I’ve done enough times (like 79 parent-teacher conferences, and no, I didn’t just make that up, there was math) that I have a sense of what works. Here are my idea
Bus stop/Drop off
When you are leaving the kids at school or the bus stop, and they are small enough that you must escort them (and frankly, even if you don’t: there’s always the forgotten lunch box or flat tire you might have to leave the car to tend to), I have a really sneaky trick. Instead of wearing pajamas to bed, wear your workout gear. You can leave the sports-bra off until morning if you like, but please use lots of layers if you are going without. I don’t think any teachers/ other parents are actively looking at how much sleep might be in your eyes, but I know that leggings and a zippered hoodie leave the impression you might be heading out for a jog next. Owl pajama bottoms and fuzzy slippers do not. And this is one of those times no one will buy fuzzy slippers are an ironic gesture.
Coffee with friends or a meeting of a school committee
You might think that the old workout gear pajama trick would work again, but that’s not true. When you are a mom, your children’s friends’ parents are your colleagues. Treat it with a degree of respect. Definitely brush your teeth AND hair. As for a good ensemble, here is my step-by-step instruction. You can figure out undergarments, but after that, I recommend jeans and a tank top tucked in to avoid any unintended behind exposure. For some reason, I can’t get a pair of jeans that doesn’t slide down my butt at an alarming rate as the day goes on. A friend clued me in that the Old Navy Perfect Fit tanks are crazy long and never leave you hanging out. I would wear a button down shirt over that and maybe some earrings if you an swing it. And finally: a seasonally appropriate scarf.
I can’t say how much a scarf does for looking like you thought about your appearance that day. And in my experience, a 13-year-old daughter’s closet is an excellent source for all kinds of scarves.
Of course your best accessory would be your husband, or someone else who can remember what the teacher said exactly. But as far as your actual outfit, this is what I do. Start with the same nice jeans and modesty guaranteeing tank top. Add a top that doesn’t make you look pregnant and shows absolutely no cleavage. Add something smart looking, like a corduroy blazer or a pair of glasses if you don’t already wear them. Also, this is the day to absolutely wash and style your hair.
Back to School Night
If you are new, go with the parent-teacher look for sure. If you’ve been around and other parents are looking to see who has hit the old lady wall, this might be the night to wear heels or a little make-up. Park far enough away that you can primp in the car away from prying eyes, but not so far that you’ll wrench your ankle on those heels.
The fundraising gala
Some people talk about not dressing up for the school fundraiser, but that’s bunk. Probably an adult mean girl trying to be the prettiest at the party. Some women might wear palazzo pants even. Terrible mistake. Get your little black dress out, your fake Louboutins (what, you don’t have any?) and use a lot of mascara. If your school gets the bright idea to have an Alma Mater School Spirit theme, God help you. One is coming up at my school and I could use a pointer.
If there’s one thing I hope you take away from this post, it’s not to wear palazzo pants. Okay, not really. Its’ that no matter how ill-prepared you actually are, you don’t have to look like it!