Just when you were getting comfy on your summer pool floatie, you hear those three dreaded (yet somehow also blessed) words whispered on the hot July winds: back to school.
Whether you’re gearing up for the little’s perfect, precious, over-’grammed first day of preschool or are back for another year in the elementary school rise and grind, it’s time to start thinking about stocking up on glue sticks and Ticonderoga #2s, and hunting down a curated selection of kids’ graphic tees that signal “I’m likable, yet quirky, and largely potty-trained.”
But let’s be real: no one cares what the kids are wearing. They all essentially look like small versions of any tourist visiting the Grand Canyon at a given moment in their bedazzled tees, knee-length shorts, and hats with ears. Au contraire, the drop-off lane is a time of high fashion and haute analysis when it comes to what your ~lewk~ signals to the other parents about you. The stakes are high. As Madeline put it on Big Little Lies, "Ed, this is the first day of school, we have to earn our good mom badges all over again."
So how will you "build" the perfect school drop-off outfit? Or won't you at all? Will it be No. 6 shearling clogs, or a pair of aggressively casual Crocs? Let's dive deep into your specific scholastic-shuttling style aesthetic, shall we?
Select your handbag from the below:
A. A pseudo picnic situation.
B. A #girlboss tote.
C. Tupperware, but make it fashion.
D. Yeah, that's my bag.
I start the day by...
A. Doing some early-morning yoga. On a lake. (Yes, on.) Then a shower and full salon-quality blowout, in keeping with the “secure your own oxygen mask first” logic. Sometime after that, I remember I have kids.
B. Pretending to sleep while my child chooses their own ensemble. If they can’t dress themselves by now, their life will be an increasing series of disappointments, like my first three jobs working for startups.
C. Jumping into a romper and popping on my daughter’s llama unicorn earrings from Justice. (People always ask if we are sisters, isn’t that funny?) After that, I apply deodorant at the stoplights between home and school. I’m a fun mess!
D. Wrapping myself in a sheet. I accessorize the sheet by throwing on sunglasses and gripping my keys like brass knuckles. The drop-off lane means pants. are. optional.
The 'Sex and the City' character with whom I most identify is:
A. Charlotte. I'm a big believer in putting tasteful accessories on a bad situation.
B. Miranda. I’m not afraid to assert myself, except when it comes to ordering takeout for one.
C. Carrie. I usually just wear my daughter’s tutu or whatever is laying around. I’m so young and quirky!
D. Samantha. People can't size me up if I size them up first.
When dropping my child off for school, I:
A. Park in the designated lot with 20 minutes to spare, and walk hand-in-hand with my child to their classroom, chatting about our dreams, last summer’s vacation to Turks and Caicos, and our favorite flavors of sugar-free gelato.
B. Squeal up to the curb just before final bell (at the front entrance, not the drop-off line, which is slow and poorly organized, and I refuse to participate in it as a result). I remind my kid that just because mommy will for sure be the last parent to pick up in the class again today by a long shot doesn’t mean I love them any less, it just means I’m trying to make partner.
C. Wait on the playground, swinging and trading Pokémon cards with the other kids. Sometimes I wear one of my kid's school uniforms and a LOL Surprise backpack so they'll get that I'm like, one of them. It’s as though we’re all the same age, so young and carefree and definitely not having a mid-life crisis!
D. Will *consider* wearing pants, though I make no guarantees. I work from home, I don't have time for your restrictive social norms!
My go-to weekday outfit is:
A. A linen tent dress with a moto jacket. You know, just thrown together ever so casually! Who has the time?
B. Suiting separates in a bold palette. My style inspo is “Elizabeth Warren dominates a debate at the Cape.”
C. Leggings and a tank top I bedazzled at my kid’s birthday party. The parents weren’t *technically* supposed to participate but you can't sit me in a corner when there's a glue gun around.
D. Socks and a crop top, featured in a long-winded Instagram post about freeing one’s body from the shackles of car culture.
My fashion goals are:
A. To complete my Pandora charm bracelet with a symbolic diamond-encrusted charm representing each precious member of my family. Also more stilettos.
B. To wear colors in the spectrum beyond human vision.
C. Expanding our “mommy and me” collection. I’m just a big kid at heart, and also in the sense that I largely shop for myself at GapKids.
D. To convince the world of the appeal of exposed knees.
But seriously, what is on your feet?
A. Those clogs from that boutique.
B. Platforms, because this is all a power game.
And that concludes today's exam. So what’s your school drop-off style aesthetic? If you answered…
Mostly As: Your drop-off style is Monterey all the way.
Like the moms of Big Little Lies in their cliffside mansions and Balinese wicker bungalows, you’re always cool, collected, and impossibly chic, with spare time, money to burn, and earthware decor that makes other moms seethe with jealousy.
You always put the children first and look amazing doing it in the drop-off line, proving you have totally got it together... or are secretly clinging to an impossible facade of perfection in order to conceal a grievous lie.
Mostly Bs: Your drop-off style is "put-together," and we envy you for it.
What mommy wars? The war has already been won... by your selection of tasteful silk shirts from Everlane, closet of high-waisted pants, and ability to handle PTA entreaties with a curt “the only PTA I’m interested in running is the Pioneering Trailblazer Association — JK, I will select some GIFs for the invitation for the thing, I guess."
Your style says “I will meet you on your level, provided your level has a Tide pen,” because it's not easy looking this ~put-together~ in an age when every piece of the Common Core revolves around painting popsicle sticks onto paper plates.
Mostly Cs: Your drop-off style is exactly what you were wearing in 1997.
You’re only as old as you feel. Unless you feel 7, and then it’s weird. On the plus-side, many of the fashions currently dominating the runways — Swedish sandals that be honest belong on a toddler, sack dresses, and picnic baskets and cabbages used intriguingly as handbags — began with the kid-set. So maybe you're actually ahead of the fashion game. Whatever the situation, you are hands down the most fun parent in the local group, and your parties are the stuff of legend (a Target-themed party are you an actual genius?).
Keep the style, embrace the whimsy... maybe lose the slap bracelets.
Mostly Ds: Your drop-off style is "rogue."
School drop-off is famously where cliques are baked into history like an enviable clay serving platter in a kiln. It is where secret fashion rules are handed out. It's kind of cool that you aren't into all that.
Parenting is hard, and pants are the worst. Wherever you go, just know that fellow parents respect your devotion to wearing whatever the heck you please.