7 style tips for the school run

Starting school can be an emotional time for all. Especially when you realise you have no idea what to wear to school drop off…


This time six years ago there was a flurry of activity at my place in the lead up to a new school year – the very first year at school for my little-big boy. 

In the lead up to this school year, I’ve re-discovered this article – one of the first written for Fox in Flats – and thought it’d be timely to re-publish for all the women embarking on the school run for the first time. 

Here’s to a happy, cruisy, hug-filled transition for you and your little ones during this awesome and exciting time.

x Andrea


Yesterday, my first-born started school.

In the lead up to this mile stone, I’ve been studying up on school readiness, making lists of ideas for his lunch box,  taken him to the obligatory school inductions, and wandered around the campus ourselves, out of hours, so he is ok with the vibe of the place. I’ve bought uniforms, shoes, lunch boxes, drink bottles, and hats, and had trial runs with all of these. He even got a new hairdo.

For him, yesterday morning was filled with excitement and anticipation about the new adventure that lay ahead.

But for me, yesterday morning, I realised I no idea what to wear.

Now, I know this statement may sound ridiculous to some of you, but think about it…when your kid starts school you meet a whole new bunch of people, some of whom may become lifelong friends. First impressions are gonna count.

Advice from the ‘old hands’.

Luckily for me, I’ve got a couple of buddies who have navigated their way though the fashion landscape of school drop offs and pickups for many years already. These women also took part in our Motherhood and Fashion Survey, and were among the 25% of women who claimed to feel ‘good’ about what they wear to school pick-ups and drop-offs.  They were happy to – very candidly – share their tips:


1. Keep to your regular style.

This is no time to start experimenting with neons or animal print if you are more a chambray and pearls kinda girl.

“Stay true to your own look, because you won’t be able to fake it every day for the next seven years.” offered one mum knowingly.


2. Grab the gym gear.

It is perfectly acceptable to wear your workout clothes for school drop off . “They are the staple for mums at my school” said one.

Another slips into her running clothes two mornings a week – whether she is planning to exercise or not – and admits she does it so she doesn’t have to think about what to wear.


3. Make an effort, but don’t let it look like you have made one.

Keep it simple. Simple hair, makeup, and outfit. Jazz it up with some lip gloss, perfume, a feature accessory and leave it at that.


4. Keep your shoes flat.

It can seem like common sense, but unless you are heading off to work, heels will look like you are trying too hard. This includes high-heeled wedges, apparently.

“Sandals or ballet flats are great, especially if you have to navigate a rugby or cricket oval” claims a mother of two boys who has been there and done that.


5. Sunglasses are practical – in more ways than one.

We all know how a great pair of sunnies can take an outfit from blah to whoo-hah! And given how hot and glarey it is at the moment in Australia, they are really essential.

But, according to one mum, they are also useful for getting the low down on the politics that go down in the playground with the mums. “Hiding your eyes behind your sunnies lets you check out who’s talking with who, and who is friends out of school hours. This can really help when it comes to navigating issues in classrooms or with the PTA”.

Right-o. I might start calling them spy-glasses instead…


6. Consider your knickers.

Gwyneth knows her best parts to flash.

“I avoid flowy skirts or dresses that can blow up in the wind, especially when I’m holding little hands” said one friend.

Another agreed, saying she worried that her dress might get hooked up with the school bags, so she keeps jeans or shorts as her staple.


7. A smile goes a long way.

It is natural to be apprehensive about your little one starting school, and if you don’t know many other parents, you might feel a little like a ‘Nigel No Friends’ yourself.

“Make eye contact with the other mums. Say hi and introduce yourself, and just smile!” said a mother who has gone through it before.

Seems like a genuine smile is the best accessory.


Good luck with your little ones – and with your outfits –  this week.

What tips can you share for the school run?


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  • Pene

    After this mornings run – I remembered (again..) that a bag that can swing across your chest and leave BOTH hands free to juggle their backpack/hat/drinkbottle/pencils etc etc is probably something to consider! Also it means you can squat down, not loose your bag AND give them a humungo squeeze and kiss all at the same time xx

    • Oh I can picture that squeeze now. V. cute x

  • Keep them coming Pene, novice school mums (like me!) need your advice.

  • Pene

    And once again I remembered this little gem – get dressed in your ‘going’ out clothes AFTER you have made school lunches – avocado green smudges on your jeans (discovered whilst already in the car driving) are not the best fashion statement….

  • Ha, this is funny – because when I started to read this I thought “How ridiculous”, but then I realised that I did actually put quite a bit of thought into what to wear for my first school runs this week!
    And I very nearly wore my high-heeled wedges before deciding it might look like I was trying. Flats required, definitely.
    From next week I go back to working so this won’t be an issue – I will be doing the drop off in my work clothes.
    This week so far, I wore cargos and shirt one day, black jeans, t-shirt and long cardi the next. Both my regular weekend style so managed to convince myself (before reading this post!) that I had just thrown stuff on and looked moderately stylish without “any” effort.
    I always wear sunnies outside, always – I squint without them, they are flattering and you can hide behind them while watching what’s going on.

    • Hey Jackie, I thought maybe it was ridiculous as I started to write it too…but boy do those sunnies come in handy! 

  • Re the Elle photo: though she looks fantastic, to me this is a classic image of someone trying very hard to look like they have just thrown something on. A bit contrived!

  • Carli

    Wow, this is so reassuring to know that I am not the only person who has been concerned about what to wear during school drop off. However regardless of what you choose, whatever your style, I still think the most important thing is your smile. A happy face that is ready to greet other Mum’s and their children is a real winner in my books. An ability to remember people’s names is also important and makes a big impression when saying hello to someone. Of course feeling confident is the key and clothes play a huge part in that.

    • You are so right 🙂 😉 🙂

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  • My school run style has changed over the years, since I now work in the city school hours 4 days a week.  The best suggestion is to wear whatever you are comfortable in and feel good in.  If you usually wear Mad Men Retro, dressing down in Gym Chic to fit in will make you feel weird.  I have a penchant for large hair accessories and Mimco quirky jewellery (the madder the better) and I get a few odd looks from time to time.  But I’m much more comfortable being me than wearing something to conform.

    One tip which I love is to swap a hoodie for a cropped 60s style swing jacket.  Equal coverage, equal warmth, but you just look like you’ve made an effort when you so haven’t.  A scarf does the same thing.  I always vote yes to a hair bow too! 🙂

    • Love these tips!
      Tell us more about that cropped swing jacket. Where can we get something like that? Sounds unreal. x

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  • Stacey K

    So pj’s, dressing gown, slippers & bed hair are a no?

    Although I did get away with this when we started the miss & drop just after baby #3 was born. Chuck on a hat & sunnies & hope you don’t get pulled over.

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  • He he.  Since my 4th baby started preschool i have headed straight to the gym after school drop off almost every day or walk the dog, so at least the sneakers = work out, THEN i make more of an effort in the afternoon, showered, dressed & actually hanging around.  My high schooler STILL likes me to get out of the car at drop off & pick up, hug her, help her out of her bag (laptop etc) & i think it’s sweet.  In Canberra we have extreme heat or snow, take your pick with your ensemble. 
    I love your tips as i did wear a circle skirt to school one afternoon & a gust of wind caught me while fiddling with something in the boot, that was fun, such an amateur school run dresser!!  Love Posie

  • Phew – I thought you were going to tell me to go and buy some new things… But I am all covered – apart from the smile… Always have to work on that one! 

    Love your work!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks bbeingcool. I reckon we’ve got enough to buy when our kids start school without adding to the list! x

  • RosiePosie

    I’m a Mum of 4, with only the two bigger ones are at school.  My best advice is always have pockets.  I usually ditch the bag and do the school run with my keys, phone and only sometimes the wallet, mostly because I have a baby on the hip, an eye on the toddler and the two school kids.  In Brisbane it is hot most of the year so my go-to school Mum style is the tailored shorts. I find it is polished but not too over the top.  And of course, there are nice pockets for your keys and phone!

    • FoxInFlats

      That’s a great tip there Rosie! x

  • RosiePosie

    I’m a Mum of 4, with only the two bigger ones are at school.  My best advice is always have pockets.  I usually ditch the bag and do the school run with my keys, phone and only sometimes the wallet, mostly because I have a baby on the hip, an eye on the toddler and the two school kids.  In Brisbane it is hot most of the year so my go-to school Mum style is the tailored shorts. I find it is polished but not too over the top.  And of course, there are nice pockets for your keys and phone!

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  • Oh dear

    Do people actually think about this stuff? Really? I can’t imagine having so little to think about that I could occupy myself with that level of irrelevance. This blog is like an anthropological study in a hopefully soon-extinct tribe of underoccupied housewives.