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Dressing for the Drop-Off: Here's What 9 Real Moms Wear to School

Being a mom means always feeling slightly frazzled, right? Still, where I live in Brooklyn, morning drop-off can sometimes feel like a runway, with parents arriving decked to the nines in everything from Rag & Bone to Clare V. And while I haven’t gone full-on fashionista, I have found that feeling put-together can be simple: A pair of oversized sunglasses, a Chelsea boot, even a luxe-looking coat is a confidence boost on days when, let’s be real, I had 4.5 minutes to get dressed.

But I wondered: How did other moms approach this slightly crazy, slightly euphoric time of day? Were they hitting up the carpool line in their jammies or strutting through the Pre-K gates in mink and Louboutins?

I decided to go to the source—nine mamas from across the country, caught in their actual school-drop-off uniforms.

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Courtesy of Dominique

Dominique: Graphic Tees & Slip Ons
New York, Mom of a Kindergartner

“My drop-off style truly depends on what’s going on for me after dropping my son off. Some days I’m wearing a full-out workout set, other days I'll rock a matching sweatsuit or knit set like this one. I've also just started going back to the office so there are days where my look will reflect that, but I have to wake up around 5:30 a.m. to pull this off. Most days, my goal is to be able to go directly to a coffee shop afterward and not look like the struggle I've been through getting an opinionated 5-year-old out of the door. Lately, I've been really into graphic tees, cargo pants, and anything that easily slips onto my feet.”

Courtesy of Julie

Julie: Patterns & A Return to Civilization
Maryland, Mom of a 2-Year-Old in Full-Time Daycare

“Our daughter was born in March 20202 and that experience of pandemic parenting—living in leggings, never going anywhere, keeping her home and safe for a year—made me obsessed with real clothes and civilization. Our morning routine now is fairly seamless and only takes about 20 to 25 minutes, so I have time to pick something fun and even try on multiple options if my daughter wants us to match. And while I’m not much for makeup or hair styling during the weekday mornings, I do try to reach for patterned pants, an interesting jumpsuit or cute athleisure. I don’t want to be too impractical, but I do want to feel confident, even if I’m just returning home to work alone in my home office.”   

Courtesy of Elisa

Elisa: Comfort & Adaptability
New York, Mom of a Kindergartner & 8-Month-Old

“My signature style each day is an attempt at fashion, but comfort is a must. As a small business owner, I wear many hats and therefore have many variations in my wardrobe, depending on the day. Do I need to meet with clients or media that day? Or do I need to be ready to jump in and teach a class? My routine is always frazzled—I'm not a morning person, but having kids forces you to have early mornings every day! I spend anywhere from 10-30 minutes getting ready in the morning and how put together I look is directly correlated to how chaotic my morning routine was.”

Courtesy of Lauren

Lauren: Dresses & Sneaks
Colorado, Mom of a Preschooler

“My style depends on if I’m working from home or going into the office. If I’m virtual that day, I usually wear a nicer top/sweatshirt with leggings and sneakers and throw on a headband. If I’m going into the office, I dress up more. Usually, a dress or nice top with dressier jeans or black pants. Most of the time, I like to say mornings feel calm, but it’s so dependent on my child’s mood. I give myself about half an hour to get ready while my daughter watches a show and eats her breakfast.”

Courtesy of Hitha

Hitha: Baseball Caps & Oversize Shirts
New York, Mom of a Preschooler and Second Grader

“I aspire to be one of those women who looks polished and professional and wearing that day-to-night look that women's magazines made me believe would be a priority in my life. In reality, I throw on a workout set, a baseball cap, and an oversized shirt—a white button down if I have to hop on a video call right after drop-off, or a cozy sweatshirt if I'm not. Our mornings are calmly chaotic. I wake up 30 minutes before the kids do to meditate and practice yoga, and then I leave my phone in the room while I'm getting the kids up and dressed and fed and dropped off. I rarely get around to drinking my coffee while the boys are eating breakfast, so it comes with me for drop-off. I spend about 5 minutes getting ready in the morning. I throw on my clothes, apply sunscreen and that's it!”

Courtesy of Laura

Laura: Color & Accessories
Florida, Mom of a Fourth Grader and Seventh Grader

“My daily style is colorful, and usually comfortable, but with some polish! I love dresses and tend to wear them on most days since they work for drop-off and can transition straight to the office. I normally pair dresses with a cardigan or jean jacket because I get cold in my office, and it usually elevates my dresses to a more professional level. I always accessorize with rings, earrings and a necklace (or two), and if I have time, I'll pick out some bracelets to coordinate. My mornings are usually hectic getting both children and myself ready, so I try to plan ahead and pick out my outfit the night before. I usually spend about 45 minutes getting ready, but it is often interrupted by other things, and lots of ‘Mom, I need help!’”

Courtesy of Elsa

Elsa: Business Casual & Crocs
California, Mom of a Preschooler

“My drop-off style is a mix of business casual, leisure and athleisure because I work from home most days. I try to keep my morning routine calm, but often it involves a lot of delays so I'm usually trying to be patient while also getting a move on things. I probably spend about 10 minutes actually getting ready for myself.”

Courtesy of Jerica

Jerica: Neutrals & Ease
Pennsylvania, Mom of a Preschooler and Two Kids in Full-Time Daycare

“My morning routine can best be described as quick and efficient. I aim to get all three kids up, dressed, fed and out the door in the shortest amount of time possible because any extra time just leads to the inevitable lost shoe or mini meltdown. This means that I have about 5 minutes to get myself dressed and mildly presentable while they're busy eating. I usually toss on a pair of joggers and a tee or sweater that reads "casual but not sloppy" for my virtual work meetings and throw my hair into a ponytail. Thankfully 90% of my wardrobe is neutrals so most everything goes together. My drop off vibe is: the kids made it here in one piece and I changed out of PJs!  I work from home, so once I get back from drop off, I can pour my coffee, do something more with my hair and makeup and take a long, deep breath.”

Courtesy of Katie

Katie: Functional & Waterproof
Amsterdam, Mom of a Kindergartner & Pre-Kindergartner

“In the Netherlands, commuting by bike is the norm and drop-off is no exception. I take my kids to and from school in an electric “bakfiets” or bucket bike, so function always comes first with my style. Oh, and whatever I wear will also need to be waterproof. We are notoriously famous for our rain here in Amsterdam, and while my kids will be safe and dry under the bike’s rain cover, I absolutely won’t be so lucky!”

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