Life & Culture

School gate style for mums


Am I alone in finding the whole celebrity yummy mummy thing an intolerable tyranny?

All those celebrity mummies, ironing-board flat tummy three weeks after giving birth, flawlessly made up and attired in Burberry Prorsum or Gucci to deliver little Apple, Cosima or Aurelius, to prep school, while all the real mummies, who don't have a housekeeper, a driver and two nannies on rotating shifts, who struggle to get their kids up, dressed and fed, packed lunches made and little emergencies (like finding escaped hamsters) dealt with, are now also under pressure to look like a domestic goddess by 8.15am.

To give you a little help, we have found some hero pieces; great clothes which, even thrown on with no time and less thought, will make you feel just a bit more yummy, and won't break the household budget.

A relaxed blazer teamed with ankle-skimming trousers, skinny jeans or a skirt/dress, opaques and flat boots, is nicely on-trend yet still almost effortless. And this look will work for a (hopefully) warm September and mild October, before becoming an extra layer for the chillier months. French mail order firm La Redoute, for which Vanessa Bruno creates a collection each season, has well-cut unstructured blazers, at £65; River Island and Warehouse have blazers and low-key tuxedo jackets at under £100.

Knitwear, which is coming through strongly for the season, is a good school-gate buy, especially if it is a statement knit, embellished with alpine, fairisle, blanket checks or animals. Topshop has some sweet little 70s-style sweaters with rabbits, squirrels and dogs (less icky than they sound). Matalan and Peacocks both have good fairisle and alpine knits, while Oasis has some excellent cable sweaters that work well with paperbag/carrot-top trousers.

Fashion and practicality - not normally comfortable bed-fellows - co-exist this season in outerwear, with puffas, padded jackets, parkas and even Barbours very much on-trend, and all sturdy enough to withstand rain, slush and the cold, while still looking stylish. Pick of the bunch include a knee-length padded coat with fur trim by Ted Baker and a nicely hipster belted jacket with fur collar by Bonprix. If you want to splash your cash, look out for Alice Temperley's stunning reworking of the classic Barbour, as well as Barbour's own collection of well-cut, belted jackets in colours other than heritage navy or green (from £189).

Slightly less practical, but still capable of keeping out the chills is a shearling gilet from Warehouse; a sleeveless, hooded leather and shearling waistcoat by Pilot; a military styled pea coat from Ted Baker and, from Topshop, a three-quarter length faux fur jacket.

Hats are hugely important this season and are also a saviour for a harassed mummy being both perfect for hiding a bad-hair day or for protecting you from the rain when you have no hands spare to hold an umbrella. Trilby and fedora are key shapes but if they feel too formal, there are lots of great alpine-knit woolly hats.

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