If you ask me...I'd never heard of 'school gate chic'

I always thought getting the kids to school on time was the issue, not whether you're wearing pyjamas under your Chloe coat. I'm a schmuck, a fool, an idiot

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, or were to ask me, if I’d been hiding under a rock all these years, do you know what I’d say? I’d say “Yes, I have been hiding under a rock all these years”, and I’d then thank you for pointing it out, and for saving me from yet further embarrassment.

The fact is, until this week, when newspapers and magazines suddenly became full of it, I had no idea that “school-gate chic” was a thing. Not a clue. I always thought getting the kids to school on time was the issue, particularly on those mornings when, just as you’re about to step out the door, they’d announce: “I have swimming”, or “I have to dress as my favourite book today!” I’m a shmuck, a fool, an idiot. Get a gun and shoot me now. May be the kindest thing, in the long run.

That said, though, I am learning. I am. I have read up on “school-gate chic” and I have read about Holly, mother to six-year-old Grace, who attends “a little prep school” and according to Holly: “Seriously, what you wear says whether you want to get involved in school life... it’s a huge deal. I’m not going to show up in my pyjamas, even if they are under a Chloé coat. It’s all about showing I care and value the system.”

I don’t own a Chloé coat, or anything like it, but can you imagine if I did? Can you imagine how many times I’d have worn pyjamas under it? Loads, I bet. And I’d have turned up and everyone would have thought: “Pyjamas under a Chloé coat! She may make sure her kids do their homework and she may belong to the PTA and she may be spearheading the campaign to keep the school kitchens and local library open, but pyjamas under a Chloé coat! She obviously doesn’t give a shit!”

Advice abounds. One mother says she keeps it “low-key” with “a cashmere roll neck and black coated jeans or leather trousers”, while no mother says: “I like to dress up as a deranged clown, complete with those big comedy shoes”, which seems a great pity somehow.

Whatever, I do wish I’d known all this earlier; that the school gate is all about judging and being judged. And I certainly wish I’d known it when I once saw a mother at my son’s inner-city state primary drop off the kids, lift her skirt, and then wee in the gutter. I’m kicking myself now because I didn’t ask whether the skirt in question was one of the favoured “school-gate chic” brands, which are, apparently, Hobbs, Whistles, Miu Miu, Chloé and Jigsaw. Now I’ll never know. Damn, damn, damn.

Twitter: @deborahross