Every now and then my children’s school allows the children the chance to go to school in something other than their manmade-fibre shirts and indestructible nylon blazers – and, strange creatures that they are, the children leap at the chance.
But, to be fair, so do I: for a start, non-uniform day means DS is generally out of bed and dressed by 6.05am without me having to chase him around the kitchen shouting ‘you’re going to school in your pyjamas if you don’t get dressed right now. We are leaving NOW!’, which is the way things tend to pan out most mornings.
And the other thing I like about non-uniform day is seeing all the little outfits the children are sent to school in. Bear in mind we’re not talking teenagers here, but the Infants – kids aged three to seven – many still small enough to wear what Mummy tells them to.
Every non-uniform day we tend to get a few recurring categories:
The Flower Girl – The Flower Girl comes in full Monsoon silk regalia: a flouncy, tiered dress in cream or baby pink; dainty white socks with a lace turn-over, and jewelled bridesmaid shoes. Butter wouldn’t melt. I do try to check out the same girls again at pick-up, just to see how those frocks look after a carton of orange juice and a hammering in the sandpit.
The Wedding Guest – The Wedding Guest differs from the Flower Girl in that her dress sparkles: you can barely see the bright yellow, blue, green or red nylon of the dress under the heavy layer of lace, sequins and diamanté. Hell, turn the lights out in the science lab and this poor girl would probably glow in the dark. You’ll find her crying quietly by the swing: the 25 layers of stiff netting that keep the skirt levitating prevent her from climbing on, poor lamb.
The Call Girl – Surprisingly common on girls aged five and six, this look involves a black boob tube or spaghetti strap vest from Justice, a tight, animal-print mini skirt, bare legs, glittery high heels (or, shudder, knee-high boots), lashings of cheap jewellery from Claire’s and a smudge of eyeshadow. I’m not saying anything. I’m not.
The Tomboy – A t-shirt, cut-off shorts or a skirt, Crocs. Perfect for playtime.
The European – I felt I should add this category having noticed over the years how beautifully many of the European mums dress their children (by that I mean French, Spanish, Italian). Beautifully made, simple dresses in cottons and linens for the girls; nicely cut shirts and long shorts for the boys, and luscious-looking leather sandals for both; sometimes a hat. Easy, stylish, age-appropriate and cool.
The Superhero – Whether it’s Spiderman, Batman, Ben 10 or any of those other characters I’ve never heard of, a superhero t-shirt and long shorts is the only look for boys aged five and six. Unless they belong to European parents, of course, who’d rather choke slowly to death on their espressos than purchase a superhero t-shirt from Carrefour.