Style 101: How To Look Like a Total Loser at School Pick-Up

The half-yearly holidays are crawling to their blessed end and it’s back to school this week. Regular visitors will know that my son started kindergarten at the beginning of this year, so I’ve spent the last six months fine-tuning my school-pick up style.

That signature style is not something that can be mastered in the first week. The evolution of my fashion palette has been fascinating to watch: from the early clumsy attempts at dressing like I was going to a job interview, to the drab hoodie and jeans combo that characterised the end of term two, when I finally realised that no one gave a shit about what I was wearing. Least of all me.

In hindsight, trying hard to not look like a total loser was a massive waste of time anyway, because I’ve made the sum total of ONE new friend in the first two terms of school.

Style tip: don’t hand out your business card as a casual strategy to hook up with other school mums, because they will take one look at your blog and decide that your kid is suddenly not desirable playdate material any more.

(No, really. I kid you not. That ingenius little strategy has netted me a whopping 0% success rate so far. #awkward. Even more #awkward if those same people are still blog-stalking me in absentia)

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In the 12 months before my kid started school I had this whole positive manifestation thing going on. I would visualise myself as this shit-hot blogger, sauntering through the school gates (5kg lighter, of course), effortlessy dressed in the hipster threads of a shit-hot writer: casual but edgy, low-key but kick-ass.

Fast forward 18 months: I’m still 5kg heavier than I ought to be, I’m not the shit-hot writer of my endorphin-inflated fantasies and my wardrobe is less edgy than it is daggy. I’ve managed low-key, but I’m closer to lame-ass than kick-ass.

My five year old still thinks I’m super-cool, but this is a kid who gets OTT excited about a new roll of sticky tape or a trip to the petrol station to fill up the car, so he’s not my most unbiased source of critique.

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So, after six months of rethinking and refining my style strategy, here are the winning school pick-up combos. I call it Postmodern Tracksuit Chic. You too can look this good for less than $300.

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1. Grey Hoodie

I am definitely a 50 Shades of Grey kind of gal, but it’s not the kind of sexy you think it is.

50 Shades of Grey describes the lacklustre contents of my unsexy wardrobe: a flair-free zone full of wash-faded t-shirts, charcoal hoodies, ash-grey tracksuit pants and slate-coloured jeans. There’s plenty of grey-on-grey action in my bedroom.

2. Running shoes 

Scientifically-proven* to burn 42% more calories as I schlepp around with the other bored-looking parents at the school gates.

*According to peer-reviewed studies from the Garnier Laboratories. 

3. Grey Tracksuit Pants

On the days I’m feeling super-pumped I will pull on a pair of tracksuit pants instead of jeans. It sounds counter-intuitive I know, but it sets my intention to possibly think about doing exercise at some point during the day. The tracksuit pants serve the dual function of 1) ass-kicking fitness inspo and 2) circumnavigating my laziness by ensuring that I am at least partially-dressed for exercise if the opportunity for exercise ever happens to present itself. It’s aspirational. And comfy.

4. Ripped jeans

All my jeans have holes in them them these days, not because it’s some kind of deconstructionist fashion statement but because I’m forever down on my hands and knees: crawling around for countless pieces of lego, cleaning up puddles of piss around the toilet or kneeling down to negotiate with tantrumming toddlers. I NEVER ripped though denim before I had kids. Now it’s fucking de rigeur.

5. Neon Yellow Sunglasses

It is often said that nothing in life is certain other than death, taxes and Kanye West’s next self-congratulatory statement of braggadocio. I can add one other weary inevitability: my good sunglasses always get lost or broken, while the shitty back-up pairs I keep in reserve seem to have the half-life of radioactive waste.

I paid 50 cents for these hideous yellow sunglasses at the op shop one day because I’d left my good pair at home. My husband calls them my “Corey Worthington sunglasses” and at least one of the other school mums has mentioned them in jest, which is clearly code for “You look like a total dick in those glasses”. They never die. And they always seem to be the only fucking pair I have in the car at 3pm.

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6. Bum Bag

If there is one signature item that defines my everyday style, it’s the bum bag. Definitely a hero piece, it causes lively debate wherever I go. Hot or Not? Opinion is pretty evenly divided on this one, but if this recent shot is any indication then the bum bag is back, baby. Fanny packs and massive tits are like Chanel suits: they never go out of style.

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So there you have it: Hugzilla’s school pick-up style. Scrape that greasy hair back into a messy mugshot ponytail and you’ll be rocking that little bit of glamour at big school.

98 thoughts on “Style 101: How To Look Like a Total Loser at School Pick-Up

  1. This is how I roll! Last Friday I wore trackies and a hoodie for drop off and pick up. I didn’t think anything of it until someone (cough, Sasha, cough) mentioned how embarrassed she was going to her mailbox in trackies…oh.
    Did you really give out your business card?? Bahahaha I have done that once or twice too but I did pick up a friend out of it. She probably felt bad for me after reading for my simple ways and poor grammar. 🙂

  2. YOU DO NOT!!! A bum bag? You are shitting me right? Unless it has an epi-pen in it then we need to talk! Love this post. As for blogging, I know a few mums have started reading mine, trust me it’s probably nicer being incognito! x

  3. I am quite sure that you are bringing the bum bag back. I just know it. At school today, every single mum (including me) was rocking some kind of jeans, long boots, jumper, jacket and scarf combo. Some of us had beanies. Because when it’s 12 degrees in Brisbane, it’s freaking freezing.

  4. Love it. As always. You had me at ‘Postmodern Tracksuit Chic’, but you had me forever at ‘Kanye West’s next self-congratulatory statement of braggadocio’.

  5. This post appeals to me on many levels, mostly because I’m not the only loser who has managed a less than 1% return on attempts at making friends with the other parents a pick-up. And whilst I’ve clearly missed a Kardashian style trend in the bum bag (and the big tits, sadly), I’m all over the not so chic-ly ripped jeans. Ha ha! This made me giggle- thanks!

  6. I am loving that you want to look like Russel Brand. Hot tip- he is my hall pass. Avoid that look on Saturday! Sharing this immediately because you are possibly my only friend who openly admits to the bumbag. I wanna see if more come out of the woodwork!

  7. Bahahaha! At least you’ve made one more friend than I have in the entire time my boys have been at school. And my eldest is in year 8. My wardrobe consists of Kmart, Big W and Best & Less, so I keep it classy too. Can’t stop laughing at the glasses…

    • Hahhahaah those glasses are dead legit. 50 cents I paid for them, and they refuse to die!! I thought it was like a one day fill-in thing, but they keep going the distance! And I’m sure this post will do nothing to up my popularity stakes on campus. (weird coincidence – this comment came through as I was reading your treasured possession post!)

  8. School pick up outfits are of no consequence here. No-one gets out of the car because it’s too freaking cold. (Max of 8 degrees right on 3.15pm today). We all park along the school perimeter and the kids come to us. It’s quite possible that there are mums wearing PJs and ugg boots are de riguer every day 😉

  9. Please, just tell me that the bun bag bit is a joke! 😂
    Th point of writing a blog is so people read it, right? You’d think. At school pick up I’ve had a few of the mums say they’ve been reading my blog. I think to myself, really? I’m not sure how I feel about that. I guess that the fear of judgment on the school playground doesn’t finish when we leave school ourselves.

  10. My school style ranges from daggy tracksuits to sportswear, to jeans, and sometimes I even manage to pull off super stylish. But you know what? People only notice when you pulled on your old-faithful trackies with the spots of paint and holes. And I couldn’t give a you know what!
    But honey, we really need to talk about the bum-bag. 😉

  11. School playground – ugh! I’m the tired grouchy old lady who always needs to be somewhere else (and doesn’t read the newsletter so is always saying “What? What are you talking about? How did you know about this? I didn’t get a note!!”

  12. Bahahaha! Love it! I too cared initially about what to wear to school pick up but made a total of zero friends and spend the entire time chasing the 2 year old out of the sandpit and looking frazzled with one child screaming under my arm and the other dragging me eagerly down the street wanting to go home to watch ‘Cars mummy! Cars time!’.

  13. My school style was and still very much is, camouflage or missing in action. My three are all in high school now, so I would need to locate an invisibility cloak to be allowed anywhere near school drop off/pick up.

  14. Bahahahahahahahahahaha *breathe* hahahahahahahhahahaha! LOVE THIS! And soz Karin, my trackies were pure dag. 😛 And our road often has people walking through. But if I had a pair of your luxe grey trackie dacks Hugzy….well that would be a different story. Gosh school pick up is a minefield, isn’t it? Doesn’t help that the Mums at my cherub’s school are always immaculately dressed. So I find myself trying to remember what I wore last week so I don’t double up. I’ve been suckered in bad. But am very tempted by your yellow sunnies. Verrrrry tempted. Come summer, I might just flash my tatts and really give them a taste of my bogan side. I’m printing your guide as inspo. x

  15. Love this but I’m another concerned about the bum bag, maybe your keys on a lanyard would still keep you hands free and be a nice jewellery piece too, or are you really, really attached to it? We get all types at our school pick ups but my strategy is that I’ve timed it to just arrive as the bell goes (we live in hearing distance) and then as soon as the girls come out I seem to get covered in their school bags anyway which coincidentally are green nylon, it shits me to be the pack horse but is effective camoflague!

  16. Bahaha! I have seriously contemplated leaving my uggs on for after-school pick-up and it was more the fact that they are falling apart that deterred me than the fashion faux pas. But the bum bag… no. Whether you wear it at the front or back, both for me are areas that do NOT need any more bulkiness or attention drawn to them! Bags can be worn over the shoulder and still be hands free, y’know. I agree that a clutch bag might be impractical but there are OTHER OPTIONS.

    • LOL noooooo! See, I’ve tried handbags and I just can’t make it work. They’re always falling off my shoulder and getting all up in my business if I need to lean down to one of the kids. I’m clearly doing something wrong, because other people have said the same thimg to me.

  17. I hold you responsible for the strange looks I’m getting because I’m laughing out loud reading this (see I’m also trying to pull off the hipster-cool mummy blogger sitting doing my work in a trendy cafe that grow the own veg in their market garden and serve coffee from fair trade, etc… And yes, there are many a bearded men). My two are yet to start school so I’m only at he pre-school pick up/drop off stage. But, having been a teacher, I always have a good giggle at parents who try to impress at pick up… But I’m sure that will be me in a few years! Go the hoodie and jeans!

    • Hoodie and jeans for the win! Not quite the right combo for your hipster-bearded-man cafe, but at 8am in the morning I reckon that all bets are off. If I’m not in my pyjamas that’s pretty much a win if you ask me. LOL.

  18. Hahahaha, too funny!! I think it’s taken 3 years before anyone at school even realised I was a blogger – I was way to shy to mention it!! As for style, I don’t have much of it I’m afraid but I do rock the grey hoodie and the ripped jeans (and the extra 10kg) very well indeed! xx

  19. That’s one of the reasons why I love sitting in my car in the car park and getting the kids to walk out to me. And I make sure I have a book to read so no one thinks to knock on my window for a friendly (gossip) chat!

  20. You have a bumbag, I have a monkey backpack (I’ve hijacked Mr TT’s style bag). I don’t know where I’d be without my grey wardrobe, ripped jeans (like you – not on purpose) and crusty Cons. I do feel like I’m constantly wearing the same things over and over although in reality I don’t think any of the other mums at Miss T’s school really care. Luckily there is a good group of nice mums – they still don’t know I blog (not ready to make that jump out there just yet). Anyway, I need to be dressed comfortably for the quick getaway when Mr TT decides to do a runner out the gate and into the school carpark traffic…

    • OMG I wear crusty (fake) Cons too! TWINNIES! Our school vibe is super laidback and cool. I was a bit disappointed actually. I’d heard all these stories about bitchy-glam school mums and I was hoping to get a shitload of blog posts out of it. Nup. They’re just normal. Damn it.

  21. You nailed it with the bum bag. I’m so glad my kids catch the school bus …on the rare occasions I venture in – it’s exercise garb and I could care less what they think.
    I hope no-one reads my blog.

  22. Yep, yep, thank you. I’m taking down notes. I’ll be doing my first school drop offs and pick ups next year and need to know what the go is in the fashion stakes. I was worried everyone would be wearing Lorna Jane. I don’t own a single Lorna Jane item. Am I going to have to buy a pair of running shoes just for school pick up? My flip flops aren’t going to cut it, are they? Oh the dilemmas:)

    • None of that is going to cut it. If you are looking for style suggestions may I gently nudge you in the direction of the 5000 other blogs that won’t make you look like a complete loser dag like me.

  23. No way on the bum bag – seriously only for grey army travellers on European holidays. I have mastered the perfect look for school drop-off. I have my Year 6 daughter walk our 5 year old son into class and I stay warm and snug in the car in my PJs.

  24. Oh bloody hell you make me laugh, woman! I don’t have a kid in school yet and just can’t believe all I read and hear about damn school drop off! Is it really like this? Do mums really judge eachother on what they wear? OMG…well I’m going to bloody fail then. I wear what I feel like wearing and it ranges from a daggy tracksuit to something nicer if I’m feeling good. That’s what happens when you work from home….comfort over style!

  25. You bad ass bum bag wearer you! I am really crap at putting faces to names so I’m secretly relieved about your bumbag. It means I’ll be able to spot you a mile away at PB! PS Will you upgrade to a shiny or sparkly one for the Friday night event?!

  26. No way! A bum bag?! And what is it about cheap sunglasses being the only ones that last the test of time?! I’m not overly fussed what other mums wear to school – trackies, ripped jeans, hoodies, all good. But I draw the line at leggings because they are NOT pants people!!

    • LOL I can’t believe people find that so hard to believe! Rest assured, I own one pair of leggings that I don’t think have even been seen in public. Actually, thinking about it now, I’m trying to remember what possessed me to buy them. I don’t wear skirts or dresses…

  27. I draw the line at fanny pack. Dang. But I showed up looking like a diligent farmer the other day for my son’s orientation at his new day care so I’m not starting out on a high note. Next week will be a tutu and some chicken fillets (taking notes on the big tit thing since all I have is a big ass thing).

  28. Oh I love this. Yes, school pick up: I picture myself all moody and emo with a notebook in hand, whereas most days you’ll find me in Target tracky dacks trying to drag a petulant toddler out of the car. Respect, school mums.

  29. Ah school pickup time.. I barely have time to change out of my pajamas in between doing a load of washing for my linen sheets and kid wrangling an active toddler let alone think of looking presentable when I pick up my eldest from school.

  30. Oh I love you fashion tips!! Mind if I borrow them for PB?! Hehe! Lucky I only have to dress for school bus pickup but I reckon she’d have a good laugh what all is mums look like each morning. Sometimes it’s uggboots and suds looking trackies that look very much like pjs, hair everywhere and very sleepy. Other times it’s fresh makeup, fully dressed up and even accessorised!! It’s a lucky dip every pick up! Perhaps Hugzy needs to hand out hugs not cards to befriend new mums? That or insist on a booze up before pick up #howcouldtheyresist xx ps. I hope the bumbag is coming to PB

  31. Well I’m mostly there already – I have those same pink runners! My trackies are nowhere near as nice as your ones though; they are barely suitable for around the house. I pick my Year One-er up via the drive-by so don’t have to get out of the car, but still wear decent pants *just in case*. Except one time I wore the trackies, then of course got stuck in traffic and was late and had to pick him up from the office.

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