On Friday I had many inquiries into what English mum's wear to drop off their kids at school. It would be simple enough to just answer the question. I think it needs more than that though. It needs more explaining. It is a cultural difference that is very subtle yet when it stares you in the face daily it becomes glaringly obvious.
First I should start at the beginning. American school children go to school generally without uniforms (this is slowly changing throughout the country). They can wear whatever their parents deem appropriate. When I was growing up, it was generally a pair of clean jeans, a t-shirt, and a pair of sneakers (trainers). Here in England, all kids wear uniforms to school. The uniform consists of a pair of neutral colored trousers (or skirts), a white blouse or polo shirt, and a school jumper (sweatshirt), or school cardigan.
In the summer, the girls are permitted to wear gingham dresses of the school color. They also are required to wear proper shoes, girls have to have black dress shoes with a strap across the top and boys have to wear black shoes that are not trainers.
I think this habit of dressing "properly" is strongly engrained into the British culture. You will rarely find anyone wearing trainers unless they are actually going to run or do something athletic. More often than not they will also have proper trousers on and not jeans. If they do wear jeans, they will still have a pair of proper shoes on. T-shirts I assume are only for men and teenagers.
Now, the school LaLa goes to is fairly small. There are roughly 150 pupils in the entire school. I would say about half the school is Americans due to the proximity of the American Air Force Bases and the rest is British. Once upon school grounds it is extremely easy to tell the difference between the British and the American parents. Due to our fairly rural setting, we don't have nearly the population of "yummy mummies" a.k.a. the mum's who arrive with fresh boob jobs, acrylic nail, designer bags, designer sunglasses and four-inch heels, as some parts of the country. I believe my friend Mr. Moe "Mad Dog" Stoneskin is more inclined to run into this type. However, the British Mum's, even the stay at home mums, always get dressed to bring their children to school. By dressed I mean they put on proper trousers, a blouse, do more to their hair than just throw it up into a ponytail, and wear a pair of nice shoes (usually sensible heels).
Needless to say it is very easy to play "spot the Americans" at LaLa's school. You look for the American "mom uniform". Jeans or *gasp* sweatpants, t-shirt or sweat shirt (depending on the temperature) and sneakers. Usually in the morning their hair is also pulled back into a ponytail or messy bun. The mom's that have been here for a few more years tend to pick up some of the British culture and slowly start doing things such as wearing *gasp* real shoes.
I by the way am not bashing American mom's because I am just as guilty as they are most days. I have in fact taken to wearing ballet flats instead of sneakers most mornings but I still love my jeans and t-shirts.
This post was written by Kat, an Air Force wife, mother, sister, daughter, stay at home mom, person with questionable music taste, and so much more. She lives life like everyday is her last with a sense of humor to smooth over the rough patches. She recently moved to England and is trying to instill her morals and values into her beautiful little girls while trying to control her nasty cussing habit. You can read more at her blog, 3 Bedroom Bungalow.
Photo credit: stephmcg