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Am I the Only One Who Bought Back-to-School Clothes for Herself?

Photograph by Amy Wruble

People make a big deal about the first day of kindergarten, but for my outgoing daughter, the transition was a snap. She found a kindred spirit (i.e. pigtails and a pink tee) on her way into class and off she went, all smiles.

My personal transition has been far more challenging. The issue is my wardrobe.

See, when I was a preschool parent, I never had to get out of the car during pick-up and drop-off. I went entire days without ever being seen by humans outside my family, except from the chest up. That meant I could safely operate as a cliche, style-challenged SAHM, in stained yoga pants and occasional pajamas. (I know that seems lazy, but when you're planning to "nap when the baby naps," it really just makes sense.)

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But with kindergarten, my lifestyle has abruptly changed.

Not only am I expected to walk my child to her classroom door, where I must interact with oodles of new parents, but there are events. So many events. The teacher meet and greet. The all-school assembly. The first PTA meeting. The volunteer training session. Back to school night (already?!) A back-to-school picnic (redundant?) A potluck for just my kid's class. And that's all within the first two weeks of school. I shudder to imagine the rest of the year.

Needless to say, my pajamas ain't cutting it for the many functions I'm expected to attend. So while all the "good" moms were shopping at Stride Rite and Carter's to get ready for school, I blew off the kid (she has enough clothes) and headed straight for Anthropologie, Michael Stars and the sale rack at Bloomies. There, I successfully expanded my wardrobe from one flattering gray T-shirt to about five flattering gray T-shirts. I'm a work in progress.

I should look clean and presentable, like someone you'd trust to host a drop-off playdate. Not someone with a hippie-homeless vibe.

I don't feel as though anyone I meet is actively judging me, but I think I'm right to be concerned about first impressions. After all, these new families will be in our lives for at least the next six years, and possibly the next 13. I should look clean and presentable, like someone you'd trust to host a drop-off playdate. Not someone with a hippie-homeless vibe.

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So while I'll never be the kind of mom who does drop-off in a pencil skirt and heels—because that would be dressing for a job I don't have and don't want—I am making an effort to pull it together with cute casual wear from this decade. And if that means I'm forced to go shopping for myself occasionally? I guess I'll just have to suffer through it.

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