William Hanson: How you can be more lady than tramp on school runs

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Ladies, it’s time to go back to school. Not just for your children, but for you too.

You’re going to be viewed and judged by the other parents – there’s no point pretending otherwise. Time to revise your school gate politesse and poise.

The playground aside, thank heavens we have positive role models like Their Royal Highnesses The Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex for women everywhere to take inspiration.

Whether they had married into royalty or not, it’s a good time to revisit the age-old rules that any lady of poise must follow. 

Crude, crass and coarse behaviour just wont get you very far in life and sets a terrible example for children.

Here is my guide on how to be more lady than tramp during, and after, the school run.

With the summer holidays at ab end, parents have returned to the school run. Etiquette expert William Hanson reveals how you can look classy in front of the other mothers (file photo)

With the summer holidays at ab end, parents have returned to the school run. Etiquette expert William Hanson reveals how you can look classy in front of the other mothers (file photo)

With the summer holidays at ab end, parents have returned to the school run. Etiquette expert William Hanson reveals how you can look classy in front of the other mothers (file photo)

Avoid wet hair

A lady is never seen in public with wet hair.

The damp dog look for your crazed coiffure is not something that should be inflicted on anyone else. It can show a lack of personal standards, so build in an extra five minutes to your morning routine before leaving for the school run so it at least looks presentable.

No one is asking for complete Cambridge-level perfection: we’re just asking for dry.

Be on time

A lady is never late. Regularly racing through the playground, clutching your child, sets a bad example for the child in later life – as does arriving late to collect the child at the end of the day.

Then when at work, there should be no silly tactics, often favoured by insecure men, about arriving late in order to control the room’s attention, a lady is on time and plays by the rules.

 If school starts at 8.30am then the children should be frolicking in the playground by 8.20am at the latest

But what does on time mean? Socially, at a party or dinner, on time means arriving 10 – 15 minutes after the stated arrival time. (Those who don’t understand why this is important are invariably people who don’t host.)

For business appointments, on time means that you are there a few moments before the stated start time ready to begin on the dot of the appointed hour.

And if school starts at 8.30am then the children should be frolicking in the playground by 8.20am at the latest.

No swearing

There’s no point pretending that people shouldn’t swear. Obviously, it would be great if we all didn’t, but life is not like that.

What can be tempered is swearing at people, in front of children, clients and when in public. Keep the curse words for your private life and only when you’ve dropped something or stubbed a manicured toe – but of course, when delicate, ingénue ears are out of range.

Ditch the grab and go coffee

William Hanson says that women should be grateful that they have ladies like the Duchess of Cambridge as inspiration for how to dress and behave on the school run. Pictured is the Duchess of Cambridge with Princess Charlotte

William Hanson says that women should be grateful that they have ladies like the Duchess of Cambridge as inspiration for how to dress and behave on the school run. Pictured is the Duchess of Cambridge with Princess Charlotte

William Hanson says that women should be grateful that they have ladies like the Duchess of Cambridge as inspiration for how to dress and behave on the school run. Pictured is the Duchess of Cambridge with Princess Charlotte

Tottering into the playground, or your office job afterwards, with your takeaway coffee (even if it’s in your own reusable cup) is not a good look for anyone.

Teas and coffee are there to be savoured and enjoyed and if you’ve bothered to look half-decent that morning and are dressed in slick attire, nothing ruins it more than an ungainly cling to a takeaway vessel.

Perhaps the coffee at your work is terrible, so you have to get something from elsewhere? Ask for a little bag, pop a coffee stirrer/plug in the lid’s hole, and carry this to the office. Then find a proper cup and saucer and decant the contents. Far more elegant.

Tights are still an essential

It’s an etiquette rule that Meghan is having to get used to, but even in super-casual 2018 Britain, a woman must wear tights in formal situations.

Fair enough, the school run is not a formal situation, so it’s fine to ditch them then or for a kitchen supper or picnic, but for the office, weddings, gala dinners and smart school events then tights add some extra sophistication to your pins.

(If your legs are getting too hot whilst wearing them then perhaps time to invest in some finer, better quality hosiery.)

Become well heeled

Firstly, don’t even leave the house unless you can walk in heels. It’s difficult, I’ve tried it, so don’t worry, I do speak from experience. But the knack can be mastered with practice. But when dropping the children off is not the time to practice – you’ll just embarrass both them and you

Tip: body-con dresses and miniskirts rarely help ladies get the leg extension you need to walk masterfully in heels, so pick a dress that allows for more flexibility of movement.

A real lady knows that for daytime, footwear should not have a heel above three inches and for evenings, four inches is really the limit.

Even with skirts, a good pair of flats can look as elegant and stylish as any heel.

You can still look good without heels.

Keeping it under wraps

Those with true grace and style do not need to flaunt any part of their body that conventionally remains covered.

The old rule was ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’. But today that seems to have been warped into ‘if you haven’t got it, flaunt it’. Less is not more.

One hand’s width of décolletage is enough, and skirt lengths for semi-formal and formal events should never be above the knee.

Similarly, and this applies to all genders and ages, underwear is not outwear. If we can see a bra strap or two, something’s gone wrong.

Your outfit and wardrobe choices are two of the many things that will be judged by the parents and teachers

Style over substance

As lovely as Diana, Princess of Wales was, many noticed her wardrobe before they noticed her.

The Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex get this the right way round and it is most usually the face of the lady you notice before the outfit.

Clothes should complement a lady’s persona but not overshadow it.




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