Of all the efforts I make to romanticize my life, the school drop-off line may be the most unexpected. Mornings are a rush of finding shoes and slapping together sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches (solidarity to my fellow nut-free school parents)—and this is the time I choose to tap into my main character energy? You’re dang straight. As my friend Krista says, I’m doing “the most with the least.” And thanks to my trusted rotation of essentials, a stylish enough school drop-off outfit is less than five minutes away.
Featured image from our interview with Marie Kouadio Amouzame by Belathée Photography.
Witness: the Mom in the wild. Complete with day-old hair, no makeup, pants she maaaay have also slept in last night, and yet—she’s a whole vibe.
Why should I care?
Here’s what caring about a school drop-off outfit (or a pick-up one) isn’t: it is not about trying to portray a false Instagram-level-perfect parent. But it’s also not about buying into this idea that (despite the photo above) moms just live in high buns and snot-covered t-shirts. Even in those early baby years, I couldn’t subscribe to this idea that I’d walked through some invisible threshold where I was no longer allowed to express myself through fashion or experiment with new looks. There is certainly grace for that time and it’s true, showers were a bit fewer and farther between. But I learned that if I don’t prioritize myself, no one else will do that for me.
And in my current stage of life, adding a gold hoop before I run out the door with the kids just makes me feel more like me. Never discount the small stuff.
Make it yours.
Of course, the best parenting advice I’ve ever heard is the Amy Poehler classic, “Good for her! Not for me.” You might be motivated for different reasons. Perhaps you’re in need of an easy capsule wardrobe for the weekdays so you have one less decision to make. Maybe it’s a boost of confidence in the mornings to carry you through the day. Perhaps it’s a reminder that NO, you are not a slob. You are an incredibly capable and smart human who also happens to look super cute in a baseball cap.
And so without further ado, here are the 10 items you need to go from PJs to put together in minutes.
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The 10 Essentials
Image of Megan Roup by Michelle Nash
A Go-To Sweatsuit Set
I used to feel bad about spending a lot of money on something like… sweatpants. I used to feel bad about a lot of things. However, I’m a mom now and my DGAF meter is high—WHAT A GIFT. Still, when you consider the price per wear, the beloved sweatsuit that I’ve worn, snuggled, and likely cried into since 2020 comes in at about .000001 cent total. That’s what we moms call a bargain.
Motherly Advice: Pair your sweatsuit set with a long trench and a beanie on a cold day. Your outfit is instantly elevated and it’s practical, to boot.
The Coziest French Terry Crew Neck Sweatshirtu003cpu003eEvery closet needs a soft heather grey crewneck sweatshirt (this one comes in a few more colors if you want duplicates). The French terry is like wearing a cozy blanket—a chic one that you can run errands in. Fits true to size but size up if you like it super oversized.u003c/pu003eu003cpu003eSizes XXS-2XLu003c/pu003e
alo Accodale Crew Neck Pullover, $118
Classic Unixsex-Style Sweatpants With Pocketsu003cpu003eThese are the classic sweatpants you’re looking for. A unisex style with an oversized silhouette, these babies come in seven colors and feature pockets that don’t bulge. These are true to size if you like ’em baggy, or size down for a relaxed fit.u003c/pu003eu003cpu003eSizes XXS-2XLu003c/pu003e
alo Accolade Sweatpant, $118
An Oversized Boyfriend Tee
The goal here is to find a tee so big and soft that you want to sleep in it. (And you just might.) You need a t-shirt you can throw on with the aforementioned sweatpants, jeans, or your preferred type of shorts. If you love the oversized look, you can always find something here. But if you’re looking for that super wearable basic tee, the All Yours Cotton T-Shirt is a solid option.
Motherly Advice: White t-shirts are essential to a mother’s wardrobe but they are also magnets for kid goo. Stock your purse with this and your laundry room with this.
Relaxed-Fit Tee (12 Colors)u003cpu003eThis breathable t-shirt is made from famously soft Pima cotton fabric. It falls right at the hip for moderate coverage or an easy tuck. Don’t be surprised if it becomes your new everyday tee.u003c/pu003eu003cpu003eSizes 0-20u003c/pu003e
Lulu Lemon All Yours Cotton T-Shirt, $58
Everyday Bike Shorts
We are officially in our bike-short era. I’ll never forget the time a friend showed up to an event in bike shorts and a blazer in the name of fashion. She was on the cusp of a trend that most moms at the time would have snubbed. But just yesterday, I found myself in a text thread with a group of moms discussing the Costco sale on bike shorts. That’s when I knew—we’re either at the end of a trend (in which case, #cringebutfree) or perhaps bike shorts aren’t a trend at all. Like jeans and leggings before them, bike shorts might just be here to stay.
Motherly Advice: May as well grab the matching bra. Throw on an oversized jean jack and BOOM. An outfit.
An Easy-Wear Dress
It might seem like a stretch to go from sweats to a dress but in my mind, these two things are very nearly one and the same. The key is finding a dress that is SO easy to wear. Here are the requirements: you don’t need any special undergarments to wear with it (and maybe none at all), it’s wrinkle-free, and it’s likely patterned or a dark color to hide any coffee drips. The fabric should be comfortable and soft, and bonus points if there are no zippers or fasteners. I’m talking you pull this thing on like it’s a worn-out, well-loved t-shirt. The only difference is this is a fully realized outfit—truly the most for the least.
Motherly Advice: I still ride hard for the nap dress. I’ve had this one for nearly two years and it’s still in my regular rotation. And my Christy Dawn dress has been going strong for SIX years. Price per wear, y’all…
A Dress That Requires No Thinking (5 Colors)u003cpu003eJust about any of Christy Dawn’s regenerative cotton dresses could become a mainstay in your closet. But the Brooklyn dress has that simple, classic feminity—enough to balance sneakers and wet hair.u003c/pu003eu003cpu003eSizes XS-XLu003c/pu003e
Christy Dawn The Brooklyn Dress, $298
A Pair of Chunky Sneakers
Call it a dad shoe, call it a TikTok trend—I call ’em comfortable sneakers that are versatile enough to bring some style to athleisure or dress down a dress. This is the pair I wear on the daily and they also happen to be the only shoes that’ll get me through a day at Disneyland comfortably. (Cool as they are, Air Force 1’s and Vans couldn’t hack it.) You really can’t go wrong with New Balance in general, but this is the classic style that stands the test of time—in both quality and fashion.
Motherly Advice: You also need socks. These are my go-to (a fabulous Amazon find if I do say so).
The Only Sneaker You’ll Ever Need (6 Colors)u003cpu003eThis shoe was literally built to u0022do a lot of things well.u0022 Sound like someone you know? They’re versatile, just like you. Go from school drop-off to a walk around the block to work to the DMV like the icon you are—all the while rocking the most iconic shoe.u003c/pu003e
New Balance 574 Core, $84.99
A Cushy Pair of Slides or Sandals
Confession: I slide my feet into sneakers without unlacing them first (sneaker heads will cringe). It’s not great for the lasting quality of my shoes which is why I love an easy pair of slides. You literally put ’em on and go—and anything that prevents a mom from crouching down to get it done is music to her ears. These aren’t cheap but listen, that’s the point. The way we moms go hard in the warmer months means we need a sandal that can hold up. These do the trick.
Motherly Advice: ALWAYS keep well stocked on nail polish remover. Moms love to paint their toenails and then go literal years without removing that one final swoop of chipped polish. These sandals demand better.
Slide ‘n Go Sandals (4 Colors)u003cpu003eTalk about a color (and material) that goes with everything. These leather slides feature a soft footbed and cushy criss-cross straps. At the cross section of comfort and style, they’re best-sellers for a reason.u003c/pu003e
Anine Bing Lizzie Slides in Cognac, $350
A Well-Shaped Baseball Cap
If there is anyone who understands the magic of a baseball cap, it is one Camille Styles. She rocks ’em on cozy days and chic days alike and it’s the perfect sporty-cool accessory. Similarly, I wear mine at least once a week—mostly on dirty or bad hair days. Sometimes I throw it on my head as I’m out the door only to find myself wearing it all day because, let’s face it, a well-shaped (and that is the key) baseball hat is a dang cute look.
Motherly Advice: I’ve ruined a baseball cap or two in the machine wash—don’t do that. I’ve heard you can wash ’em in the dishwasher but here’s how to do it according to Nike.
The Perfect Baseball Cap for Dirty Hairu003cpu003eCamille did it. She designed an essential baseball cap to meet all your bad—or good!—hair day needs. It’s a great shape (won’t make your face or head look wonky) and the minimal CZ logo makes it easy to pair with any look.u003c/pu003e
Casa Zuma Baseball Cap, $40
Image of Babba Rivera by Belathée Photography
A Pair of Sunglasses
On a normal day, sunglasses are practical. When you’re dropping off and picking up kids, sunglasses are essential. They block the sun! They hide tired eyes! They look chic! Is there anything sunglasses can’t do to elevate a look?
Motherly Advice: When it comes to sunnies, just do what the TikTok-ers say. We’re not wearing oversized frames with gold detail anymore. Square frames are currently in—don’t overthink it.
Chunky Gold Hoops
I wear these magic gold hoops every day. They don’t agitate my ears and they’re unexpectedly light for their size and shape. This is is what you call a small item with a BIG impact. I put them on and witness an INSTANT glow up. If you listen to me just one time: buy these earrings.
Motherly Advice: Get a backup pair. I recently came home from a night of giving piggyback rides to a “pick me uuuup”-level child. In typical toddler mystery, only one earring survived.
Magic Gold Hoops (4 Sizes)u003cpu003eIf you won’t listen to me, listen to 43,000 five-star reviews. These earrings are near perfection. I wear the 20 mm size which I’d classify as a small hoop. They catch the light just right and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.u003c/pu003e
PAVOI 14K Gold Plated Hoops (Amazon), $14
Double Duty Makeup: A Lip & Cheek Stain
My school drop-off outfits generally lack color, which is why I rely on a single product to punch it all up. I’ve been using Tata Harper’s “Naughty” for years and in my opinion. it’s the best in the game. All it takes is a little on your index finger to swipe on cheeks and then rub the remaining on your lips. DONE. It’s the cherry on top that brings the whole look together.
Motherly Advice: This is a strongly pigmented product which is great because a little goes a long way and not great because little hands will grab it and paint their school clothes while you’re brushing your teeth. YOU can learn this the easy way.
A Go-To Lip u0026 Cheek Stain (5 Colors)u003cpu003eFor when you want to look flush but not FLUSHED, you know? This weightless cream blush practically melts into your skin as it blends just beautifully. There is no sticky feeling afterward and it won’t disappear by the end of the day.u003c/pu003e
Tata Harper Vitamin-Infused Blush, $45
Want more? These are my WFH essentials—aka, everything I live in post school drop-off.
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