PJ apologists claim nightwear at the school gate is quicker, more comfy and not so different to clothing seen on the catwalk. But not getting dressed before you leave the house is still a remark of disrespect
God knows, my own standards aren’t high. I gave up a career in the law 10 years ago not so much because of my ineptitude and the grinding tedium of it all, but because I couldn’t bear wearing a suit every day. Now I sit at home and type in whatever decrepit rags have first come to hand. I couldn’t be happier.
But. BUT. There are lines that, if we have any collective pretentions left to civilisation, must not be crossed. Kate Chisholm, headteacher at Skerne Park Academy primary school in Darlington is trying to maintain one of them. She has just sent home a letter to parents asking them to get dressed properly and stop doing the school run and – on occasion – coming to school meetings and assemblies in pyjamas and slippers, as they are increasingly doing. She wants shoes. She wants daytime clothes. She wants coats instead of dressing gowns.
To some, this is tyranny of the highest order. Who is a headteacher to say what someone can or cannot wear? To curtail a parent’s right to free sartorial expression? Who died and made her queen of clothes? Why shouldn’t parents be comfy? And so on and very much so forth.
The answer to this mulish, defensive sort of babbling, of course, is that your right to swing your fist ends where it meets my nose. As things stand, save those for whom life is almost impossibly difficult and getting their children to school at all represents an achievement in the face of overwhelming odds, not getting changed before you leave home is a mark of disrespect. It says you have more important things to do than get your children to school, including staying in bed for the extra two and a half minutes it would take to throw on the jeans and sweatshirt that would, among other things, shroud you in the parental invisibility that children crave at the school gates. And will be insignificantly less comfortable than your nightclothes, you whinging fools.
Others will argue that the line between pyjamas and leisurewear has been hopelessly blurred by fashion trends of the past few years, that one person’s high-end nightwear is another person’s low-end casualwear (or possibly vice versa – they deliberately make it quite confusing) and that, as long as most of it’s made of cashmere, is dryclean-only and didn’t cost less than triple figures, all is well with the world.
You can make this argument if you are Elle Macpherson standing with other yummy fashionista mummies outside a prep school that costs eleventy-billion pounds a term. It may be almost valid. Out in the real world, however, it remains perfectly clear when someone is just a bit scruffy and when someone has just rolled out of bed and plans to roll straight back in there when they have offloaded this burdensome child on to the school for the day. Out here pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers still look exactly the same as they did before people started fannying about with the concept on the catwalk. They look like 50% cotton, 50% polyester and 100% contempt. Hold the line, Chisholm. Hold the line.
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