'Kerry Katona finally looks like grown-up yummy mummy in a stylish suit.'
So ran a headline in the Daily Mail recently alongside a paparazzi shot of Kerry with one of her young daughters on the school run.
The newspaper reported: 'A year after kicking drugs and embarking on a new healthy lifestyle, Kerry finally appears to have it all together - personally, and in the style stakes.'
Well, quite. The mum of four certainly looked sleek and chic, and a far cry from the tracksuit-clad Kerry we're used to seeing splashed across the pages of the papers.
But it got me wondering - what's the link between letting the side down in the style stakes, and not having it all together as a mum?
Is looking the part on the school run that important, and does the way we dress set the tone for the way we parent, or just the way we're perceived?
I'm sure I've already admitted to at least one previous count of doing the school run in my pyjamas, but I've recently had an epiphany not unlike Kerry's. There were no drugs or lucrative magazine deals involved in mine, but I did, reluctantly, come to the realisation that what I wear on the school run really does make a difference.
Shuffling out the door in bleach-stained track-suit bottoms, ancient Uggs and my husband's storm-force body warmer might be a cosy, comfortable way to start the day. But it doesn't exactly help me fire on all cylinders first thing in the morning, and while there's something liberating about facing the world make-up free, I find I feel brighter after a breezy bit of artwork with an eye pencil and even the hastiest smudge of lipstick.
What's more, a generous slathering of posh lotion and a squirt of perfume make me feel ready for the day. I'm certainly no oil painting and I'll never be the type to totter to the school gate in heels when comfy boots will do, but a bit of effort on the outside makes me feel better on the inside.
That said, I don't think the phrases 'grown-up' and 'yummy mummy' quite go together - am I alone in thinking that the only person allowed to utter the word mummy in any context should be those under the age of ten? And I reckon doing battle with the kind of demons Kerry has been facing should surely warrant her a few faux pas in fashion. But on the other hand, maybe taking care of your appearance is a critical stage in cleaning up your act? Like the old adage 'fake it till you make it', maybe feeling like a grown up starts with making the effort to look like one.
I know my sons notice when I've made an effort, and they love it when I smarten up my act. And, like it or not, they associate being well turned out with being a real grown up. When I ditched the trackie pants for a skirt and tailored coat my son said I nearly looked as smart as JanJan - my dear Dad, for whom no day at the office is ever complete without shiny shoes and a silk tie.
What do other mothers think? Mum of two Natalie dreads the daily clothes show that is the school run. "I can't even stand the thought of looking good at 8.45am," she says. "And don't get me started on the other mums - there are the gym bunnies, the Botox brigade, the suits... Ugh."
Jill, a mum of two, agrees. "I can't bear those women who look fab at 9am," she says. "I can barely be bothered to brush my hair. And neither do I care!"
In contrast, single mum Jo admits to relishing the opportunity the school run can present. "Sometimes I tart myself up on purpose and make prolonged eye contact with all the dads," she smirks. "But that's just because I'm a trouble maker."
In my book, that's even more reason to give other mums at the school gate a run for their money in the style stakes...
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