When I read how Kate Chisholm, head of a primary school in Darlington, had berated school-run parents for wearing pyjamas when dropping off their kids, I was amazed on two counts.
Firstly, that people were actually venturing out in their nightclothes; secondly that the resulting fallout brought a clamour of support for such sartorial misdemeanours.
A friend of mine, who used to be deputy head of a London primary school, confirmed that she had witnessed a number of mums turning up in their nightdresses and slippers during her time there. Nor, it seems, is slipping out in PJs confined to the school run. Yesterday the Observer reported how some women even ventured out to the local supermarket wearing the stuff they’d slept in.
As well as devoting several column inches on the subject in the main paper, the Observer also featured a full-page debate in the News Review on wearing pyjamas in public. Meanwhile India Knight, writing in the Sunday Times, came down firmly on the side of relaxed dressing for busy and harassed mums trying to get their little ones off to school. No doubt the other Sundays nailed their colours to one side or the other.
While I fully understand how difficult it must be when you have young children, what concerns me is that, now that dressing down has hit a new low, where will it lead? When schools are striving hard to raise standards, what sort of example are parents setting about the outside world? That it’s OK to be slapdash with your appearance?
In that case, will people start turning up for work in their jimjams for the sake of an extra 20 minutes kip? Or perhaps the relaxed approach to dressing will extend to time keeping (there have been complaints from employers about young people not turning up for work on time) and spelling. I once remember someone saying they couldn’t understand the big deal about spelling as long as what’s written is understood.
But, if standards are not maintained, we could all end up drowning in a sea of ‘can’t be bothered’. Back to the pyjama debate, I can’t accept the argument about not having time to get dressed properly. After all, working mothers do it all the time.