# look presentable always # parenting

Parents, Dress Up For Your Children

Hi everyone... wonderful news! We had our baby this past weekend and ... it's a boy! He is wonderful and healthy. I will speak about him in a future post, but I wanted to publish this for you first... Monday's original post. It's very timely! Thanks for all of your wonderful comments on social media. We are all enjoying this very special time! See you soon, Jennifer xx

We have come to the end of the school year. This time of year can be so busy for parents, with graduations, concerts, recitals, award ceremonies, open houses and parent teacher conferences. In this week's video, I encourage parents to dress up for their children to mark the specialness of these occasions and rites of passage.

Children do notice how we dress, whether they tell us or not. You will notice them smile and compliment you when you dress up for a certain occasion. Dressing up for them will send non-verbal communication that the event is special. It also conveys respect, because you are showing that you thought about, and have prepared for the function.

Now, this is not supposed to be stressful. If you have a ten-item wardrobe, you will most likely have many presentable options already to choose from. You don't need to go overboard in expensive clothes, or even go shopping for anything. Just looking presentable and appropriate for the occasion is enough. To deem whether you are appropriate for the occasion, just think of the event. One would dress differently for an outdoor daytime graduation, for example, than they would for an evening choir concert.

There are so many options, even casual ones, that still convey dressiness. Always avoid exercise clothes, pajamas and sweat pants (yes it seems obvious, but I have seen it all at these sorts of functions). You can absolutely wear jeans, it just depends on how you style them. Jeans with flip-flops and a tee shirt do not read as dressing up because this is the type of clothing that is worn on an average day.

Below are some outfit ideas. I am giving a wide range of options because I know not all people are comfortable in dressier clothing and prefer to wear jeans (whether or not you choose to wear jeans will depend on the formality of the event, it's up to you). I tend to veer on the dressier side for everything, but you don't have to if it makes you uncomfortable. The key is to look presentable and feel great too, so do what works for you.

Here are some suggestions:


Slacks in any color or white jeans, blouse, flat or wedge sandals and a cardigan or wrap.

Summer dress, cardigan, flat or wedge sandals and a special piece of jewelry.

Skirt, blouse, flat or wedge sandals, wrap or cardigan, sunglasses.

Concert or recital:

Dress, heels or flats, paired with a cardigan or wrap.

Skirt, blouse, heels or flats, cardigan or wrap.

Dark or white jeans, blouse, cardigan, heels or flats, special jewelry.

Slacks in any color with blouse and cardigan, heels or flats.

Award Ceremonies, Open House, Parent Teacher Conferences

Dark jeans, blouse, sweater, flat shoes and handbag.

Dress, wrap or sweater, flats or low heels.

Skirt or slacks with blouse and cardigan, paired with low heels or flats.

I wish I could model some of these looks for you, but being 37 weeks pregnant and on bed rest, that isn't happening right now... perhaps in the fall I can model some appropriate looks! Check out my video to hear me discuss this topic. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Comments of the Week

Wenzday writes:
Hi Jennifer,

I love your books and blog, and putting together the 10-item wardrobe has been amazing for me.

I am in total agreement with you on the bad language issue. (So is my husband, who makes me turn the sound up whenever I watch your videos!) The thing is, I think it goes beyond the fact that they are "bad words." I think it is about disturbing the atmosphere and comfort of people around you. Swearing is accompanied by strong negative emotion, and it is just plain obnoxious to inflict that on other people. Especially somewhere like a restaurant, where other people have dressed up and are paying good money to have a lovely meal and time with friends or family, or a beauty salon where one expects to be able to relax.

Thanks so much for your post!

Hello to you and your husband, Wenzday. You touched upon a major truth in your comment. Foul language does carry a negative energy with it and does infect the atmosphere, which is why we can't quite put our finger on why it is so bothersome in public spaces. Thank you for wording this so eloquently.

R&R writes:
Thank you for this post. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of self-awareness (or lack of). Unfortunately, I find that it is now unique to observe behavior (language, cell-phone etiquette, driving etiquette) that IS respectful of others. I am the Human Resources Director of a large medical office and it is not uncommon for applicants to arrive for an interview in jeans and sneakers and to use profanity during the interview. By far, the worst offenders I have are the high school students that apply for a job shadow. They arrive (after having been dropped off by a parent) to observe a licensed medical professional wearing gym shorts or flip flops with their belly button exposed. After having to ask several of these students to leave, I now provide every job shadow applicant with a description of appropriate attire, since they are certainly not provided with this guidance at home or at school.

Dear R&R, thank you for sharing your experience as a human resources director. People can be oblivious to their bad habits. It sounds like all of the applicants you describe in your comment could benefit from working on their poise. One of my favorite letters was from a reader who just landed her dream job and was told her "poise" was what made her stand out in the interview process.

Edna P writes:
Every lady is a woman but every woman is not a lady.

Hi Edna, thank you for commenting on YouTube. I would like to add to your sentence that every woman has the potential to be a lady. And I truly believe that. Anyone who makes up her mind can have the grace, class and elegance described in Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic.

Congratulations to my blogging friend, Fiona Ferris, of How To Be Chic on the publication of her new book, Thirty Chic Days.

Fiona's blog is wonderful, and she infuses all of her inspiring tips and ideas into her comprehensive book. Congratulations, Fiona!

This week, I would love to know... What are your thoughts on dressing for children's school events? Do you feel that parents are becoming more lax in this regard? Do you think it is important for us to present ourselves well when we attend a child's extracurricular or school function? Let me know and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week!

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Robyn said...

As a teacher and a parent I whole heartedly agree. Looking presentable for school functions, except maybe field day sets a tone of respect for yourself, your child and the school. I would also encourage parents to dress their child in a tidy manner as well. This will date me but when I was a child I remember my dad wearing a coat and tie and my wearing a "church" dress to school functions.

The Buchholz's said...

Congratulations on the birth of your son, Jennifer!

I am always perplexed when I go to some type of event and see children in dressy clothes, hair done, etc, but the parents in sloppy, every day clothing. Where I live, this is not uncommon and it appears so jarring to me! I can't imagine going through that much trouble to dress your child while at the same time looking as if you put no effort into your own appearance. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of "marking the occasion".

I love listening to podcasts on the way to work and recently downloaded a librivox recording of one of the original Emily Post Etiquette books. It is very fun and fascinating! Though we don't think too much about bowing, tipping one's hat or calling cards these days, there is still so much that still applies and I am enjoying it very much.


Anonymous said...

WOW great news! Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you and impressed that you still managed to upload your video for us, just a few days after giving birth! Enjoy and thank you for the inspiration. Thank you also for your post...it's a great reminder that children notice all the subtle messages we communicate (or don't communicate) to them. It's important to model what we want to see in our children.

Rambling said...

Congratulations on your new arrival! Little boys are wonderful.

I agree with making an effort for our children's functions. We live in a small, reasonably affluent city and most people do dress nicely for school (and other) functions. It is one of the things I appreciate about our community. As a result, it is not difficult to get our boys to dress up for events. I suspect they even enjoy it, although they would not admit it!

My only complaint (and this is probably due to my age) are yoga pants and leggings. Please, ladies ... let's have a little decency and save these extremely revealing items for home or the gym. Unless you work in a yoga studio, yoga pants are inappropriate for work. No exceptions. Not sure who to give credit to but there's a great saying going around: "There are three things in this world that will never lie. Children, Drunks and Leggings!"

Maureen @Raising The Capable Student said...

Congratulations on the birth of your son!

Gigi said...

Congrats again on your new baby boy!

I remember my mother drilling it into my head to always wear some makeup and do my hair before leaving the house - no matter what. It was her opinion that you never knew who you would run into and she was right. Every single time I ignored her "rule" I was caught out.

My son is in college - so I don't go to those functions any more but I do agree that society is getting far too casual. I am so tired of seeing people at the grocery store in pajamas and slippers!

galant said...

Just to add my congratulations!
Margaret P

Unknown said...

I'm not a parent but I am an aunt. I made a point of dressing up for all my nephews' special occasions...soccer games, awards, performances and graduations. I felt the need to present our family at it's best...polite and put-together. They are now 25 and 28 and both wonderful, successful men. I am their proud aunt!

Shelly said...

Congratulations to you and your family on the birth of your new son. 💕

Fiona Ferris said...

Congratulations Jennifer and family, and I'm in awe that you posted! Many thanks for mentioning my book Thirty Chic Days :)

Anonymous said...

When my daughter was in high school, we had an issue that I went to the school to talk with the principle about (she was being bullied). I dressed up with a simple dress. I truly do believe that the way I dressed communicated that I was educated, and I was not going to put up with such nonsense. It was a rural area, and people really did not dress up much in this logging town. The counselor even commented on how I looked very nice. I represented myself, as well as my daughter. How we dress communicates so much.

me said...

Congratulations for the birth of your son!

I grew up in Italy and brought up with the habit that you always give the best of yourself, it doesn't matter the circumstances. There's no grand, medium or small occasion in which you shouldn't show respect for the others and keep up your own dignity by dressing appropriate. "Comb your hair, wash your hands, polish your shoes" was what we still remember our grand-father's motto, "because you never know".

Dressing with decor at the children's function aligns with that idea, maybe very Italian, of pull yourself together without trying hard, without having to impress anyone. It's where good manners meet style and elegance. It doesn't take much and makes everyone in a good mood.

Elizabeth said...

Congratulations Jennifer to you and your husband as well as the new "big sisters"! How exciting for all of you. Welcome to the "three kid club".

I was raised to always look presentable when leaving the house as well. When my youngest was about 6 she became ill at school one day and they needed to call me to pick her up. They then asked her what my work phone number was because it wasn't on file. She explained that I was a "stay at home mom"and they insisted that I must work somewhere because I didn't dress like a "stay at home" mom. I never really dressed up, but tried to look presentable out of respect for the teachers and so that my daughter knew how to be presentable in public. We laughed about it later.

Best wishes, Elizabeth G.

LRS4AMANDA said...

Congrats to you and your husband Jennifer!!

Linda in San Diego

Unknown said...

Congratulations on the birth of your son Jennifer! And thank you for this post, I have been tossing around many ideas on what to wear to my daughter's graduation. Your post illuminated the topic as usual! Looking forward to hearing more about the new addition to your family!

Patricia said...

Oh Jennifer, I am so happy for you, your husband, and your daughters, upon the birth of your baby son!!! Whenever I watch your videos, no matter the topic, I always feel myself smiling. It's just something about you and how you present yourself and the topic, no matter the subject. As I read your BIG news, I'm smiling really BIG!

On the topic of dressing up for your children's occasions, just this past week, I was listening on NPR to one of my favorite programs, "Tom Ashbrook's On Point." The topic was dressing for the office...has casual dress gone too far (paraphrasing the topic)? What's appropriate dress and in which work circumstance? Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook wears a hoodie and jeans. Appropriate, I would say, in the technology environment, not in a law office and most other work situations. My response, both "right" and "wrong," depending on the "culture" of the workplace. Of course, I realize an artist, a sculptor, a carpenter, a horse trainer will wear clothes appropriate to their endeavor, yet it gives me pause to think of school teachers wearing attire more appropriate for the beach or washing their car than standing before a classroom of children. I've always believed that "how one dresses is very much an indicator of how one behaves."

The show receives call ins from listeners. I was struck by one such call: a new teacher in a new school totally uncertain of what to wear? She says the female school principal wears dresses and/or suits with heels. However, very many of the teachers wear extremely casual dress, some even down to flip-flops on their feet.

Her conundrum: She prefers to emulate the principal, yet does not want to alienate her colleagues, so she doesn't know what is appropriate for her work environment?

My response would have been to dress perhaps a gradient down from the principal, but not to a T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops. My mother used to always tell me that a white blouse and black or navy skirt (or slacks) can always look appropriate with black flats or lower-heeled pumps. My mother often took her own advice, except for the shoes. Except for at home, my mother never went out the door in any shoes (unless she was playing golf)with anything lower than three-inch heels. To me, she always looked "smashing."

Living positive said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Living positive said...

Dear Jennifer,
First of all, I want to congratulate you and your family with a new member. Lots of love, health, and happiness to a little boy and all of you.
I completely agree with every word. I truly believe that dressing appropriate is essencial in our lives. It brings a little bit of sunshine even on a rainy day! Children will remember, and these memories of their parents dressed up for their special events in school or recitals do affect their lives. I am pretty confident it makes our children feel special!

Lisa A said...

Congratulations on the birth of your son! What a joy!

You are so right that it's important to mark special occasions with appropriate dress! A dear friend of ours who is in her 70s remarked a few years ago that she has always dressed up for holidays and she has noticed more and more over the years how people are dressing so casually for holidays now. Her words have inspired me to make a special effort to dress up fo special days and I'm glad to see you confirming that here.

I also wanted to share that my 8 year old daughter absolutely loves At Home With Madame Chic! I got it from the library for myself a while back and could barely get it back from her once she started! In fact she just asked me to check it out from the library again. I will definitely be buying a copy when I'm able to do so. :)

SH said...

Congratulations on your new baby! Thank you for encouraging people to show respect through dress, and for reminding people that dressing up for their children makes them feel special and models the right attitude. In my experience parents do dress up for school graduations, even the 5ht grade graduation at our school was a dress up affair. One young girl was wearing a long satin-type dress and she looked beautiful and happy. I'm not sure what happens in the suburbs, if there is a difference, but in my east coast city's public schools there are families where an education is a big deal and cannot be taken for granted. I know that many parents did not get a chance to have much education in their country of origin and they are happy that their children are getting a chance. In addition, there are others who deal with so many obstacles that a child's milestone is celebrated with joy and relief, and they wear their very best as an expression of that feeling. Anyway, this is an interesting point where parenting and getting dressed intersect!

Gabym said...

Congratulations Jennifer on your delightful news, we have 3 boys and they are very special. I absolutely agree with you about presentation, especially at school events. Firstly it shows respect for the occasion, the teachers and your children. Secondly, your children may not necessarily notice if you make more of an effort, (being boys) but believe me they certainly notice those parents who are wearing workout clothes, look sloppy or unkempt. I have been to school functions and seen parents dressed liked they have just walked the dog! The children do notice, (they are 14, 12 and 11) and tell me they would be embarrassed if I arrived at school like that. I do encourage having pride in one's appearance, and as you say this does not involve a lot of money or being over the top. Careful grooming and appropriate dressing go a long way. If like you, one aims to look presentable at all times, this topic is simply a continuum of that concept. Gabrielle ( from Australia)

Vajra said...

Congratulations to you and your family on the birth of your son. What a wonderful gift! Take care of yourself and get back to blogging when you are all settled in.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the wonderful suggestions of appropriate outfits listed by occasion! Very helpful. I'm interested to read the 30 Chic Days book--I love that more and more people are exploring the concept of "chic"--certainly our world needs it. Congrats on your baby boy--hooray!!

Natalie Tze said...

So good to "see" you post delivery and BIG CONGRATULATIONS, Jennifer! Sending you love, strength and patience from my corner of the world. Take as good care of yourself as I'm sure you would of the newest member of your family. Mommy needs to be cared for just as much as the new baby so be sure to delegate, delegate, delegate and catch as much rest as you can during this special time! *hug* :)

Emma Knight Peel said...

Congratulations! I knew it was going to be a boy because of the secrecy and because you seemed to be wearing more blue clothing. Yay! How exciting! :)

rosary said...

I am a private piano teacher. My students know the dress code for recitals and festivals and always come appropriately dressed. But I am always dismayed at the way the parents are dressed. Therefore, I made an effort to dress well for my sons' school activities when they were in school.

Maureen said...

Congratulations on the birth of your son! I wish you and your family all the best and as much sleep as possible. :) Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I have been thinking of you and wondering if your little one made his or her debut. Enjoy your precious new son. ~Erica G.

LHN said...

I am a private piano teacher, and I work from a studio in my home. I have fond memories of my own childhood teacher wearing her silk blouses, dresses, and kitten heels. She was well into her 70's when I began studying with her, and many of her clothes were older than I was! Yet, she always looked so elegant and credible--even though she was tiny, elderly, and a bit round--because her clothing choices stated clearly how seriously she took her profession. When I started to rebuild my studio after years off with children, I made a decision to emulate her. My "uniform" is typically a sheath dress and low heels (elegant, and EASY). New students and parents usually comment for weeks on how nicely I'm dressed before they seem to get used to seeing me like that. I smile, thank them, and tell them their lessons are very important to me. I do think it has helped them take lessons more seriously. I also suspect it cuts down on some of the more troublesome aspects of running a tiny business from your home in terms of helping clients understand that this is a REAL business, and therefore they must pay and do so on time. And it makes my life easier--a limited number of choices that always look great! Thank you for your thoughtful approach--your work certainly influenced my thinking just as I was beginning the arduous process of rebuilding my career. Congratulations and best wishes to you! ~Lacy

Simocha said...

Congratulations and many blessings on the new addition to your family. I don't know how I missed this earlier. Enjoy this special time. My 3 year old said, "OH, we have to go to her house." Funny, since this is the opposite of what we do in our family when new babies arrive, but she'still the baby so she wouldn't know. Lol! Enjoy!

Simocha said...

Congratulations and many blessings on the new addition to your family. I don't know how I missed this earlier. Enjoy this special time. My 3 year old said, "OH, we have to go to her house." Funny, since this is the opposite of what we do in our family when new babies arrive, but she'still the baby so she wouldn't know. Lol! Enjoy!