For the mother who drops off her children at school wearing her top inside out along with tracksuit bottoms and mismatching slippers, the sight of sleek women with designer shoes and professional blow-dries at the school gate at 8.30am can inspire curiosity and awe in equal measure. Do they get up at 5am to get ready?
Depending on the school, mothers can find themselves hitting a catwalk every day. Just when busy women thought managing to get the kids to school in clean uniforms was enough of a feat, Google has reported a 40pc increase in searches for "what mums should wear back to school".
It's not just celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Elle Macpherson who have raised the school-gate fashion stakes – regular mums are also feeling the pressure to be well turned-out for the school run. In the UK, mothers spent an average of £87 (€103) apiece on clothes, jewellery and beauty treatments to ensure they looked their best for the new school term. The Harvey Medical Group attributed pressure to look good for September to an 18pc jump this summer in the number of women seeking treatments such as Botox, dermal fillers and facial peels.
Avril Keys, a Belfast mother-of-three, plans her school-run outfits the evening before. After she has dropped off her children to school, she uploads a picture of what she wore and posts in it on her blog, 'School Gate Style', to provide inspiration for other mothers.
This month, Keys's back-to-school style advice included a waterproof Georgia Parka jacket from Target Dry, an outdoor clothing brand from Belfast, worn with boyfriend jeans from The Gap and navy pumps from Zalando.