The secret of early morning chic …

We can learn a lot from French women about the art of illusion.  Smoke and mirror tricks are second nature.

Take the school run … I had only lived in France for a week when I knew I couldn’t swap kisses at the schoolgate with other Mums (and Dads) without looking chic … even at 7.45am.

For five days I played the voyeur just looking and learning. The secret of early morning chic seemed to be to own a ‘stand out from the crowd coat’.

It had to be stylish, but it also had to flatter your shape and definitely be long enough to hide a multitude of sins from PJs to snagged stockings. It could keep you warm and it could be comfortable, but it had to look good.

These women sashayed through the school gate with an air of confidence. They didn’t shuffle, they didn’t hunch, they carried themselves and their coats like catwalk models no matter what their shape and size … and I started to love them for it.

It was only when I got to know them that I learned their coats were sometimes smokescreens hiding bits they just didn’t want others to see. What they had on underneath the coat didn’t matter. For those few minutes at the school gate they gave the impression of fabulous and carefree.

Before living in France for five years I bought coats because I liked them and because I thought they would keep me warm or dry. In France, Non, Non!

The coat has to make you feel great – not good – absolutely great. You have to get out of bed looking forward to wearing it.

And so in just five short days my black wool coat which had kept me warm during many a school run in Lymington and looked good with boots and a smart hat was no longer suitable. It had to go.

But this one was absolutely perfect.

Photo of Gerard Darel leopard print coat

Gerard Darel, leopard skin with a subtle leather edging became my new school uniform. Double breasted and gently fitted at the waist it made me look slimmer and taller, but most of all it made me feel glamorous enough for anything.

It made me feel so good I plucked up the courage to start speaking French to anyone and everyone.  But there are other coats that would translate as chic at the school gate.  Try this one from Hobbs.

Photo of the Kirsten Mac Hobbs

Incredibly chic and available in a fabulous vibrant shade of plume purple, or classic black, the Kirsten mac is definitely a new season must-have. £119

Or this short trench coat £69.99 from Zara

Photo of Short Trench Coat Zara

will look great over trousers with flat shoes   A perfect cover up for early morning PJ tops.

But to be stylish and conceal a thousand sins this Spring consider this.  The ‘Audrey’ swing coat from Boden. £149.00

Photo of Audrey Coat Boden

It’s not easy to find a coat that can capture the mood of a smart day. This one has a gently flared, fifties filmstar feel.  A fabulous, printed lining is a bonus for your eyes only.

And it looks great from the back

Photo of Audrey Coat Boden - back view

With just a great coat you can set the style at the school gate.

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