Dressing to dig dirt

Posted October 28, 2015

Dressing to dig dirt

Rustic style: casual shapes, old materials, rough around the edges  Are we talking about my garden or my clothes?

I, along with a group of neighbours, recently acquired a strip of land (the happy outcome of a miserable two-year boundary dispute with a developer). It means we each have a new back garden and we’re all designing from scratch. I’ve gone for a ‘rustic’ look for my garden. What I hadn’t realised, until I spotted my neighbour, Morag, was that my gardening clothes are … well, let’s just say, a bit rustic too.

Morag was fast out of the traps with her design scheme. A few weeks back, when we were enjoying an Indian summer, a tall, slim figure stepped out her back door, dressed in a white boiler suit. My first thought was: Shit! There’s been a murder and CSI has been called to investigate. Closer inspection revealed that it was Morag herself. She wasn’t conducting a forensic investigation, merely painting her fence, and every other available surface, pristine white. Morag’s taste is the diametric opposite of mine: modern, sleek, sophisticated, urbanite, glamorous. She looked glamorous herself, in her white all-in-one.

I, on the other hand, was dressed in a tunic spattered with brown Cuprinol paint, baggy chinos and a pair of old walking boots that Frankenstein would have been embarrassed to own. Before, this wouldn’t have been a problem; I could have plodded around in any old jumbled combination, safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t overlooked. Not any more. The social pressure of dressing to impress has shifted to the garden. To my shame I realised that if I could see Morag then she, and my other neighbours, could see me too. I needed to find some stylish gardening gear ASAP. 

A quick search on the internet for women’s gardening clothes unearthed (sorry!) two possible ranges: Garden Girl and Land Girl. Clearly, unlike the Bond films, female gardening attire hasn’t progressed beyond girly to womanly. That probably explains why every garment is adorned with a ditsy floral trim. 

Garden Girl offers the type of twee outfit that Bree from Desperate Housewives would wear to tackle a straggly rose bush. But I’m digging heavy clay soil, handling bags of manure, topsoil and bark chips, painting fences, applying protective coating to sleepers. For the most part I look as if I’m dressed in rags only one step up from those used to clean the car. 

The Land Girl clothing selection isn’t much better. It’s described as “the brainchild of two good friends … who have a love of gardening and a desire to look good while doing it!” The strap line about looking good immediately hooked me. What a letdown. The range mostly comprises of beige or brown dungarees, with a daisy or patchwork trim. Fine for the nursery school playground but not for me. 

I flicked through the pages of Gardener’s World magazine, hoping to spot something more utilitarian. The first advertisement I came across was for a Playtex ‘lift and separate' bra. It was described as designed for comfort, with no wiring and broad adjustable straps, available in up to a size 46 K. A size 46 K??!! My largest hanging baskets are pea pods compared to those gargantuan cups. 

I'm no longer a girl but not yet a busty dowager. So what should I wear? In the end I followed Morag’s lead and ordered a boiler suit … in red. I may be knackered from all the heavy lifting and carrying, the digging, raking and painting but at least I’ll look cheery!


On second thoughts, going by this picture, I look more like the bloody aftermath of a particularly gory CSI  scene.

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