Friday, 3 February 2012

What do you wear when gardening?

Wellywoman blogged recently about what to wear when gardening  What a topic!  I didn't realise I had so many favourites and habits until I got going but the more I thought about it the more it felt like it should be a blog of its own.  Left as a comment it was going to be longer than the blog itself.

So first of all gardening requires very comfy trousers.  This was fine until recently.  I have a pair of old M&S stretch jeans and would have said they fitted the bill.  The only problem is that they are just a little too big in the waist so tend to inch their way down.  They are, however, suitably battered which is essential for gardening trousers as, no matter how many times I tell myself I won't, at some point in any gardening session I will end up kneeling down.  The problem came when I bought a new pair of jeans, intended to be my smartish jeans.  Not the smartest pair of all you understand, not the ones that I might wear with heeled boots, but the next pair down, to be worn with flat shoes but definitely not my scruff.  The only trouble is that these jeans are so very, very comfy that it is hard to take them off and put my gardening trousers on.  They fit perfectly.  They are neither too tight nor too loose.  They feel like a second skin.  As a result I keep finding myself outside in the garden, kneeling down of course, wearing my second best jeans.  I know I will just have to give in and buy another pair to be my second smartest and let these jeans assume their destiny.  I just can't quite bring myself to spend the money yet.

In summer I wear shorts, long and rather baggy shorts which even my best friend couldn't say were flattering.  Maybe there are some flattering shorts out there somewhere but I can't spare the time to go shopping for them.  Winter or summer I wear an old, soft tee shirt.  In winter I also wear an old navy fleece with lovely big pockets.  Jackets are easy but footwear is not.  When it is hot I wear an ancient pair of sandals.  I can't garden in summer without getting my feet filthy and I would love to find something to wear which is both cool enough for hot weather and which protects my toes.  When it is not so hot I wear an ancient pair of trainers and in winter I mostly wear wellies.  I might change over to walking boots in cold dry weather. I am about to demote the much loved boots which took me along the Offa's Dyke Path a couple of years ago and have been replaced by a new pair of Scarpa boots.  Wouldn't it be great to garden in a floaty dress or stylish skirt?  Maybe you have to have a formal English country garden for that and a gardener or two in the background doing the dirty, sweaty stuff.  The kind of gardening I do seems to need jeans and boots.

And the last thing is gloves.  I love gardening gloves and have about six pairs.  Unfortunately I can't bear thick, stiff gloves and know that if I wear them I will take them off.  Even with my favourite thin pairs, I am quite likely to find that I have discarded them somewhere but at least thin gloves have a chance of being on my hands for a fair while.  The only problem is that time and again they go on the right hand at the index finger and the thumb.  It must be my weeding action!

So if anyone has any great suggestions for summer gardening footwear and thin but tough gardening gloves please let me know.  Until then I will be found with dirty feet in summer and a dirty index finger on my right hand!

50 comments:

  1. I think you have said it all, Elizabeth. This post is to gardening wear what Moby Dick is to whaling. Any contribution would be superfluous. I do, though, have a magnificent oiled jacket (or is it a coat?) which goes on an on and on and only cost about £10 in the first place from our agricultural stores where you can also buy proper leather medieval gauntlets for under a fiver (including VAT!) From the same store I have a pair of wellies that must be six or seven years old and I wear them winter or summer. For gloves, though, (as opposed to gauntlets) the National Trust shops offer pure white pigskin gardening gloves which are far too posh (to say nothing of being the wrong colour) for gardening but which if you do garden in them are so warm and comfortable that you don't want to take them off. The cost is (or was until recently) a mere £10.
    Oh well I see I have made a contribution after all, which is a bit rich as I garden as little as I can get away with. Anyway I read your posts and feel inspired.

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    1. I love the idea of the oiled jacket and am absolutely sure they sell the same thing in our local agricultural place. Maybe it's a Welsh special! I have seen those National Trust gloves too and always thought they looked a bit like driving gloves and about as useful - might have to reconsider!

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  2. Everything I wear in the garden is either a sludgy-green colour or brown. I like to blend in, outdoors. I wear Showa 350 gloves for anything wet, cold and prickly. They get absolutely filthy, but have waterproof palms and go in the washing machine. Otherwise my tough skin has to be its own protection.

    Every other year I buy two pairs of GriSport Dartmoor walking shoes. These do for gardening and nursery work in summer and winter. I do wear walking shorts in summer, when I remember. It's scary the first time, each year. Clearly this means I end up with a gardener's tan - a line above my socks and below the shorts. A second set of tan lines form around my neck and the bottom half of my arms. Classy it ain't!

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    1. Thanks for the glove suggestion - will seek them out!

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  3. I look like a tramp when I garden - oldest joggers and t shirt I can muster - bare feet at home in summer old pair of trainers at all other times. I don't wear gloves, but I do cover my head - usually a large cotton gents kerchief type arrangement tied to keep my hair off my face and off my neck. Have a selection of cotton sun hats too, and they get worn depending on where they get left and which is to hand!

    Have you seen these special ladies clothes you can now buy to wear for gardening? Have you seen what they cost? Bonkers! I just wear things that are on their last legs prior to them being disposed of in the compost heap!

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    1. Totally agree about the special clothes at vast expense. Why would I bother when I have so much useful tat at home?

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  4. The horrific truth is that when I garden, I tend to look much as I do when not gardening, only with filthy feet.....

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    1. I am not sure the differences are tremendously clear to others when I garden: it's the age and state of the jeans and tee shirts and fleeces which changes!

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  5. I wear running gear - not that I can run anywhere, but that sort of wicking material is so comfortable. It's good if you get sweaty and brilliant if you're out in drizzle; it doesn't get soaked like cotton does.
    I also have two dresses that I bought from H&M for £9.99 each for summer - jersey sundress things in a sort of sludgy brown that don't show the dirt but look reasonable(ish) if you suddenly find you have to jump in the car and go to the supermarket or something. I'm with Sue on the sludgy browns and greens. They're practical - and they make me feel professional and efficient.
    In winter I wear trackies with legwarmers. The effect is of plus-fours - but it saves you washing the trackies every five minutes and keeps the bottom of your trousers out of the wet. I find down gilets or fleece gilets (in varying shades of sludge) v useful - they keep you warm but not too warm, and have POCKETS.
    I don't like wearing wellies for gardening. I have an ancient pair of Le Chameau Crocus shoes which are brilliantly comfortable, even with bare feet. I've had them for so long, they should be in a museum but they're still going strong. That's probably why they don't make them any more - no one ever needed a new pair.
    Otherwise ancient Birkenstock clogs (wet weather) and ancient Birkenstock sandals (dry weather). I recently threw a pair of Birkies away because my feet got dirtier from wearing the sandals than they did from gardening. Somewhat disgusting!
    Biggest problem is bras - I find underwired bras rub if you're doing lots of lifting and bending and stretching. Sports bras are perfect.

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    1. I am deeply impressed by the idea of sundresses for gardening! I must have a go at that, assuming it ever stops being below zero up here!

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  6. I also wear my old clothes before they are thrown out. In winter they always have dirty knees and in summer, with shorts, it is my knees that get dirty.

    For gloves, here in New Zealand, I wear Showa 370 but still get my thumb and index finger nails dirty. An old khaki hat that has seen better days but is very comfortable.

    Shoes also tend to be the old pair that have seen better days unless it is wellies in winter.

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    1. Hah, another one with index finger and thumb problems!

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  7. I have about 10 pairs of thin gloves - they are scattered all over the place, wherever I might start to work - in the garage, the shed, the coop. In summer I wear the sort of short socks that go in tennis shoes and then clogs. I can`t bear to be tying and untying shoes, so clogs suit me well. Can`t stand to have muddy feet, so never garden barefoot. In winter it`s heavy socks and clogs. I`d love to waft about in a big hat and gauzy dress, but I`d get hung up in a tree or a blackberry vine.

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    1. I have about five pairs of gloves I think so this may be where I am going wrong - just not enough! Also four out of the five pairs have the aforementioned holes in the thumb and index finger of the right hand. Maybe if there were more pairs they would last better!

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  8. Elizabeth, this is yet another inspiring and wonderfully written post - you never disappoint. I always enjoy your writing and have, therefore, nominated you and your Blog for The Versatile Blogger Award. My post this week includes your nomination and a link to your writing. ~Debra

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    1. Thank you so much for the nomination Debra. I am honoured.

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  9. Hint - if you have been lucky enough to FIND blissfully comfortable jeans - nip off and get two more pairs. Or you'll regret it forever ;~)

    Summer I'm in longish denim shorts, current pair ripped by the roses, and a selection of men's polo shirts in girly colours. Heavy fabric and a loose boxy cut means I can garden without a heavy sweaty silicone prosthesis. Anything meant for women flaunts my nonexistent curve. Winter denim jeans, same polo shirt, with a sweatshirt on top.
    Garden feet live in house sandals, or veldskoen (leather laceups as worn by country farmers) when I'm Gardening not puttering. Add a large white cotton hat on blue sky days year round. And wellies for winter floods!

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    1. You are so right about the jeans. Have been thinking it and not doing yet so you give me a necessary kick up the pants. I am very taken by the idea of leather laceups, must look!

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  10. I love the progression of our clothes; best, good, goodish, gardening! The main thing is comfort - if one's thinking all the time 'can't get this dirty/ripped' it's very inhibiting.

    Footwear is wellies in winter and Birkenstock clogs in summer (a bit like Crocs but without the holes to let the soil and bits in) I go through gloves very quickly and must be a right handed weeder too. What a shame it's not the other way round because we then could make up pairs for each other.

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    1. Birkenstock clogs interest me! Have tried the sandals which are fab when they stop eating your feet and become a second skin but you still end up with filthy feet.

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  11. As I said on Welly womans post - a cashmere jumper is my most important garden wear, light soft, warm, breathable and when you wear it every day (apart from the day it is in the wash) cost per wear - good. Of course, for the first year it is my tidy jumper and only moves to gardening jumper in year 2, and is usually reduced to holes by year 4.
    I do want to know what make your smartish jeans are .... currently all my jeans have far too much stretch ...
    Winter it is walking boots, summer walking sandals with a covered toe.
    All my jumpers and fleeces are pink or purple, so I can find them when I take them off and drop them in the garden!
    I also have a big hat for summer and I never remember moisturiser let alone sun cream. Like Sue, by the end of the summer I have tan marks in all kinds of places, very stripy
    K

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    1. The jeans are a bit expensive for gardening in really. They are Wranglers Tina. I have found the M&S ones which used to work fine much too baggy round the waist too and that is not a problem I normally have!
      you are very classy, gardening in cashmere!

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  12. Like you, I have a pair of jeans that have seen better days. There's also a very large fleece which can accommodate large numbers of layers underneath. then there are the gloves, numerous gloves depending on the task...the favourites are a pair of the NT ones because they are so soft & cosy (but hopeless near anything prickly). I got them heavily reduced in an end of season sale- they didn't stay 'pale' for long...

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    1. It seems very odd to have pale gardening gloves at all! Mine get so mucky so quickly I feel they should all be sludge coloured.

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  13. Any old stuff - though towards the end of last summer I was usually laid back reading while Jane did the work - despite fear of worms she is very into the garden now. As an aside Michelle (VegPlotter) came round yesterday for a natter - she told me your place was FAB!

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    1. Oh, how lovely of her! You must come and see if you get up to my part of North Wales!

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  14. I think I wear what I would not be seen dead in. Far from drop dead gorgeous - old M&S jeans which sadistically slip with a lot of bending, various layers of old Ts depending on the temperature and my fell walking boots which have clocked up miles along the flat. Same in summer other than skunk scented velcro trainers. Never gloves - unless my hands are caked I feel I've only pottered.

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    1. Sounds very like my style, if you can call it style!

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  15. My favourite gloves are made by Briers they have a velcro fastening which means I don't get soil falling down into the glove. I hate it when I take off gloves to find there is just as much soil inside the glove as in my garden!!! They aren't too thin or too thick and most essentially have withstood a multitude of washes in the machine. As for footwear. I have occasionally gone to the allotment in cheap versions of Birkenstocks (from Next)thinking I was only going to pick something up for tea or a bunch of flowers and then several hours later leave the plot after a spot of weeding and pruning and compost turning with feet covered in soil. So I really do only wear wellies. If it's very hot I do end up with very sweaty feet and a slight squelchy noise on the way home but I'm prone to insect bites so I like the fact that my legs are also covered with my wellies.

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    1. Thank you for the glove recommendation ww. I shall seek them out.

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  16. I have a pair of jeans one size too big for me that I wear, they're loose enough for easy bending. This week my husband gave me a new kneeler and with it came a little apron with pockets and I love it, I will wear it all the time I garden.

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    1. I have a gardening friend who gardens wearing a sort of tool belt which sounds like your apron and which always looks supremely useful. Must look out for one.

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  17. Old walking trousers in the garden. I find jeans to restrictive even if they are stretch and too warm in the summer. Feet are walking boots or walking sandals. Would rather garden without gloves, but I have a cat and so do some of my neighbours! Like you, I lose the thumb and index finger tips on the right hand. The only essential you haven't mentioned is dark coloured nail polish so that when you go to work or out to the shops, no one can see all the soil under your nails!!!!

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    1. Old walking trousers are a great idea. I haven't got any which are old enough yet as I made the mistake of throwing my last very tatty pair away.

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  18. I confess that I don't have special gardening clothes but since I'm generally dressed in jeans and t shirt or sweater depending on the season they do just as well for gardeniong as they do for dog-walking or housework. If it's chilly I have an ancient bodywarmer that I wear. The one thing I do have is gardening shoes - an old pair of flat Ecco lace ups which are incredibly comfortable and can be worn all year round.

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    1. I might have to add a body warmer to my piles of ancient fleeces!

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  19. yup, am an "old clothser," though often a "what I'm wearing-er" as, as with everything, I find starting impossible so often take myself by surprise and just think, I'll weed this tiny bit, so don't get changed and then, once I've started I carry on, whatever it is that I am wearing. Although I'm not a very smart sort of person at the best of times. I, too, want to know what these wonder jeans are. Oh, and I hate gloves. Have a couple of skinny pairs for dealing with nettles/thistles/brambles of which I have a depressing number. If push came to shove, I'd say that some weird yellow gloves I've got, fed through with elastic, are the best. They're soft, desperately cheap and are builders' gloves I think, but good at grappling with the nasties.

    On another note, my laptop (primitive? nearly 2 years old) hates your new site, it won't navigate, it moves at whatever speed it chooses and won't let me have a say in which bit I look at. Yours is the only one it strops at showing it has no taste whatsoever!

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    1. I often take myself by surprise too. Sometimes it is the only way to get started, to sort of creep up on it and pretend you are just passing through! I am sorry you have trouble with the blog format. Mostly it seems ok but one or two people have said their laptops don't like it.

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  20. I've made a suggestion about following trees - Loose and Leafy - http://goo.gl/jEAwY

    It would be good to know your thoughts.

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  21. I feel your pain! I am exactly the same about knees and gloves. I end up with patches on patches on the knees, and absolutely caked in mud because I don't bend over but sit, kneel, and rest back on my heels. I do have a pair of velcro fastening pink kneed pads which I bought at a garden centre, but I don't always remember to put them on. And gloves - well, I don't know what to say. I get through them like nobody's business - they get caked in mud too. I always blame it on our soil . . .

    Pomona x

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    1. I don't bend either. I like getting down near the soil and then I end up with it all over my trousers!

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  22. When I first saw your title out of the corner of my eye, I thought it said, What do you wear when blogging? Which seemed a little personal. Glad to have been wrong.

    Here in New Mexico, closed toed shoes are necessary for gardening all summer because of the black widow spiders, so it's old sneakers for me all year round. The lightweight canvas ones aren't TOO, too hot in summer.

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    1. Black widow spiders! Makes me feel quite fond of my slugs, well that might be a step too far.

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  23. I'm very impressed by everyone's special wear - I just wear what I've got on (admittedly, most of the time I'm a scruff). Boots in winter, gardening clogs in summer and on fine winter days. I lose so many gloves that I'm surprised the whole garden isn't covered in them, but they seem to vanish... Borrowers?

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    1. I like the idea of a special race of garden borrowers with a whole lifestyle based on converting my gloves!

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  24. Most of my gardening is done "accidentally", which means that in nice weather I walk outside in my pajamas (sweats and an old tee shirt) in the morning, holding a hot cup of coffee, and then come to myself hours later up to my ankles in dirt, arms all scratched up by rose thorns, gobs of weeds in each hand, wondering where I left my coffee cup.

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    1. You are another like Milla and me marcheline! Accidental gardening is often the best kind. I can get more done that way that when I go out all determined and organised.

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  25. Another one here for clothes that have worked their way down the desirability list. In summer it's one of two pairs of cotton shorts that you can roll the legs up or down and a loose strapless top with shirred elastic round the bust that means I can get a suntan while I work. I wear a rolled up silk square or bandana to hold my hair out of my eyes or a hat if the midges are biting. Summer gardning footwear is Crocs (Harry's cast-offs) or my old Birkenstocks. In winter it's a combination of fleece layers, old jeans or cords (I used to have an old pair of Boden needlecord baggies - massively unflattering but very comfy with their elasticated waist! - that were just perfect) and my Le Chameau neoprene-lined wellies, I have a seven year old pair for gardening, still warm but would leak if I walked through a stream in them! I look fairly shocking when I'm in the garden, but it's the one time I don't care! As for gloves, one of the reps gives me free pairs to try, I wear the ends of the fingers out in no time, so I get through a lot. Always Town and Country, generally thorn proof, I only wear them for rough jobs, don't mind grubby fingers otherwise!

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    1. Deep deep envy of the Le Chameau wellies, even they do leak! I have always fancied them but do now have some very beautiful Hunters which are both waterproof and remarkably comfortable.

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I really love to know what you think and to have the chance to start a conversation. I always try to respond (although sometimes it might take me a day or two to get to you) either here or by visiting you.