We lost another shrub to the storms, and with a fair bit of clean up to do, it seems the right time to talk about building a Signature Wardrobe Yard Work Outfit. I have already lost my proto-hedge, and it’s starting to feel like I have offended an elemental force and must make reparation. Especially given that the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting another couple of days of wild weather before it improves, and the State Emergency Service is advising us to batten down the hatches.
It might be time for a sacrificial haircut to appease the fates.
But back to the outfit.
I happen to be in mid-winter, but I don’t think that the clothes that you wear for serious yard work are going to be significantly different in mid-summer. Regardless of the season, the primary purpose of this outfit is protection. You will be physically active outdoors, with exposure to bitey insects, rocks and pointy sticks so there is the potential for bites, cuts and grazes.
There will be bending, reaching, lifting and carrying (or dragging). And I anticipate some standing about sweating, breathing heavily and possibly some bad language as well.
Even though it’s “just” doing yard work, there is no reason why you can’t look stylish while you do it. Clearly, it’s a different stylish to office work or lunches with friends. But you add your personal style by your colour, shape, pattern and fit choices in exactly the same way.
That’s my yard work outfit in the picture above; it’s blue. Straight leg pants, structured shirt, striped wellingtons with pink trim and a baseball cap that what was originally blue. I was also wearing a pink elastic in my hair.
As a list, it does sound a bit planned, but the protective elements were primary. Additionally, dark blue is a practical colour that is excellent for hiding stains that aren’t paint splatters. Importantly, given the option, I chose the available colours I liked the best (navy blue and shocking pink).
Your clothes should be in a thick, durable fabric like denim or another thick cotton. Long sleeves and pants offer the greatest protection. If your hem is close to your ankle, you have less chance of getting caught on things and tripping. Your clothes should not be too loose or too tight, allowing just enough freedom of movement for your tasks. For yard work, I like clothes with pockets for tissues, lip balm, small tools, and so on.
Plain, practical, and comfortable is best. You won’t want to be fiddling with them when you need both hands for the work. I recommend a sports bra to keep your breasts contained and compressed. You’ll be doing a full cardio workout and won’t want them moving too much or getting in the way while you work. (Have a fitting and get the correct size).
Your ideal shoes are steel capped boots for protection from things that fall, trip, get wedged under your toenails or bite you. These days you can get fashion conscious safety boots, but buy a reputable brand and ask to see their specifications to be sure. In winter, or on wet ground, you might prefer wellingtons. However, while they will be good for remaining upright, they won’t be as protective. Supplement your shoes with long socks for additional protection in the gap between your shoe and your pant.
Accessories are also for your protection; some safety glasses and some thick gloves. Depending on what you are doing, you might also want a hard hat for protection from falling branches. A hat of any kind is good for protecting your face from the sun and branches as well as keeping your hair under control.
I don’t recommend that you wear a watch or other jewellery as you can get twigs and branches caught in it. You might damage or lose it and hurt yourself as well. However, you should keep a track of time to make sure that you eat, stay hydrated and take appropriate rest breaks. These breaks will ensure you don’t strain yourself and can still comfortably move when you finish the job. I set a kitchen timer and take a break every hour.
A small trug or other “bag” is handy for carrying your tools.
While I don’t suggest full makeup, you should put some sunscreen on, maybe even tinted. You might like to keep some (tinted) lip balm handy too. You will probably want to pull your hair away from your face as well.
In practice, I wear this outfit for painting and household maintenance too. It contains elements I use in my dog walking outfit as well (the hat, socks, wellingtons and hair elastic). Do you have a designated outfit for your yard work, or do you make it up each time you get to work out there?