What to Wear in the Garden

As mentioned previously, we don’t all look like Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal when gardening. A better cinematic portrayal of a gardener was Julianne Moore in the hilarious The Kids are alright – dreadful shorts with red thong showing, floppy hat and muddy face. It may seem ridiculous to even discuss garden wear, surely it is self-evident? Actually I think a few tips are a good idea and here are some things I have learned over the years.*

  • Never ever wear anything remotely ‘good’ or that you are fond of. You are bound to destroy it. This even goes for things like jackets. I had a very nice, expensive winter puffa which I thought would be great for the garden and walking; the first time I wore it in the garden I put an enormous rip in it when thoughtlessly pruning a rose.
  • Wear proper shoes not sandals as even with shoes and socks mud and dirt will miraculously make its way onto your feet. Going semi-barefoot exacerbates the problem and you will end up with hobbit feet.
  • Invest in a sports bra. I cannot count the times I have stood up from a bout of weeding in summer time to chat merrily to an elderly male neighbour, only discover that one of my boobs has been hanging out over the top of my loose tee shirt. A charming sight. Not.  Primark do great sports bras for something like 4 Euros for two – one in black and one in white. Get a nice tight fitting one to save yourself morphing into a horticultural Janet Jackson.
  • Get one of those puffy sleeveless jackets you used to sneer at middle class mumsy women for wearing when you were young. Uniglo do the best, cheap as chips and feather light they keep you really toasty while leaving your arms free and unconstricted. No matter how cold and miserable it is outside you will be boiling in no time once you start working.
  • Only wear rubbish jeans and trousers in the garden, again you will spoil them. If you are a really serious gardener, those little kneeling mats you buy in garden centres will be cast aside in minutes and you will either take the knee out of your trousers or kneel in dog poo.
  • On the subject of trousers, the fashion for low waists means a revolting builder’s bum is inevitable unless you invest in HUGE pants. I have several black pairs (don’t show the dirt) and they come almost up to my armpits. Lovely and cosy and no kidney chills for moi.
  • Try, try, try to always remember to wear gardening gloves. Even with them your hands will be wrecked. Soil is very drying, especially if it limey. Also it is astonishing how quickly blisters and calluses develop from wielding a trowel or secateurs. Only buy light gloves, big suede gauntlets are impossible to work in. Another good tip is before putting on your gloves, scrape your nails across a bar of soap and put on lots of hand cream. When you come in to wash your hands your nails will be relatively clean and marginally less revolting then without doing this.
  • A word on wellies. Only traditional green or black or navy at push are allowed. Fancy ones make you look like an amateur or a teenager off to a rock festival.
  • A pair of clogs kept by the back door are very handy for emergency dashes to prop something up or moving something for shelter –  they are easy to slip on and off.
  • Wear your hair up if you don’t want to be scalped by low lying branches.

*As usual all these helpful bits of sage advice from me are purely aspirational. Walk by me in the garden on any given day this summer and you are sure to find me in flip flops, pyjama shorts and last night’s good silk shirt and smudged makeup which I fell into bed in the night before having been up too late on the tiles.

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