Farm fashion – A critique and a request from a farm-her

Maybe my blog should be called.. “I knew the personal was political in a theoretical way but failed to take this seriously” OR “gosh the patriarchy is everywhere even in my pants”.

My sister will gladly tell you that I am not fashion conscious in anyway – I have been sporting a black tank top and jeans of some sorts for twenty years. The politics of clothing is something I am aware of. I know gender queer women and those who prefer masculine clothing struggle to find clothing that fit and are fashionable and comfortable to their liking. My body fits well in women’s clothing so this has not been something I have to deal with on a personal level… but then again the idea that clothing should fit when you bend down, kneel, run, and be comfortable and not expose unwanted skin randomly is something I struggle with… like all the time. Women's clothing fitting doesnt mean they are functional. 

After 10 years of farming I decided to find seasonally and farm appropriate clothing in its own right in place of just wearing cheap or worn out clothing because ‘why invest in something you are going to ruin’. Wait let’s review my amazing logic – I wear work clothing 90% of the time so I should wear whatever I can find cheap and invest my money in clothing I can wear in public 10% of the time and eventually wear on the farm when it is worn out. A little flawed I guess.

So over the past 24 months (inspired by all of my work jeans falling apart and me not having anything to replace them with because I farm and don’t have an off farm job anymore) I have been buying appropriate farm clothing including (gasp) socks and even crazier kind of not the cheapest underwear. Maybe it’s because I am approaching middle age or maybe it’s because I am turning into a radical feminist but I just want pants that don’t show my butt, fit, don’t fall apart, are easy to wash and have reasonable pocket etc for farm tasks including a hammer loop positioned so tools to bang me directly in the knee cap. I want kind of attractive tank tops that look reasonable with my arms and shoulders (based on genetics I had a future in body building) and are long and things that can be washed and worn reasonably in public. So here is my list including critiques of my favorite items.

Farm clothing – the basics

My disclaimer here is that I have a very specific body type – It is neither than of a young or grown man nor that of a “curvy” woman. I am definitively not “apple” or “pear shaped” but I have a butt and enough difference between my waist and hips that I need a belt… need a belt all the time.

Pants- Okay here’s the deal there are now farm women pants that fit me including the longer size 4 Duluth Trading Post pants and Carhartt’s 1889 double kneed canvas pants. I own both and wear them a lot. Both however are “skinny jeans” cut. While this works for pants inside of boots I don’t really understand why these companies make boot cut (over the boots types of pants) in larger sizes but not for people who are thin and smaller. What about being tall and thinner implies that I do not want pants that go over boots? The good things about both of these types of pants, despite the ridiculous leg shape, are that they are high waisted. Sexy? Probably not. But you avoid the famed “bacon strip” aka “the reverse thong” aka lower back/butt burn. If I get skin cancer it will be on my lower back from years of jeans, butt crack showing.

Buy a belt. Again my commitment to fashion is low so my high waisted belted pants keep my butt in. Both actually look reasonable.  

Carhartt MENS unlined duck overalls. Apparently Carhartt’s new women’s overalls are designed for shorter folks – since they don’t have lengths included if your inseam is 32 just don’t go there? I wear a 28 – 32 in men’s which is not something you can buy in stores here but they fit, as do Dickies extra small denim overalls.

Flannel shirts- just give in farm women especially if you live in the Upper Midwest. They are the best thing. Duluth trading post is the best hands down. I basically don’t have breasts but they appear to fit women with long arms and with breasts so bravo. The back gussets mean you can move. I have yet to blow a button or rip armpits or the back. I also have a decent old style Carhartt hand me down from my mom and a bunch of thirft store mens smalls which one by one rip because they are thin.

Period underwear. Seriously not a required farm item but just do it. I feel like I am a sales person for Thinx. They are my nicest underwear confirmed by myself and the person who wants to see me in my underwear, and comfortable, not hot and not gross.

Tank tops. It is just my thing. I don’t understand the tshirt. It is too hot or too cold in all weather. I understand there are people that like these I have no ideas for you. Underarmor fitted tank tops are long enough so are some cheaper target ones (although I blow through the material on these) as are Duluth trading post tank tops (which you can get for $5 at the outlets) and I am sure there are more out there. I also wear underarmor sports bras because they fit and are not soo constrictive that I cant breath. I am sure some people need real bras or have larger breasts. I cannot give any advice.

Boots/shoes- I have a lot of basic request for farm boots and have some good recent suggestion from men. Good thing I can wear a size 7 or 8 mens because otherwise I would be out of luck. I honestly like the Northerner made in the USA cheap boots a lot better than muck or bogs types which I destroy and get sloppy and give me blisters after a season. I buy the $22 made in the USA boots and stick nice $20 insoles in them or steal insoles from running shoes. I do like my Kamik men’s lined boots and Sorrel boots for winter (both men’s and both bulky but warm). I just acquired Jolly garden clogs after admiring those of my friends and neighbors which are great and somehow keep my feet dry. I like chacos sandals in summer (like July-August).

I buy all Carhartt stuff online and all most Duluth stuff at the outlet or online when it is on sale. Both have limited numbers of long small sizes FYI.

My critiques….

What the heck dosmall people do? I know from experience in the real world that there are women smaller than me. I am 5’8 and 135lbs but “smaller than I look” – Duluth trading post only makes their “cute” and “stretch” narrow legged pants in size 2 and 4 because apparently small women are cute not actual people who accomplish work. Also in what alternative universe am I size extra small. It doesn’t even make sense but both Carharrt and Duluth imply that I am the smallest a woman gets.. It just isn’t true.

What the heck Fleet Farm – why cant you recognize that a) women do farm work b) just like for men there are a range of sizes of women c) women don’t want Carhartts scrubs (because apparently nurses go to fleet farm to shop?) I want farm clothing. PLEASE… reasonably sized - many women are under a size 10 who farm, just saying. Also, I know I can order them online but I occasionally like to try on shoes and pants and coats instead of reading 150 Amazon reviews to understand if something might fit me.  

So yes I know there are several types of 140-210 dollar women’s work pants on the market. I am planning on getting some red ants pants when someone who loves me gives them to me as a gift but I would also love to go to a store and find something that in some gosh darn way represents the spectrum of farming reality.  In some future blog I plan to list companies that “treat women as equal people” and also those with the best trustworthy input.