Monday, January 21, 2008

The Cross-Dressing Farmer

It all started a few years ago when I stopped into Walmart in search of some cheap workout clothes. Simple sweatpants and sweat jacket, that's all I wanted. I searched the women's clothing section, but there was not a single simple pair of sweat pants anywhere.

I had thought that if any store was going to have plain, cheap clothes, it would be Walmart, but instead there were all these shiny lycra spandex yoga-pants and things with huge stripes and logos.

My husband had just bought himself some simple sweat pants that were as plain and cheap as they could be. Why did they have nothing similar for women? Frustrated, I went and looked at the men's clothing area.

Not only did they have lots and lots of plain, comfy workout sweats with NO ugly stripes or logos, they were all about a third the price of the womens! My solution was obvious---I bought my workout clothes from the men's section.

After we bought this farm and started raising animals, my lifestyle was such that I pretty much wore t-shirts or tank tops every day. And because my work is usually pretty dirty, soon all of my shirts were stained and worn.

When I went to the store to replace them, I learned from my sweat pant discovery, and compared prices of men's and women's basic t-shirts. Once again, the men's shirts were cheaper and sturdier, so I bought those. I see no reason to pay twice as much for shirts that are going to be smeared with dirt, manure, birthing fluid, or whatever, the first time I wear them!

Next came my search for the perfect shorts to wear during our long, hot summers on the farm. I needed them to be loose, sturdy, and come down to my knees so that I could still comfortably carry bales of hay without getting my legs all scratched up. I needed them to have big pockets for those times when I needed to carry half a dozen tubes of horse wormer and still have my hands free for opening gates.

Once more, I searched the women's clothing section with absolutely no luck. Women's shorts were tight, form-fitting, made from flimsy material, and had undersized pockets you could barely put your hand in, much less anything else. These clothes were made for people who wanted to stroll down sidewalks showing off their tans, not for people who actually needed to do physical labor for a living!

So, once again, I looked at the kind of long, loose, sturdy carpenter shorts my husband wears on the farm, and bought myself several similar pairs. They're not exactly shaped for feminine hips, but they're baggy enough that it doesn't matter. They're not particularly attractive, but they're comfortable and stand up to the rigors of doing chores, which is the most important thing.

Last week, frustrated with all of my women's sweaters and long-sleeved t-shirts that are cut to "fashionably" come down only to my waist---paired with the annoying women's jeans that now are all cut to come BELOW the waist, thus leaving a breezy gap that lets in the wintry wind and handfuls of hay chaff every time I do chores---I took one of my husband's long, fleecy shirts and started wearing it around the farm.

It was so cozy and comfortable, I told my husband if he ever wanted to get his favorite shirt back, he'd better take me clothes shopping in the men's section of whatever store he'd bought it in.

So, yesterday I went clothes shopping, and I didn't even bother to look in the women's section. There were sturdy, loose, warm, comfortable men's sweaters and shirts on sale for $4, $5, and $7 each, so I stocked up with enough to keep me warm and comfortable all winter.

It seems a little ridiculous that all the women's clothing I find in the stores nowadays is so inappropriate for my lifestyle. But I guess the truth of the matter is, I have what is often considered a fairly masculine job. My clothes need to be comfortable, sturdy, and able to withstand constant farm dirt. Fashion and beauty really don't enter into it.

I did make one concession to my gender and bought myself a pair of comfy, FEMININE pajamas: a pretty pale green jersey material with lettuce-ruffled edges and soft blue and white stripes.

So, I may dress like a man all day, but at least I can still look like a woman when I sleep.


FullCircleEquine said...

I have been doing exactly what you do for years now. I need to get a pair of sweat pants shortly. Easier to pull on over my swim suit to get to the pool and baggy enough to wear after my swim for the trip home sans undergarments. Heck I still have my dads old work shirts!!! I feel so out of place shopping for "girl" clothes. Although I do indulge in the Victorias Secret panties

Tess said...

Don't know about in the States, but in the UK there's a similar discrepancy over haircuts. Even if a woman has short hair and a man has long hair, prices for women - even in a unisex salon - are higher than for men. I mean what, do we need tougher scissors or something?

Nancy Chase said...

That is true here in the states, too. I avoid that problem my having my husband cut my hair for me. My hair is long and the cut very simple, so I figure he can't mess it up too badly just doing a simple trim!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nancy, I often buy mens clothes too, but usually from Goodwill! Must admit though that I have been looking closely at the "Lady Carhart" line of work clothes at my local Farm and Fleet. They are sturdy, fit a woman's body, and aren't froo-froo-ish, but, sadly...expensive. Argh. Laurie

FullCircleEquine said...

Just had my husband chop about 5 inches from the back. It just doesnt make sense for me to have it "long" with my lifestyle. Of course I always had it up and under a base ball cap anyway. But still.
Got a pair of sweatpants the other day, in the mens dept for $6
couldnt find anything but track pants that were black with hot pink racing stripes. I am going to be 38 for the love of peanuts. I dont need hot pink racing stripes!

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

How funny so many people have the same ideas! The farm clothes lines all came out with a woman's cuts and colors this year---which I tried on the other day. My husband said "yeah---you should buy that jacket the color is nice and it's not too big. Also you won't look like the Michelin man out there like you do in my clothes" hehehe I didn't buy it though---not roomy enough to move comfortably with all the garbage I have to keep in the pockets and carry around. Also---as with all women's clothes---it came up off the belly when my arms were up--the exact stance when lifting hay! I can see it now---hay scratches on my stomach, shirts full of debris, underwear full of chaff. No thanks. Men's clothes it is.