It’s time to talk Farm Fashion

The time has come for a column on farm fashion. All the chick farm columnists eventually get around to a “what to wear” piece, don’t they? This one is all about what happens when fashion is slave to function and haute couture ain’t in it.

When choosing an outfit for the day, I consider the potential for getting dirty, wet, cold, greasy, dusty, sun-burned, heat-stroked, or photographed for Elle magazine.


The cows have very exacting standards. In forage. In fashion, they’re a bit more chill. Unless, of course, you’re wearing leather.

Evaluation complete, I don yesterday’s work pants, (hopefully, but unlikely) complete with small crescent wrench and pen-knife in the pockets, clean work shirt, work boots (rubber or leather), and make obvious weather-related adjustments. A seasonal ball cap or toque, with occasional forays into wide brimmed sun hats, offers warmth, shade, and hair control. I don’t bother with make-up.

There are two items in my functional farm-chic wardrobe to which a more detailed examination is due. They score particularly low on fashion but shoot the lights out on functionality; a by no means unusual description for just about everything I wear out there. Let us then consider coveralls, and the mosquito bag net.


Anna Helmer gets into her bee-suit, and someone takes a photo and puts it on Facebook.

Until I went to welding class in the city, where we were required to wear coveralls, I had decided against that look for myself.  I tried wearing them a few years ago and felt about as alluring as an old hockey bag. Never having been what you might call an instinctively feminine dresser, I felt wearing coveralls would sever completely any connection to my embattled femininity. I had to draw the line.

In welding school I was not given any choice in the matter and I initially bemoaned my baggy figure. Eventually however, I noticed that my good jeans (worn mistakenly to class) stayed clean, protected by the Big Blues (pet name for my coveralls) which got sooty and smoky. Perhaps, I began to think, there was yet wine to be squeezed from this stone.


Sarah and Simone from Rootdown Organics demonstrate the key farm fashion accessories: soiled pants, rubber boots, cute baby who is actually in charge.

I have come to realize that the coveralls represent a new opportunity for me. I can stay a little cleaner on the farm, and not arrive home resembling a diesel spill in a dust bowl. Not only can I look presentable at the end of the day, but if Elle magazine does happen to show up for a photo shoot, I can be assured of a clean outfit underneath. They will still have to bring their own make-up person.


Alyssa and David from Plenty Wild Farms must have had enough time to shower before their photo shoot. Do farmers really ever look this clean when out in the fields?

Turning now to the mosquito bag net; my choice for most essential farm fashion accessory.

In my net I am bug-free; I blithely disregard the scornful sniggering of other slaves to fashion on the farm, slathered as they are in dodgy chemicals, and/or in a high state of denial over the level of torment they endure as bag-less labourers in mosquito country. There is no bigger slap in the face to high fashion than dropping a bag over your head, but neither can I countenance flies in my eyes.


Bruce Miller models the ultimate in Pemberton farm fashion, the Slow Food Cycle Sunday t-shirt.

To conclude, it would be nice to point to an item in my farm wardrobe that is more fashion than function, but I am at a loss. I suppose my pink John Deere ball cap tilts the balance slightly in favour of glam, but looses ground as its grubbiness increases with every passing day of summer. In an uncharacteristic eruption of reckless consumerism, I have purchased a brand new one for this summer.

Anna Helmer believes farmers are under-represented on the fashion run-way but sort of sympathizes.

Not being able to stage a photo shoot of Anna’s farm fashion moments during planting season, we’ve poached these illustrative photos of Pemberton’s organic farmers in their sartorial best, from photography, via the BC Organic Farmers.