Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Garden is no place for Sartorial Elegance

Have you ever noticed how t.v. gardeners adopt individual clothing styles to work in the garden?

Carol Kline prefers the wardrobe cast-off look

Sarah Raven with her long skirts, linen blouses and necklaces

Monty Don his French grape pickers look

Alys Fowler, with her, shall we say, very individual style

And Geoff Hamilton, who's uniform was a checked shirt and jeans (always) with a ribbed sweater with elbow patches in winter.

All, in their own way, have a gardening uniform.

 Mine has changed over the years - when I kept smelly goats, overalls were my chosen attire, bib-and-tuckers in the summer.  I have been through several Barbours, which ended up even smellier than the goats, with rips from brambles, pockets hanging off and in a general state of disrepair.

 Coats feature heavily as part of my gardening get-up.    My favourite was a lovatt green thick cord padded anorak type.  I was devasted when the zip broke and I had to find a replacement coat.

  Now my favoured coat is a waterproof, padded, fleece lined, zip up-to-the-neck bomber-type jacket that just falls short of keeping my backside warm.  We have gardened together for several years, washed only when it has become so encrusted with dirt that it stands up on its own.  We are good friends, it is a couple of sizes too big so that I can put plenty of layers underneath, should the occasion arise.  I hope it will keep me company in the garden for a good few years yet.  But when it finally bites the dust, I shall take great care selecting the next garment - after all, a girl must look her best at all times!

But I have forgotten the inimitable Percy Thrower (for you young 'uns he was a gardener in the 50's)

He was always smartly dressed in the garden, never without his attendant pipe.  And think of the old-fashioned gardeners - waistcoats, ties and caps at all times.  How times have changed!


  1. I wear old clothes that I wouldn't be seen outside of the front door in. Nothing elegant about me...
    I sometimes thought Sarah Raven's coats and other clothes were a bit odd. P would like to dress like Monty in the garden but is still working on the look. Seemingly Monty is often asked where he gets his gardening clothes.

  2. I think one of the downsides about having an allotment is that I feel a need to wear slightly less disreputable clothes up there, particularly that I have to walk through the village to get there. In particular I try to avoid the "top keeps pulling away from the trousers at the back" phenomena. Probably why I enjoy being up there in the winter so much, long coats keep me cost and together and hide the dreaful old clothes underneath!

  3. Well they all have to dress properly for the cameras! I favour the 'Compo' look.
    Being comfortable, whatever the weather, is the prime consideration, and lots of pockets. Flighty xx

  4. I'm sure some of my 'girly girly' friends would be devasted if they were to see me in my 'garden outfits' along with hair pulled back, elastic alice band over my ears digusting dirty waterproof and filthy pink gloves!! One of them even asked me a few months ago to promise that I wouldn't stop dyeing my hair and looking after my eyebrows because I live in the country!! Funny enough when I was sitting in the hairdressers a couple of weeks ago, all I was thinking is "I could be getting on with those raised beds now, this is such a waste of time" - actually, note to self, must make appointment for eyebrows, am going to see said friend in a couple of weeks :-)

  5. Oh, dear. Have times really changed? I was rather fond of my waistcoat, tie and pipe look. I shall need a re-think. Hmm, quite like what Sarah's wearing.

  6. Hi Elaine,
    I'm so sorry this really looks like I've stolen your post. I hadn't read your post until this evening when I saw your comment. I guess great minds think alike. Wellywoman

  7. I'm a jeans/trousers and jumper person. Gardening in a skirt...not for me.

  8. I am one of the messy garden dressers. I wear loose clothing...big stained shirts. I never understood those that garden in high fashion, but then to each his or her own.

  9. I love this post,you know how I feel about the stylish Monty! Did you know that Gudrun Sjoden's next catalogue features Alys!

    1. Just wondering how you came across this old post Angela? Yes I had read that they were using Alys' garden for their next fashion shoot.