Yesterday I realised I have become one of the farmer wives whose sense of style so shocked me when I first moved to the country. Back then, fresh from London, I wouldn’t have left the house without dressing up.
Don’t get me wrong, I was never slavishly fashionable, nor perhaps even stylish, but I did take the trouble to assemble an outfit that I looked halfway decent in. And it went without saying that I would be wearing makeup and that my hair would be neat and tidy. On visits to our local store I’d be aghast to see that most women were dressed in the same clothes they’d mucked the horses out in: wellies, poo spattered jodhpurs, holey old jumper, un-brushed hair tied back with baling twine, and no make-up – just glowing from the fresh air. Now I compare myself to those same women and find myself lacking. My standards are so low that I am envious of those ladies who manage to colour co-ordinate their baling twine hair-bands with their wellies. If they only have one sort of animal poo or dog dribble on their trousers then they are verging on being iconic in the fashion stakes.
To illustrate this – every day I visit the post office to despatch customer orders from my shop. Every day I have some light hearted banter with the post office staff who know me as a regular. The other day I did my post office visit enroute for a trip to London. In readiness I was better dressed than usual – no dog hair over my clothes, in a dress, girlie shoes, a bit of lippy and contact lenses instead of specs. I walked into the post office and was greeted as a stranger. Indeed such was the transformation that the postal worker took the trouble to explain how Recorded Delivery works despite the fact that she’s been selling me this service, daily, for about three years. A glass-half-full person would consider it marvellous that I scrub up well enough to become someone altogether more glamorous, but being a glass-half-empty kinda girl it’s clear – the honest truth is that I look like a tramp most of the time. And I possibly smell like one.
I have previously justified the ‘no-care’ look as the only one fitting for a hard working farm girl but we’ve had several junior farmers visit us recently who have disproved this theory. When families come to camp here on the farm their kids come and feed the animals each day and they do so with great enthusiasm – and style. Last week I was accompanied on my rounds by a four year old who fed the chickens wearing a white tutu, stripy leggings and pink wellies – she looked great. There was a very fashion conscious six year old who walked up from the campsite each day ready for farm duties in a sundress, accessorised with a handbag, gladiator sandals and sun umbrella – and having been warned about the risk of nettle stings she still braved the pig paddock with bare legs – all in the name of fashion.
While the animals (and I include Christopher in this category) might not mind if I’m elegantly dressed I would like to avoid sinking further into my rag-bag wardrobe. I don’t want my appearance to start scaring small children, or for village youths to dub me ‘the Hobo of Hobbs Lane’. When I got my legs waxed last week even my beauty therapist laughed at my ‘farmer tan’ (just forearms and face) and I’m not going to tell you about my hands (but if you can tell a woman’s age by her hands then I’m about 112). All this is enough to drive me to drink – except I wouldn’t want people to think my ruddy cheeks are from the booze and not the fresh air.
So while I might not be seen feeding the pigs while wearing a tutu any time soon my new rules of sartorial engagement are:
• Christopher’s cast-off clothes are not flattering on you – he stopped wearing them for a reason – so should you
• You cannot count animal poo on your jumper as accessorising
• Wearing your jeans halfway down your hips (because they don’t fit) does not make you a cool young person, it just gives you builder’s bum
• Wellies are not proper shoes and should not be worn in the high street or on a night out
• Smelling like a goat is not attractive (except to another goat)
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