The farmer as fashion chic: here’s how to start a trend

Last Halloween, my two-year-old niece wanted to dress as a farmer.

Her mom wondered what kind of farmer. One like Aunty Nikki with vegetables and chickens and bees, or a farmer like Grandpa, with cows?” she asked.

My niece opted for “Pampa.”

But when she did dress up as a farmer, she looked nothing like her grandpa or me. The cute plaid shirt, overalls, rubber boots, and straw hat was an outfit that, realistically, no farmer would wear because of its sheer impracticality.

On that Halloween, I too was dressed as a farmer — wearing a pair of hand-me-down patterned leggings from legging parties that were so popular years ago, a ripped plaid jacket, dog-chew-toyesque work boots, and a green toque that held in all of my hair.

A cashier, a 20-year-old dressed head-to-toe in goth, complete with black streaks and a choker, said she was so glad that she was not the only person who dressed up for Halloween.

As I stood there, both confused and impressed by her honesty, I realized how far my fashion had fallen.

When I transitioned from newsroom to farm, I traded in my $200, well-worn flats for a pair of leaky rubber boots, my blazers for fleece-lined plaid jackets, and my blouses for my brother-in-law’s old shirts.

There were no cute overalls; no jeans ripped in the right places; no impeccably clean Blundstone boots.

That “farmer look” that is so magazine-worthy — the one my niece channelled on Halloween — couldn’t be further from reality. The celebrities who wear rubber boots and Blundstone work boots have never had to step foot into a calving pen, just as the urbanites who wear overalls have never had to actually work in a pair of overalls. (From someone who has, I can tell you that going to the bathroom has never been more of a challenge.)

The pretend-worn, unreal-soft plaid shirts American Eagle sells for $40 have nothing on the second, or third-time-used plaid I find at Value Village for $3. The ripped jeans Levi’s advertise have nothing on the authentically ripped second-hand jeans I wear (unfortunately ripped in all the wrong places).

But, in this column, I offer a simple guide to help urbanites to embody the farmer trend. Because, really, Old MacDonald is so last year.

  • First: throw out the overalls and plaid shirts. Forego the distressed jeans and impeccably clean Blundstone boots. Instead, go to a second-hand store and buy yourself a promo shirt. Better yet, steal one from your dad’s dresser.
  • Wear a pair of your sister’s leggings, the most obnoxious ones you can find. If you don’t have a sister, ask your friend’s sister. Find a barbed-wire fence and practice going under, over, and through it a few times. It’s best if you can imagine a spitting-angry mama cow coming at you.
  • Find a pair of work boots with a hole in the sole. Take a trek through a feedlot in spring. Bait your neighbour’s dog with that poo-covered, soggy work boot. Hope you can get it back before it’s completely destroyed.
  • Grab a handful of that feedlot mud mixed with poo and really smush your fingers into it. I want to see nails full of dirt, hand wrinkles full of dirt, old scars full of dirt. Further commit by slamming a hammer into a fingernail, or at least shoving a piece of wood under it so as to get a decent infection.
  • Finally, go to a tanning salon wearing pants, a t-shirt, and your hair up so so it reveals that tender piece of skin at the back of your neck. Don’t even think about using aloe vera.

Ta-da! Farmer chic. You’ll fool anyone from the city into thinking you’ve started a new farmer fashion trend, and anyone from the country into thinking you were born-and-raised there, or at least that you are somebody’s cousin.

And, if not, at least you’ll fool the local cashier into thinking you’re dressed up for Halloween. When it comes to fashion, timing is everything.

Nikki Wiart is a new farmer living in Castor, Alta., writing when her garden, bees, chickens, and pigs allow.

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