March 26, 2010

Dress for the Job You Want

I love Stacy London and Clinton Kelly on TLC's What Not to Wear, even though I have to watch it upstairs on Friday nights so Jim doesn't get hives. There's something immensely appealing to me about the whole makeover idea, starting over fresh and improved and looking so good at the suspenseful Reveal.

One mantra repeated over and over to underemployed victims in grody sweatpants is "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have"; aspirational advice that I intuitively followed when I was working because it made sense, I had a decent figure then, and I liked dressing up each day (except for those years in the 1990s which involved shoulder pads and pantyhose).

But when I retired, I lost my way.

Where were Stacy & Clinton when I headed out into the garden, aspiring to become an amateur arborist?  Where was the ready counsel when I was learning to mulch and spread and deadhead?  

In the garden I wore cast off jeans that didn't fit anymore.  They didn't fit any better when I was weeding on my hands and knees.  They were uncomfortable. 

Digging planting holes, I wore an old bra that rode up, because it didn't matter if it got dirty, and it scooted up even worse when I lifted 5 gallon pots and hauled mulch.

In the yard I wore last year's gym sneakers that got wet and stiffened.  Outdated shirts had buttons missing, which alarmingly revealed the migrating bra.

Finally, this winter, I realized I need to dress for the job I want.  I want to be a gardener.

Happily they make clothes for aspiring landscapers.  I bought them all this winter, gaining an entire new wardrobe en masse, a la What Not to Wear, even throwing away the unfashionable old stuff in a big trashcan, just like they do on the show, with just as violently satisfying effect.

I got Bogs boots (they're in a footwear category called "Women's Agricultural", how can you resist?)  I got pants in my real size (another Stacy / Clintonism: dress the body you have, not the one you want)  They're so spanking clean and fresh but soon to be mud caked and stained.

A nice soft denim shirt, marketed as a fashion item, but to be worn as workwear.  Decent socks, not the old ones that abandoned their elastic after too many years in the gym.

And brand new bras for the girls (you have to watch the show to tolerate that expression without gagging) even though they'll get stretched and dirty.

I'm so excited for my big Reveal this spring as I head out into the yard.  There may be applause, if the daffodils are paying attention.  I still have to get hair and makeup lined up though.


  1. This post is hilarious.

    I've actually hidden from the UPS guy after being out in the garden/ just before hitting the shower. I'm not sure even a makeover could salvage those situations.

  2. I love this show as well, the UK version is even funnier, Trinny and Susannah are always lifting up the makoveree? boobs.
    It is always so embarrassing when I get caught in the garden, not be any stretch of the imagination could it be called attractive. But, I want to see pictures of the garden ensemble.

  3. Love the look of those bogs! Don't worry about the make-up, just get yourself a big pair of glamorous dark sunglasses and use a sultry voice. They won't even notice the compost on your chin ;-)

  4. Laurrie,
    "Bogs" would be way hot here in
    Tennessee, but I've trained my family to gift me "Ladybug" clogs that slip on and off easily when muddy.
    I also wear a denimn shirt and can't bear constricting jeans. An elastic waist is essential when bending so often.
    Don't you love Stacy's wicked tongue? Interesting that Clinton is kinder. Love your writing, too!

  5. Sweet bay, Deborah, and Garden Ms. S: I love to hear how other gardeners are just as dirty, unappealing and embarrassed as I am in the garden. Even with glam sunglasses!

    Laurie: The Bogs are hot here in the north too, but some of the muck I step in is over ankle deep at times! I do love Stacy's snarky tongue, and Clinton is just a sweetie.

  6. Haha! I love what you said about your husband getting hives. Mine seems to get those same 'hives' too...;)


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