Barn Clothes… My Life on the Fashion Don’t List!

I felt compelled to re-post this blog today…  I wrote it in 2010 (only 4 months after I started the blog) !

Barn Clothes… My Life on the Fashion ‘Don’t’ List!

When did this happen?  When did I become a fashion don’t?  I mean, I consider myself somewhat current with all the trends.  Stores in Malibu know me.  I read W and work in the world of film production… how did I go so horribly wrong?

It happened with Barn Clothes.  Instead of picking out my barn clothes with care, they became a classification like “good clothes” or “play clothes”.  I mean there are catalogs filled with fashionable barn clothes.  But for me, somehow, I’ve jumped the shark.  I hear myself saying, “Oh, don’t throw that out, I’ll use it in the barn…”  or “Heck, that’s still good…”  Sound familiar?  When did this happen?  Am I wearing to the barn the “cotton duster” of my era?

OK, backpedaling, perhaps this malfeasance of couture happens out of respect for fashion.  Maybe I am just protecting “nice” clothes from the disgrace of barn use.  Maybe I don’t want to wreck anything good. Or, maybe I’m just cheap.  Dunno.  I do know that I wonder how other barn owners are beautifully coiffed and always look so good when I go to their barns.  I don’t know why I cannot EVER look like that.  I always look like I just chased down a runaway through thickets and barbed wire, navigated a muddy hill, jumped the colt, administered several doctoring things (including stitches) and just made it back to the barn as it started to rain…  I always look disheveled.  Have I given up?   Or maybe it is just situational.

For example, if you go to someone else’s barn, you dress for the occasion.  And, if you are having others over, you tend to spiff up a bit.  But, when it is just you, the horses and the elements, all bets are off.  Situational.

You see, once I had my own barn, that’s when it all started to go to heck in a handbasket.  Having a barn tipped it for me.  Do you know what I mean?  When you have your own barn, no one is there to say anything.  So, for me, my social conscious went out the window.  I think I’m kinda like the Mad Hatter…  Function vs Form.  I mean at first, I was pretty good.  I always wore the right shoes to the barn and had the right amount of fresh clothing for the right task.  But, as time went on, I’ve found myself covering my nightie with my barn coat and tip toeing out in my flip flops to make sure I turned off the water at 10pm. Or, I’ve scuffed out to the barn in my slippers when the ground was “dry enough”.  And, truth to tell, I’ve certainly gone out there without my Victoria Secrets on…

Bless my enduring husband who has seen me with the absolute worst ensembles and has not even allowed a visual start or hiccup in his morning kiss goodbye.  Usually it goes something like this:  I’ve pulled on some pants that are fitting for feeding, a top, an overtop sweatshirt, a barn coat, some type of hat, some socks and appropriate shoes.  Now, not all of this is from the clean pile and not all of it is coordinated.  So, as he leaves (all showered and perfect), he drives by the barn and I emerge, full of hair, hay –and whatever else I was just doing — to reach in through the window and give him a kiss.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in his side view mirror and I let out a little yelp.  Ack!  But, my saintly and very smart hubby never says a word… This morning was one such morning.  And hence this post…  I am going to come clean and tell the world what has happened to me.  Perhaps it will help in the healing…  ;)


Warm Barn CoatIn my classification, the warm barn coat could be anything.  Most often it is from Costco, a Farm store, Salvation Army, a yard sale or perhaps your husband’s discarded work jacket.  The brand names vary from something no one has ever heard of to Woolrich, Carhart or Kirkland, which aren’t really ever associated with fashion so it isn’t really my fault that I’ve gone awry with the Warm Barn Coat.  But, to be honest with myself, the Warm Barn Coat that I own has a twist.  My barn coat has splotches of purple stains around the frayed wrists from applying Thrushbuster.  It has sunny yellow, washed-in permanent stains from worming day.  My coat has two buttons missing and one pocket torn.  However, the pocket that is torn is my left pocket so the coat is still good in my estimation.  Oh, and, let’s not forget, there are no more strings to tighten the hood or the waist so I do look like the Grim Reaper if you see me in silhouette.  I just cannot part with my green and blue plaid friend.  Although its pockets are riddled with hayseeds and other sharp but natural tip-of-finger piercing needles, I cherish it like a nummy blanket.  Why?  I have no idea.  I tell myself it is because I have not been able to find the exact same style again — and there may be a reason for that if you look at the picture provided…

Heavy Duty barn coat:  This is the one you wear all winter.  Underneath, you can hide anything from your jammies to your evening wear and it all stays hay free.  This is the coat that has down feathers, fiberfill or other such warm innerds, a hood that stays tight, a zipper that works and many pockets to stash all your winter needs so you can spend as little time outside as possible.  This coat should have ample pocket storage to house: hay knife, thermometer, stethoscope, extra skull cap, wormer, apple core, hoof pick, Tea Tree spray, reading glasses and carrot pieces.

I generally get a new heavy duty barn coat every year because it takes a beating.  I do wear it everyday, twice a day, rain or shine.  Sadly however, I have never given myself the Irish Oilskin, the Orvis or the Aussie Outback version.  I tend to continue to use whatever I find…   “OMG!  Old Navy has this hideous coat on sale for 70% off!!  I don’t know why no one bought it.  It would be a perfect barn coat!  What color would you say that is?  Pea green what?  Oh, it doesn’t matter… it will be P-E-R-F-E-C-T.”   I have one already ready for next year.  It is two sizes too big and a color not found in nature other than when viewing food that has come up.  But, I am greatly looking forward to ripping off the tags come winter and parading about in my new cold weather barn coat that I got at such a steal!

Good Barn Coat:  This is the coat you wear when you think someone might come by.  This is the coat you run inside and grab when you hear the propane truck come rumbling up the road…  My good barn coat is my Carhart.  It is green, which I think is fashionable since it was a unique color for that year.  It is clean (sort-of) and has all of its snaps and important bits.  But, when I really analyze my choices, I see that my good barn coat is still basically a man’s work coat in size SM.  When did this happen to me?  When did a small sized mens coat become my “good” coat?  I guess it is because I compare it to my other barn goodies..

Barn pants:  I’m a bit saddened to say that my barn pants are probably worse than my barn coats.  I have two categories.  I have warm barn pants and summer barn pants.  Both are not too flattering.  My winter barn pants are actually warm yoga pants that I got from a wonderful catalog called Athleta.  I like them a lot.  The issue is that I have worn them every day for several winters. Yes, they have held up.  But, after a million washings, they don’t quite look like Christie Brinkley in the barn anymore…  My other pants are Kirkland brand, lightweight jammy pants.  You’ve seen them.  They come in packets of 3 and in colors that are only proper on toddlers.  Yup.  I have several pairs of those.  And, I guess if I wore them alone, that would be OK.  But, my offense seems to be with my pairings.  I tend to not notice what I put with my plaid Costco pants.  Therein lies the issue.  Read on…

Barn shirts:  Barn shirts depend solely upon comfort.  What is the temperature?  That is how I decide what to wear on top.  Do I need an underlayer?  Do I need a shirt?  Do I need an outer layer?  I check off each of these categories and pull from whichever clothes piles apply.  Matching never even enters my mind.  Here again, function over form.  I have been caught (the only time my husband actually let out a snigger) in a flowy and flowery printed tank top with my Costco plaid clown bottoms.  I was comfortable and never thought twice.  Yikes.  However, I do enlist the famous Denim work shirt whenever needed.  This is big and baggy yet light weight (actually, it comes in several weights…) so I throw that on when the farrier comes or the vet.  (Looking back, I guess a denim shirt with clown pants is kinda funny, too.  They’ve never said anything.)

Barn shoes:  Barn shoes, for me, depend upon the ground and whether I need to wear socks.  I have my glorious muck boots for that dreadful block of time when the ground becomes mud.  Those are lifesavers — if you have ever left your boot behind you in the mud, you know what I mean — and I love them.  However, I don’t clean them after every use.  I also have my mid range muck boots for slightly loose soil but nothing a good mucker couldn’t handle.  I get a new pair every season because these are my work horses.  And, to round out the list, I have the slip-ons of various persuasions.  These used to be real shoes but then got relegated to the “barn” pile.  These shoes I wear without socks to run down to the barn.  They sit by the door, just waiting for me to slide in and run down to feed.  These guys are dirty, worn to the exact form of my feet and get thrown out after every summer.  And, if I needed to replace any of these beauties, I’d get online and probably do Ebay.  My biggest offense with barn shoes is my occasional act of quickly hopping into my car and heading to town before glancing at my feet and cringing!  Well, at least I threw out my Crocs is all I can say when I do this…  Oy.

Barn hats:  Last but not least, the most hilarious yet serious category, Barn hats.  I am one of those people that wouldn’t be caught dead in a bad hat.  I would go outside in a blizzard hatless then go outside in an ugly head protection device.  Again, the issue of social conscious rears its ugly head.  At home, in my own barn, I have a multitude of awful but fully functional head wear.  My favorite winter number is a hat my husband bought for me.  I think it may have been a joke but I took it seriously.  It is made of yak hair, complete with a top tassle and ties.  I wear it every day during bad weather.  I think I tell myself that if he gave it to me, it has to be OK.  (I can hear him sighing somewhere…)  And on less than awful days, but still hatworthy days, I wear a red skull cap or a very pilly fleece ski cap stolen from Elmer Fudd.  Both leave much to be desired in the fashion arena.  And, here again, function over fashion seems to be my motto.  What I find really funny is that at Xmas last year while shopping at an Import store, I overheard someone in the hat section comment, “Who wears yak anyway??!”  I just smiled and told them how warm it is…

I guess the only redeeming thing here in my life on the fashion Don’t List is that I understand my affliction.  Barnclothesitis.  I’ve got it.  Bad.


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8 comments have been posted...

  1. MARY

    Well, at least you wear clothes to the barn….some hot summer mornings you may find me going to the barn in just my jammie bottoms…LOL

  2. Liz Van Ocker

    You’ve described my wardrobe perfectly!
    I was just thinking about going to Goodwill this weekend for a “new” barn coat! lol
    My pasture backs up to a major truck route and I always get toots when I wear my clown pants!
    Love those truckers – they do know fashion!

  3. Kathy

    Great post, Dawn–I can relate, also! I didn’t know the affliction had a name, but I, too, have barnclothesitis. Since I live in FL and it’s hot and humid most of the year, my barn clothes are different from yours, but they have the same “charm.” Most of my barn clothes are “regular” clothes that I’m ashamed to wear out in public anymore! Except when I have to stop at the feed store for something on the way to the barn where I board my horse. My horse doesn’t care what I look like, just as long as bring his carrots.

  4. Dottie

    This is too hilarious! And soooo relatable. (Is that a word?) My largest accumulation is of barn coats/jackets/hooded sweaties in all sizes and weights. It is, of course, the weather that decides which one goes to the barn. And the hats! I’ve just begun my collection of those. For many years there were only two, and yes, I still have/wear the first one I purchased 20 years ago. It’s original job was to keep me warm during my first hunting trip to Colorado…. It’s been a friend ever since. One thing we all seem to have in common is the tenacity of holding on to things we love because they don’t make them any more. Maybe we should start our own “Barn Clothes” boutique…… We could pre-stain everything with purple Thrushbuster, green Kopertox, white or yellow paste wormer, horse kisses (the grass stain kind), and all those other things that make our clothing unique….. After all, the best thing is that our horses don’t care what we look like – they’re just glad we show up! Perhaps humans could take a lesson or two from them…

  5. kadra

    I laughed so hard!! Thank you, we all have done the jammies and flip flops to check if we turned the water off!!

  6. Gayle

    Dawn, You are a riot. How does this affliction spread so freely? I too am a carrier of this somewhat embarrassing impairment. My “barn” clothes seem to multiply. I have 3 or 4 barn coats. Each did not begin their life in that capacity. You know how it is. You are in a hurry. No time to change because you just need to stop by the barn real quickly, for just a minute. After all ,how dirty can you get in a minute. My first red ski coat became a barn coat after I had to stop by the barn and bring up my horse from the rain and snow. It was a last minute decision on the way home from somewhere. Then Wahla! barn coat. Of coarse being a short ski type coat it wasn’t quite worthy so I bought a Carhart jacket. Mens size small, navy blue with wool lining. Perfect! or not. That coat is so stiff even after washing it for the last 2 years. It does make me look like an authentic ranch person though. A couple of years ago when Sierra Saddlery was having a sale I purchased a nice Ariat riding jacket. I do love this one and it is stylish. I have some credibility in this coat. It is a real riding coat. I am trying to keep it for the activities on top of the horse but all the other necessary duties jump right on top of me with all their various debris being left behind. Another “barn coat” It’s too bad really, but if you think about it, why would you pair any nice pants or shoes with these seasoned officials. My jeans become barn clothes in much the same way as my coats do. Oh to look like the ones who are pressed and have their shirts tucked in. My dream is to someday tuck in a shirt and wear a belt. But I say to myself “I’m at the barn!” And so it goes. My husbands favorite saying is “you look campy” That means don’t go out like that. I will say my only saving grace is the fact I have to go to an office every morning. I would love nothing more than to slip into my favorite jeans with my un-tucked man shirt and call it good. By the way I have never seen you at home but you always looked like a real riding horse person when I see you out and your hubby is a saint.

  7. michelle mck

    Dawn, you are TOOO funny! It’s so nice to hear someone else take about the uglies that are hidden in a horse person’s home, porch, deck, barn, etc.

  8. Suzanne

    I used to buy a new jacket from Costco every year (the zippers would break) and finally splurged on a great, warm, waterproof jacket from L.L. Bean. It’s lasted through three winters now and going strong! Dirty most of the time yes, but intact. I wear fleece pants (hay magnets) in the winter and cover them with ski/rain pants so I stay dry and warm and hayfree. And I too have a fleece Elmer Fudd hat I wouldn’t part with for anything. It’s completely goofy looking but it’s perfect to keep my head (with very short hair) and ears cozy and warm. Oh, I have some Patagonia turtlenecks I only wear for horse chores–I’ve had them for probably nine years and they’re getting quite frayed but I love them and Patagonia doesn’t make them anymore. I haven’t found anything like them to replace them so I’m sure I’ll wear them until they are just threads left. As far as shoes, I have tall Ariat rain boots for when it is pouring that are great, short Ariat rubber boots that are falling apart (and they don’t make them anymore either!) and slip-on leather Ariats for when the ground is dry. On, and when it’s pouring I have an falling apart rain slicker (with rusty fasteners) which is always dirty and hay covered. I have resigned myself to looking very unfashionable around the ranch doing horse things in outfits I wouldn’t be caught dead in off the ranch.

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