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Wardrobe Design-For less washing, wear and tear  RSS feed

 
Amit Enventres
Posts: 441
Location: Ohio, USA
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I used to think fancy versus outdoor clothes was stupid and same with wearing aprons...until I actually had to follow a dress code and walk around with stain-free clothing that wasn't all black. Back-in-the-day people had wardrobes suited for less washing and less wear-and-tear on certain pieces of clothing. So, overalls over long underwear is a famous one. I was thinking that reverting to a modern-day-ish version of such a thing would be good. I'm sure many of you already do this and know the ins-and-outs. So I'll put my ideas down, and if you have some please add.

Wardrobe Tuning Ideas
-dark clothes last longer than light clothes; patterns help camouflage dirt too.
-full-sized apron in the kitchen
-I always wear a long, worn-out skirt when gardening (it's a tool as well as a clothing item) and worn-out pocketed over-shirt, but some sort of "work jumper" seems like a good idea, like a good jean skirt-overalls, or even something out of light leather, or another tough material. This would rarely be washed because it's intended to be dirty.
-leg warmers/knee pads. My knees, despite the skirt still get ruined, so this would also be double-use.
-thin cotton shirt(s) these would stay stain-free but catch B.O., which means regularly washed, but since they are thin, a lot would be in one load. This, underwear, and when they are necessary: socks. This would save on washing me too.
-The real fasion designing of the outfit would be in between the cotton shirt and the work garment. So, this is were knitted blouses etc. would fit in. These would not need to be washed much because they would never really be exposed to dirt or sweat and being dark in color they would be less prone to stains and use less energy to clean. 

So, rather than washing a full outfit every night, maybe with a few layers, I could reduce the load (theoretically) down to long underwear and socks during winter or a cotton shirt and underpants during summer. A significant reduction in laundry workload (and no need to sort either). At least, that's the theory...what think you?
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 966
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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As with just about every answer in permaculture......it depends. It depends upon how dirty your work is, how much you sweat, if you're working with livestock, etc.

I try to reduce my laundry load, but I still go through a lot of clothes during the week. I start the day out wearing my "decent" clothes for the first hour while I get breakfast together, warm the house up on chilly mornings, tend the cats and dogs, tend the hubby, and do some light house jobs. When I'm ready to do farm work, I change into work clothes, setting my decent clothes aside to be worn again later on in the evening or if I need to run into town for something. Typically I can get three days (or more) of wearing out of the decent clothes before they need laundering.

Work-on-the-farm clothes are a totally different story. Sometimes by lunchtime they are so dirty, grubby, dusty, itchy, or stinky that I change into a new set. I'd say 5 days out of 7 I use two sets of work clothes a day. I'm not talking about a splotch of dirt here, a smear there. I'm saying that I've gotten really, really dirty. And have built up a sweat. And if I've been cleaning out the chicken pen, trimming donkey hooves, or working with the sheep, I smell quite awful. Well....I kind of like some of the smell, but I'm sure that others wouldn't consider it pleasant to smell like a donkey or ram.

My main reason that I couldn't get away with wearing layers or over clothes is that I'm in a warm climate. Thus, I sweat. My main farm work outfit consists of a battered t-shirt and shorts. Anything more is too hot to wear and still work without floating in a pool of sweat. And I really like to get into my work. I suppose a hobby farmer could stay cleaner, like the ones that are pictured in the glossy magazines. But on this farm, I'm serious about having a self sustaining homestead, and that means some down & dirt work.

By the way, I think it's a great idea if one could wear special outer clothing in order to protect the under layers. If I could, I'd slip on an over smock. Let that get dirty so that I could wear the rest of the outfit multiple days. But in my climate, it's simply not going to happen.

 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Here's another take on this idea......

One of my neighbors lives with no electricity except a small generator which he uses to charge two batteries for running his water pump and a couple light bulbs. I think he might also charge his cellphone and tablet, but then again, he might to that at the local library. Anyway, he uses extremely little electricity. Needless to say, he goes to a laundromat to clean his clothes. I was chatting with him today and I brought up this topic. Here's what he had to say......

He has an outfit he wears when using his weedwacker (three days a week). After using it, he hangs it up on the outside line and beats it with a stick until the majority of dust and loose debris is off. Then he hangs it up on the back porch for the next time. He has another outfit he wears when tending his small garden and doing light work outdoors. This he shakes out and hangs on the back porch between uses. He has a "house clothes" outfit which he airs out each evening. Since he only wears it when hanging out around his house, it seldom needs anything done but airing. These various outfits get used for a full month before laundering. Then he also has daily "going to town" clothes, which he changes when they get soiled or develop an odor, but he can extend their use by spot cleaning with a washcloth and hanging them out to air each evening. He told me that he often gets 3-4 days use out of them, but he also said that he always dons fresh clean clothes for appointments. All tolled, he can reduce hid laudramat visits to once a month.
 
Travis Johnson
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Growing up in the 1980's and 1990's on a farm when farming was really looked down upon (my how things have changed), the worse reputation you could get was "always smelling like a barn." Today that still sticks with me and when we do go out, people are often shocked that my wife and I, are often the best-dressed people in the restaurant on a husband-wife date.

My wife; she has her barn clothes that she might wash a few times a year. It is only worn when doing chores and it only takes us an hour or so to do them. Really the only reason they get washed is due to amniotic fluid when all those lambs are born and we have to carry them into the lambing pens. These barn clothes include boots, jacket, sweatshirt, thick socks and gloves.

Me, I am outside a little more and do lots of logging so my clothes often smell a bit like diesel exhaust and chainsaw fumes. In that way my outside clothes get washed more, and I have various jackets. My main go-too is a thick hooded sweatshirt. Carhartt has some, but you have to special order them online. In stores they are rather light, or at best medium in weight. But a hood is great because I can pop it on and off as I go from inside to outside; something I do a lot.

We go to church so our good clothes are not washed as often as you think. They are never stained or dirty, it is just that you don't need to wash something as often when you only wear it a few hours on Sunday and Wednesday. Keeping a few changes of clothes keeps people from thinking you wear the same clothes every week. Occasionally things happen and I miss a stain like yesterday. It was a spot of spilled coffee about the size of a quarter by my collar when I discovered it at church. I was asked to do a presentation on how sheep farming today was similar to farming in the bible, so I was up front speaking. Inevitably when you minimize stuff, you sometimes miss the mark so coping is a life skill. Knowing EVERYONE has done the same thing, had stained clothes in public, I just embrace it with humor. So the first thing I said was, "Okay right up front I want everyone to know I got a coffee stain on my shirt, so now that we got that out of the way..." Everyone laughed and on I went, no big deal.

But as frugal as we are, my wife has just found that cheap clothes are not worth it. They won't fit as well or are as comfortable so they don't get worn as often. Even then they do not last. I absolutely choked when a black miniskirt she bought had a $50 price tag considering what little material it was made of, but she lives out of miniskirts most days, and four years later it looks just as good as when she bought it and is worn far more then her $10 miniskirts bought from Walmart. The same can be said for her Calvin Klein dresses. Expensive, but not when deducted over amount of times worn to price.

Us on a Valentines Date. I guess as full-time farmers we are supposed to wear bib overalls and chew on straw, but we choose to buck the trend.

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