Thursday, 7 July 2016

Country Lifestyle and Looking Presentable

A few years ago my mom introduced me to the Madame Chic series of books by Jennifer L. Scott.  Her books are a light, conversational read that provide many useful tips and concepts to assist you in elevating all areas of your life.  One concept I felt I could really put some effort into was the notion of "looking presentable always".  As a stay-at-home mom, living in a rural setting, I found this particularly challenging to get my head around.  That being said, I really felt like I needed to update my look as I was approaching 40.   I was certain that if I put a bit more effort into my appearance that I would feel better about myself throughout the day. 

I spent a lot of time thinking about and working on this concept, as well as her ten-item wardrobe philosophy.  I figured out a suitable daily "no-makeup" look that I felt comfortable with.  I upgraded my wardrobe from jeans and t-shirts to nicer, well-fitting jeans, nicer tops and great footwear (:  I even put a few dresses in the mix.  I felt great....but I was scared of ruining my nice clothes! One wrong move around here and the damages could be catastrophic....from snags to grease stains.  Here were the challenges I found myself faced with:

  • I live on a rural property with animals that require daily care.  We currently have chickens and ducks.  At one point we had four sheep.  Feeding and watering them is messy!
  • I have a long gravel driveway and drive a truck-style vehicle.  Delicate footwear doesn't jive well with this scenario.  Our chickens are free run so my driveway has hazards to be avoided!
  • I have two boys who are VERY active and into a lot of messy activities.  We often go to the skatepark so they can BMX, or to the pond, or to the beach......  Smearing myself in bicycle grease is a common occurrence when I'm helping with the loading and unloading gear.
  • Exercise is a big part of my life.  Most days include two workouts - a weight program first thing in the morning and then a run when the kids are at school.
  • We burn 3 cords of firewood a year.  Because I'm the one home all day, I pretty much look after the ferrying of this wood from the barn to the house on a daily well as running the stove all day in the cooler months.
  • I'm a gardener!  Most years I've maintained a decent sized vegetable garden and flower beds.  This year the veggies are on the back-burner due to an injury, but I imagine they will return.
When I first looked at this list, I thought what is the point?  I'm constantly doing messy things and I will ruin everything in no time.  I was, however, feeling so great about the new me, that I devised a plan that seems to be working for me.

  • Get the dirty work over with first thing!  As soon as I get up in the morning, I work out doing weights and then a run.  I love starting my day this way.  It gives me energy and such a boost. 
  • Feeding and watering the birds is done right after my workout while I'm still in my workout clothes.  This is also the time I would do things like gather up the garbage, sweep the garage.
  • In the winter, my barn chores also involve bringing in a couple of wheelbarrel loads of firewood and loading up the wood box for the day....again wearing my exercise clothes.
  • Black and other dark colors are my friend.  I need things that just don't show the dirt, which is really inevitable.
  • Washable fabrics are also my friend. 
  • Jeans are still the best choice for me.  I think they can look great and a dark wash skinny really suits my figure.  In the winter I wear dark grey, black and dark blue.  They wash well, the fabric is sturdy and they can be dressed up.  They suit my lifestyle!
  • Don't be lazy and change your clothes if the situation calls for it.  If I'm dressed in a nice blouse for the day and the boys beg me to take them to the skate part.....I change my top to a black t-shirt.  It only takes a minute and I usually have dark jeans on that can handle any messes.  I will also change into Converse sneakers over more delicate shoes.  My husband once caught me piling firewood in a pair of $200 jeans....not a good combination.
  • There is no excuse for not taking the time to have a shower, do my hair and put on some light makeup.  I always feel better about myself.  I can still look cute and pulled together while I'm piling firewood or hanging at the skate park!!!  Even if I'm in "work clothes" I can still have clean hair, a fresh face and my sliver hoop earrings on.
  • Jennifer recommends using an apron, and this is what I do throughout the day.  If I'm cooking, doing light weeding,  loading the woodstove or fetching eggs from the coop, I make sure I have my apron on.  It helps if you have one you really love.  I purchased a beautiful Japanese-style linen apron that goes well with my neutrals-natural look.
  • Putting the "birds to bed" at night is usually delegated to my son or husband.  If I need to go out there, I usually have my PJ's on at this point and throw on a barn coat and rubber boots.  Not presentable by any stretch, but I can't be a perfectionist in this situation.
That about sums it up!   I feel like I've managed to fit "looking presentable always"....or at least most of the time, into my life.  I truly feel great about it and it puts a spring in my step each day!


Fiona Ferris said...

I love the way you've thought this through and made the 'look presentable always' wardrobe suitable for your lifestyle.

The Wool Fairy said...

Thank you! It is still a work in progress and always fun to think of ways to improve my "system".

Stephanie said...

Thanks for sharing! I followed the link you shared under Jennifer's blog. It's good to hear different ideas for how to apply ideals to real living.

BethsMomToo said...

We used to raise sheep. I found coveralls worked well to protect clothing during winter chores & lambing. Each family member had their own "barn coat" specifically for chore use. Both did a good job protecting our clothes.