Friday, October 8, 2010

Clothing Clarification

I get asked a lot about what we wear in the ranching profession. Everyone assumes we all dress like these first two pictures all the time. That's a big negative! There are people who dress like this when going to work cattle, sheep or fence...but the general opinion of most people is that the more pressed and perfect they look, the worse they are at actually working. These clothes are worn in more semi-formal settings, and not in day-to-day ranch life unless they are an older, more worn out piece of clothing. There are also lot of us in the ag profession that don't dress like this when we dress up , and prefer more mainstream fashion choices.

This would be classified as a more buckaroo attire for actual ranch work. When I see someone show up to brand/ship/sort/ etc and they look like this girl I just assume they are completely useless. This is based on the fact that every single time I've seen someone show up to do ranch work in a pressed button down shirt, belt with matching buckle, a pressed pair of western brand jeans and nice boots, they have been a total failure on the actual work aspect.
They also usually have chaps or chinks, an assortment of matching tack for their horse, a perfectly shaped hat, and spurs with big, showy, may very well get me bucked off rowels on them. Their brand is prominently displayed on a number of their personal items, they may have a feather in their always present cowboy hat, and they definitely have on boots. Everything usually has a very "look at me" vibe, and in reality makes them look like they're completely useless, whether that's the truth or not.

Photos Courtesy of Sheplers
They usually look so spotless because they don't do anything. They often have the misconception that looking like this makes them look authentic. Big negative there! While there is nothing "wrong" with being dressed nicely, while doing ranch work is hardly the time to be overly concerned with appearances. Your clothes are going to get dirty, ripped and stained, it's a pretty unforgiving environment to wear new/nice clothes in. Farmers and ranchers know this, so you won't see us decked out in our newest outfit for spring planting or fall shipping. It's like wearing your brand new jeans when you're sanding and staining the hardwood floors in your house, it just doesn't make sense.
You will see ranchers dressed like this for non-work related events, such as church, picnics, school functions etc.. where they aren't going to be getting dirty.

This is how every girl I know and grew up around dresses for ranch work. There is no hat, belt, pair of spurs or adornment beyond sunscreen involved. I've had those jeans since high school, and while that particular pair is a western brand, I will wear any of my old worn out jeans for work. You will see girls in old Lucky, Buckle and other name brand jeans. The t-shirt with the sleeves cut off is another staple. Cotton shirts are light-weight, and rolling the sleeves up helps with your summer tan :) We all have light-weight, long sleeve t-shirts for cooler days, and hoodies for winter. Sometimes an old button-up shirt is used for work too.
The shoes I have are are a lace-up boot, and they will never win a fashion show. But they're light-weight, comfortable, and I can do any task in them. My hair is perpetually in a ponytail, out of the way.

Very few ladies I know wear cowboy hats to work in. Some wear caps and others don't wear any hat. Men's work hats are very very rarely shaped well. This is because they are usually an old "nice" hat that was starting to show wear. The hat has also probably been rained and snowed on, tromped, pooped, peed and/or chewed on by a cow, sheep, dog or other animal. If it still has a decent shape to it, you can bet it was just recently converted to a work hat.
Most men wear western shirts. They typically have a number of "light" and "heavy" cotton shirts for warmer and cooler months. New shirts are never used for work, because they get the same treatment as the hats do.

Some guys wear belts, others wear suspenders, and very few wear actual cowboy boots day in and day out. Those are typically saved for days when you dress nicely and aren't working. Most men I know prefer Redwing boots, or the Ariat slip-on shoes.
I know they like Redwings because they last a long time. Most ranchers also mechanic, so footwear has to be something that will hold up to that kind of work and keep the wearer comfortable on a cement floor.

Lots of guys wear caps too, especially when riding a motorcycle or four wheeler. This is how pretty much every male "ranch kid" I know dresses. Up close that shirt has some missing buttons and a couple small tears. The jeans are stained from grease, and those are another pair of Redwing boots.Everything is worn, but still well cared for. Some may wear a t-shirt in the summer months.

But, like I said, we do clean up for non-work related events. Nicely shaped straw or felt hats come out, new jeans are donned, and a newer pair of a favorite shoe, or a nice pair of boots are added.

In the winter months it's the same way. We are more about the reality of staying warm in quality clothing that will last than looking great.

Cows never care how you look anyway.

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