Recently my mother got a chemical burn from a plant while gardening. As most of y'all know, my mom is the President of our inner-city community in Ohio. That means that she heads the beautification projects, etc. And so, whereas many gardeners know what resides in their own yards, my mom & her crew are working in spaces that may have been untouched & unknown. Therefore she had no idea the risk she was taking going directly to a gardening project after work. She works in fitness and so was wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts... y'all my mama's arrrmmmmmmmssss..... chile... I have no words.
But her arms were confirmation for me in my own journey with fashion as a forest school teacher.
Let me back up before the conclusion. I have been in the great outdoor forest spaces for hours in the past few months while building Gather. I am learning plant life - hazards, edible, harmless, "copy-cats," and remedies. Y'all, I have discovered new allergies (and anti-histamine voice loss) & have new eczema flare-ups & tons of bug bites... but I LOVE IT. I adore it so much, combining my love of social justice, kids, liberation, culinary arts, and environmentalism... I was built for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).
BUT I have also been clear that in ALLLLLLL my time (as an adult) in nature and outdoors, I have had the control to leave when I felt uncomfortable. However, as a teacher, I have to stay outdoors, and also I have to model comfort & calmness. And so my uniform is CRITICAL. And for me, fashion is never as simple as buying anything.
And so while thinking about fashion, sustainability, social responsibility, and comfort in the outdoors - this is what I have found: I HAVE TO COVER-UP.
Period. This idea of being cute in a sleeveless shirt under overalls or wearing hiking shorts...ain't fo' me. PERIODT.
Yes, covering up is hot, but I can stay hydrated. Being exposed, on the other hand, for me is painful. It so happens, that Gather's co-creator, Ashley, also has incredibly sensitive skin and so we talk about clothing often. Clothing for our students, our children, and ourselves as we navigate a 10-month-daily voyage outdoors.
And so this forest school teacher's summer uniform has transitioned from jean shorts & a plain (fair-trade, ethical, & sustainable) t-shirt to a lite button-down shirt, (ethical, sustainable, eco-friendly) hiking pants, & socks tucked into boots. Eventually, I will invest in oversized long sleeve linen (sustainable, airy, & lite weight), but for now, old hand-me-down (re-used, thrifted, tattered) workshirts work for me. As the days get cooler, I will most likely move right into my hygge sustainable fall style.
So that's it for now, friends.