How (BackCountry) White People Dress

According to “What White People Like” my wife and I, as representative older White Persons, should while at home and casual be wearing “performance” Patagonia or North Face–a sign that 1) we are NOT at work and 2) that we are prepared to rush off with friends on short notice to kayak downriver to a stream-side health spa and 3) that we’re willing to pay lots more for pretty ordinary clothes with the “right” label.

Well I’m sorry to disappoint, and this is a warning should you drive down our road (a vanishingly unlikely occurrence unless you are very very lost) and see one of us in our native habitat and garb.

For my part, the attire du jour: a pair of chainsaw-oil-soaked (yes there’s a story there) once rust colored Carhartt work pants, a ten year old sweatshirt (wait: 12 yrs old–has 1996 Olympics logo now that I look) whose arms have tattered to mid-forearm; a Stihl camo cap; a black nylon Thinsulate vest; and my pond-green Muck Boots with the chainsaw-nearmiss scars I never told Ann about.

So there, White Brethren and Sistren. What do YOU wear when nobody’s gonna tell?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Hmmm – appears to be a baggy pair of Levi’s with a (small) hole in the seat and frayed cuffs. Oh, and a VT tee shirt from 2002.

    Perfect attire to go with my copy of the sunday Times and my toasted blueberry bagel this morning!

  2. I’m going to be 65 on March 29, and I wear nothing but blue jeans and T shirts. Now that the younguns never tuck in their shirts, I follow suit, and I have given up my size large shirts gathered at national parks all over the country, because they come way down my thighs. Now I wear boring solid color T’s, size medium, hanging out, pants unbuttoned. Way comfortable!

  3. Weeelll, while in a cast this winter, my easiest and favorite “work at home” outfit was (I hesitate to ‘fess it) a (gulp) dress. BUT I got it at Good Will and it’s truly ugly– denim on top, flannel skirt… but cozy, comfortable. Altho I like to aspire to an active outdoor lifestyle, it must be an illusion, cuz I own none of the brands of aforementioned Performance Clothes. However, I do have a ‘biner on my belt loop for a key chain…

    But, Kathy– Tshirts are de rig for summer, never tucked! Best not come walking up to the door unannounced at this house!

    Boundaries between work and leisure? Say what? Thanks for a fun post, Fred…

  4. I dress like my stylistic icon, Al Borlan on “Home Improvement”. I get flannel shirts for $5.00 on sale everywhere in Feb. For work, I have two pairs of genuine 10 yr.-old work pants from J.C. Penny with the requisite holes and tar stains. For lounging about, I wear navy sweat pants, which does not indicate, as stated on “Seinfeld”, that I have “given up on life”.

  5. We moved here to God’s country in Wythe County with the idea of running around nekkid whenever we wanted. Then I got a good look at myself in the mirror, and that scared me into a pair of sweat pants and whatever T-shirt that is available that doesn’t emphasize the result of nearly 60 years of over indulgence.

  6. I had to roll my eyes at that “What White People Like” blogsite after reading it. I didn’t read all 500-some comments, and after the first 10-12 they all tend to go downhill in relevancy to original post anyway, but not once did I see mention of what rednecks like to wear. Take my uncle or stepfather, for example. If their not wearing Carhartt, it’s Mossy Oak or something from the Cabela’s catalog. As for this redneck, I can’t afford much from any of those hunting or outdoor catalogs. My dad and I went to the army surplus store when I took up deer hunting when I was in high school. I still have that olive drab coat somewhere, but it probably doesn’t fit me anymore.

  7. Interesting post. At home, working outside, it’s holey jeans, ratty sweatshirt and grungy sneakers. Going out to dinner, it’s nice jeans, relatively new sweatshirt and decent looking sneakers or loafers. Brands don’t matter a whole heck of a lot. Unfortunately, work attire is a lot different and a lot more uncomfortable, but at least, I no longer have to wear hose and heels.

  8. As I read it, the What White People Like blog is more about Yuppies than any other group.

    We may be just as concerned about our appearances here in the country, but our concern seems to be about NOT appearing too fashionable in public.

    We have so many ways to accomplish this:

    A trucker hat with earflaps… that will do it.

    Gasoline-soaked pants from chainsawing gives you that special aroma that stays with you for hours.

    T-shirts, sweats, and jeans with matching paint splatters is a good all-purpose wardrobe for casual wear in Floyd.

    Save your Carhartts for “styling” on Friday nights.

  9. I’m 49 and wear blue jeans, a T shirt and an old pair of Nikes (these shoes usually start as work shoes and then become yard shoes) when I get dressed up I wear a newer T shirt. I have friends that wear the more costly stuff and it looks nice but if I can’t get it dirty I don’t want it.