Clothing Quandary


Being a woman in the field, I have struggled with finding clothing that is not brightly colored or pastel. There is nothing wrong with these colors, but if I want to add such colors to my field clothes repertoire, then it should be on my own terms – not because of my limited choice at a retail store.


Madre de Dios River

My first field experience was working in the Peruvian rainforest observing a claylick that was used by parrots, macaws, and mammals. We were asked to wear neutral colored clothing so as to not distract the birds or bring attention to ourselves. As I was preparing for my trip, I went to an outdoor store in search for quick-dry, cool, SPF long sleeve shirts to protect me from the harsh equatorial sun and the pestering insects that define the rainforest. What I found were purple, yellow, pink, orange, and aquamarine shirts. It was ridiculous. Where were the dark blues, the dark greens, and maroons that I wanted? I did my best with what was before me and  gathered the gray and green pants I found and paired them with the “not-as-bright” purple and khaki shirts. Over the years black has become my best friend.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this dilemma. I’ve never been one for bam in your face “girlie” colored clothing and I’ve become quite frustrated with the lack of options for women. We should not have men and women color options when we go outside. Men are not the only ones who need dark clothing and heck perhaps women are not the only ones who need bright colored clothing!

Over the years, my field wardrobe has shifted and changed depending on where I’ve been and what clothes were required. I’ve learned to add my own splash of excitement, color, ME to an overall neutral color palette of khakis, greys, and greens.

IMG_2125Finding a colorful pair of wool socks that hide underneath my khaki cargo pants.

Wearing a fun colored cowl or beanie that I proudly knitted myself.

Hiding a bright colored tank top underneath layers of jackets and raincoats.

We need others to see that it’s not our clothing that gets us outside, but an encouraging and open community. That is it is less about “feeling like a woman” or “feeling attractive” and more about feeling like yourself.

What is your favorite field clothing item? How do you combat the bright colors or the sea of khaki? Let us know with #FemFieldFashion !

4 thoughts on “Clothing Quandary

  1. My problem isn’t with colors- I always have problems with fit!! Especially with pants. I’ve been researching fleece-lined outdoor pants for weeks and It’s driving me insane, anything you can recommend?


    • Oh man I completely understand your problem! My field pants do not flatter me much and I’ve been tempted to spend more money on nicer pants from REI. Currently for fleece-lined, I bought fleece-lined tights and wear them underneath my field pants and it keeps me warm and adds an extra layer of wind protection! I will post your question to twitter and see if we can get some other ideas!


    • Yeah I completely agree on fit, too! Why are there basically two styles of pants – old man waist or mid-age man waist? It’s almost like field clothes are made by men for men 😉 I also do fleece-lined tights underneath another layer like Lauren.


  2. My favorite is to wear Patagonia capilene undies with cute, colorful prints. Also vote for colorful socks and long underwear that are more “me” underneath black or gray fleece. As for pants that fit — it’s a never-ending quest!


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