Spring Fever for the Rich: Garden Chic

Duchess of Cambridge, Will and Kate, Prince William, Prince of Wales

Will & Kate Pre-baby

This isn’t what I was going to write about today but I just could not resist. An article by Anne Marie Chaker in today’s Wall Street Journal (+WSJ) called “On the Path of Garden-Chic Style” left me speechless. According to this piece, weekend gardeners are adopting high-end, English-made, luxury brand-name outfits to pull out weeds and prune the shrubs. High-end, of course, means high-priced and the prices are outrageous:

  • Ariat riding breeches ($200)
  • Dubarry’s classic Gore-Tex lined, leather Galway boots ($479)
  • Barbour’s Beaufort jacket ($399)
  • Dianne B gardening belt ($58)
  • Burberry and Hermes scarves ($300 to $800)

Not In Your Pajamas

What’s the reason for this spring fashion fling?  Is it to impress the chipmunks or charm the slugs? To make the plants grow faster or the flowers more beautiful? No, it’s three reasons, really.

One is Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, our latest fashion trend-setter, “who is often photographed wearing sporty vests and horsy boots.” She’s actually allergic to horses but was trying to learn to ride, pre-baby bump.

Another is the Downton Abbey influence. Danny Hulse, general manager of Dubarry’s U.S. division, opines that, “Everybody’s secret wish is to transport themselves to a more romantic era and have Mr. Darcy call them while they’re picking the flowers.” Well, gee whiz. Like Mr. Darcy ever got those buckskin breeches dirty or lifted his hand to do anything more strenuous than sipping a glass of sherry.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy

Mr. Darcy

Third, your neighbors can see you while you’re gardening.  What?  You have neighbors close enough to see you working outdoors?  If so, you need a bigger estate.  Get this: One woman, “. . . says she looks forward to Saturday mornings, when she often spends hours clipping boxwood hedges in the formal, three-tiered garden in front of her home. She wears a starched, white button-down shirt (untucked, collar popped) over slim Ralph Lauren khakis tucked into lace-up Wellingtons from Danish designer Ilse Jacobsen. She accessorizes with earrings, pearls and makeup. People can see you while you work in your garden, Ms. Mayton points out. ‘You don’t want to be in your pajamas.’”

Ratty Jeans and Trade-Show Shirts

Back when I had an acre of land with multiple perennial borders, a woodland garden and the shore of a pond to maintain, it would not have occurred to me to garden in my pajamas—not sturdy enough—but I didn’t wear pearls and makeup, either. My neighbors drove by and walked over all the time and I never felt the need to impress them with my $1000+ gardening wardrobe. Nor did I imagine they would think less of me for it. Wrong neighborhood, I guess.

My secret wish? That was to have a full-time gardener who would come tromping up and do the heavy, dirty work. I can guarantee you that he would not have been wearing $500 wellies and riding breeches, even in my best dream. Now that I have a downsized estate to take care of, I still plan to wear “ratty jeans,” with paint stains, and a trade-show tee shirt, the one that says, “Finding your faults, just like Mom.”

Vogue, Borg, Jeri Ryan, Star Trek VoyagerThis article is yet another demonstration of how the 1% spends their money and it’s breathtaking in its arrogance. As one of their fashion mavens says, “Why can’t it be fun? It’s another excuse to fill my wardrobe.” Actually, it’s just another excuse to spend a quantity of money that would support some families for a month because you don’t have to ever think about making ends meet or worry about paying the mortgage or wonder if you’ll ever get another job. 

Am I jealous? Who wouldn’t be? Everyone wants to be so rich you never have to think about money. Somehow, though, I think that even if I did have that much disposable income, I wouldn’t spend it to join the 1% Borgue Collective and look like every other woman who ends up at the Post Office or having coffee in her designer gardening clothes. With no dirt stains on the knees, of course. I’m just comfortable in jeans and a tee shirt.