the muddy hem sisterhood

I wear only dresses. Cycling, clambering over broken rocks, boating, forest-wandering, grass-wading, climbing stiles and fences, making a cautious path through dirty fields of sheep : all done in long drifty skirts. It's actually perfectly easy, and I imagine women all down the centuries have managed wonderful adventures in their long skirts and petticoats. There's something quietly fulfilling about coming home trailing dust, brambles, tiny white wings of dandelion clocks, or with a sea-soaked hem clinging to your ankles. It reminds a woman that she is part of the furry brown body of the goddess.




Over at instagram, the marvellous Bryony Whistlecraft responded to my photograph (above) with the idea of an embroidered badge for those who belong to the sisterhood of Muddy Hems : women who ramble around the countryside in impractical dresses. (The gorgeous Kerrie came up with the phrase Muddy Hem Sisterhood.)

I love this idea, and am excited to see what Bryony might create. It made me imagine that perhaps I am not so unusual, as I appear to be in my particular neck of the woods where the women all wear sensible trousers (or skirts above the knee) and don't go out unnecessarily in feral conditions.

I like to think of a coterie of women who seem to have stepped out of old, irreverent stories to wade the wild places, their skirts like full moons, like billowing winds, like the voluptuous imaginations of strange girls everywhere, trawling the world for tiny bits of magic.


37 comments:

  1. I love this : ) So very much. Especially as someone who doesn't own a pair of jeans, and who rambles on feral days in skirts and layers. I suspect the Muddy Hem Sisterhood is filled with kindreds ; ) xx

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    1. Its so annoying to me that you are not my next door neighbour :-)

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  2. So excited that the idea of The Muddy Hems has captured the imagination of new women. We called ourselves the Enchanted Sisters of the Muddy Hem, to give it the full and proper title, for we are a little magical as well as impractical ;) Coming home from a ramble or forage and picking off the brambles and burrs from my usually damp, if not muddy (and occasionally torn) skirt hem is all part of the adventure of connection with the land.

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    1. Apologies, not sure why this posted twice!

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    2. I hope I haven't encroached ... I was inspired by your idea and Kerrie's name, I hope it doesn't seem like I have presented it as my own concept or anything. It just enchanted me to think there may be other women out there like me. Thank you for having shared it.

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    3. Not at all :) It's lovely that the idea is appealing to people

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  3. So excited that the idea of The Muddy Hems has captured the imagination of new women. We called ourselves the Enchanted Sisters of the Muddy Hem, to give it the full and proper title, for we are a little magical as well as impractical ;) Coming home from a ramble or forage and picking off the brambles and burrs from my usually damp, if not muddy (and occasionally torn) skirt hem is all part of the adventure of connection with the land.

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  4. I love this. I've always thought it very romantic to walk through the woods and fields in long skirts, but felt that maybe it would ruin my clothes. And...I kind of like to be invisible, and wearing skirts makes people look. Maybe Muddy Hems could be a support group :)

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    1. I have never ruined any piece of clothing by going out in fields and woods, even in the rain. The other day I wore a long white cotton dress across a meadow and through a wood, over rather squishy ground, navigating tree roots and pinecones, and the dress didn't even need washing.

      I have no idea if people look at me because I'm wearing a skirt or not. I've never worn anything else since childhood (except harem pants as a teenager) so perhaps they do look but I've zoned it out over the years. I do know that I spent a couple of years not wearing antique lace blouses because I was scared people would laugh at me, but when I did all I got was comments from other women about how much they liked it. Again, maybe I also got looks - but the way to solve that is to live in a little universe of your own, seeing magic everywhere, and on the whole ignoring all the people. :-)

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    2. Yes, I think so. I think I will practice, wearing pretty things more and more often. Clothing that makes me feel magical :) It might even help me write something.

      It's interesting that your clothes never got ruined. I have walked through the forest wearing a long skirt, and it's true that it didn't get ruined. Though I did bring home with me a twig or two stuck in it lol.

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    3. Clothes are an important part of writing for me.

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  5. count me in for the sisterhood...i pretty much loathe trousers, haven't owned a pair of shorts since my last physical education class in, oh, the 80s, and go about my life in long skirts. in summer, that may mean waffling about in a long gauzy skirt and a bra---actually, that's what i wear to mow the lawn---but my wardrobe largely consists of long dresses and long skirts and layers to go with those. people think it rather odd, on occasion (hiking? in a skirt?), but i'm not one to care about that.

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    1. Gosh, why can't y'all come and live in New Zealand??

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  6. I wish that is me but I've been wearing pants far to long to remember wearing dresses, perhaps I should start?

    lovely, lovely thoughts here, have a sweet day.

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    1. You should just be yourself, I reckon. :-) As I said to Susan, clothes are only one part of the concept, in my opinion.

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  7. I am trying to replace cotton pants, with cotton skirts...

    They can be made quite easily. Just run some narrow elastic through the length of a piece of material. And sew the sides together. Hem. Done. Skirt, ready to wear.

    And it's just a piece of cotton. No tears shed, over a muddy hem. Just wash.

    Luna Crone

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    1. Its great when you are able to make your own clothes.

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    2. Oh dear! All I can make, is these very simple gathered skirts! Would love to be able to follow patterns, like accomplished women can.

      But I'm trying to be content, what I can do.

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  8. I love this idea! I'm not very fond of pants, mostly wearing skirts when I'm out and about. I tend toward yoga pants when home for pulling weeds in the patio garden or on my walks. I'm rethinking this now. :-)
    blessings
    ~*~

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  9. I hope people look beyond my clothes and my hairstyle to my heart. I do love the idea of long billowy skirts; but they just look awful on my short, stocky frame. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be accepted in your lovely sisterhood.

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    1. Absolutely you would be accepted in if I had any say over it. But I must tell you, I am five foot tall and not slender, and I feel the opposite from you - that pants look awful on me. Even if I wanted to wear them, I would feel that I couldn't. Clothes are only part of the concept of being a nature-loving wandering woman, I believe.

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    2. Dear Susan, I am short! And much over weight! And so, to tell the truth, not much looks "good" on me. So I might as well wear, what I want to wear. Sezzzzzzz I....

      If we don't give ourselves permission, to dress as we choose, who will give it to us?

      Gentle hugs,
      Luna Crone

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  10. I would only earn half a badge :) I do love my long maxi skirts but also have a love for all of my harem and linen pants. Anything loose is the way to go :) When I put on a skirt though, I will say...my whole attitude about life seems to change. One of the best feelings in barefeet grazed by a soft hem.

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  11. I'm afraid I wouldn't quite fit in. I wear jeans exclusively, men's jeans, and don't own a skirt or dress. But the idea of muddy hems is delightful.

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  12. This is so beautiful Sarah. I do believe there is and always will be a sisterhood of us muddy hem drifty peticoat women scattered across the earth. We may be hidden in the forests, woods, meadows, prairies, lakes, brooks and sea but we are here...I am here in my long skirts sea soaked at the hem and tattered from the thorns of roses in the garden. It is so lovely to find through YOU that I am among friends in my daily wardrobe of long ruffled skirts. I will wear a stiched badge of sisterhood on my heart.

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    1. <3 thank you for the title of it, my dear Kerrie.

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  13. I've been contemplating the concept because I'm drawn to roomy, drapy clothes now rather than jeans, but living in a chilly, windy climate my concern has been cold legs. I freeze easily, even in trousers I can come home with ice cold knees and thighs (possibly it's not the fault of the temps, but the amount of lard). And in summer, well, they get sweaty and stick! Since we're discussing mud I hope it's not inappropriate to bring up this semi intimate conundrum. ;-) And don't tell me layers, because I'm short and stocky too and don't want people to think it's easier to step over me than around!

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    1. As I said to Abby below, tights have always worked better for me than jeans when it comes to warmth, perhaps because they're woolen and don't lose their heat when wet. But ultimately comfort should be more important to you than concept, and if trousers suit you better then go with those.

      I have been thinking about the people who have replied to this saying they wear pants, and wondering if I should write some caveat or apology. I decided against it. We can't all belong to every sisterhood, and nor should we. The dress-wearing women can celebrate one shared connection - but we all have lots of different connections, and whatever we wear. I hope no one feels left out because they don't wear dresses. So I say wear pants and be comfortable in yourself, sister :-)

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  14. I pretty much wear only jeans, but what I love about this post is the point of being who we are and not being afraid of our own comfort zone.

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    1. YES yes yes yes. That's exactly it!! I have written for years about loving our comfort zones and appreciating the strength and self-integrity they offer. Your comment makes me so happy :-) <3

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  15. I love dresses. The majority of my wardrobe is comprised of skirts and dresses... not until moving to Paris did I acquire a pair of pants (I now own three), as the winters can be chilly here. I still rarely wear them, though, usually opting for thick, cozy tights and one of those aforementioned dresses.

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    1. I used to wear jeans and pants as a child and so I know they are nowhere near as warm as a good pair of thick tights (or even two). I go out in the depths of winter in a dress, no tights, and so long as my core is warm and my head is covered, my legs don't uffer at all. But of course we don't have snow here.

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  16. Loving our comfort zone - how wonderful! I too wear sweeping skirts but, owing to unsightly veins on my legs and feet, only with prairie boots in the winter ( and for as long as possible into the Spring!). The summer finds me opting for gauzy harem pants or linen trousers layered with long 'natural' dresses / tops which seems like the next best thing. What a joy not to be bound by what the media purports - what a joy to be connected by our individualism! Love your blog, thank you.

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  17. I love this and I too so often wear long and drifty skirts on my rambles. I love coming home with muddy shoes and trailing bits of twig and leaf. It is very hard to explain to anyone (other than the people here I see) how happy it makes me. Hoorah for the muddy hem sisterhood! xx

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