Every year I head up to the beautiful fells and lakes of Cumbria for one of my favourite events of the year. The Keswick Convention is held in the town of… yes you guessed it, Keswick and sees 1,000s of Christian of all ages and creeds turning up for amazing, Biblical teaching. For the last couple of years I have done two weeks, one on the children’s team as a volunteer and one as a regular conventioneer. This poses me with a few conundrums every year in regards to my wardrobe:
- How much can I legitimately pack, carry on a train journey, and not smell of damp by the end of two weeks?
- Where is the line between style and modesty when doing children’s work?
- Where is the practical line between style and camping?
For those of you heading out to festivals this year, question one is no doubt a question you’ve considered (but for two days instead of two weeks). But so often questions of practicality and modesty don’t figure in holiday and festival fashion. So this is also my alternative to the long maxi dresses and tiny little shorts that have been filling blogs and magazines alike this month.
Bottoms: Leggings, Jeans or Shorts
Trousers are a right pain in summer, particularly when camping. No matter how much I want to look glamorous around the campsite in a pair of linen palazzos, I have had to accept to facts. 1) I will always have big thighs, whether fat or muscle, so wide legged trousers will always be tight. 2) Anything flared does not mix well with late night/early morning dew. So that leaves me with three choices: Leggings, Jeans and Shorts.
As is the case for many people, though out most of the year I live in my jeans. But when it comes to Keswick, they can be a double edged sword. They look fantastic with basically any top, from my uniform top for the children’s work to vests and jumpers for camping. But if it’s too hot or too wet they can become a trap of sweaty/damp and tight fabric. My advice is take a maximum of one pair per week. Just make sure you take something else for those days when heat or rain means denim will be a no-no!
I love Marks and Spencers jeans as they are proper denim (no stretchy fake stuff) and have a fantastic fit. For camping it has to be skinny so I’ve got my eye on this particular pair. Being M&S, they should survive at least a year of being lived in.
When it comes to children’s work there is one big rule for me when it comes to style: It must be modesty! So that’s a no to bare legs and short skirts. Equally, when attending a Christian convention, wearing a tunic that only just covers your behind doesn’t really meet the (unofficial) dress code. But have no fear that you will be spending the summer in jeans. My personal saviour has been leggings. Whether worn with skirts or tunics, which will be covered in another post, leggings completely guard against any ‘Marilyn moments’ or other embarrassing positions.
My sister has recommended Pineapple as a good brand for sturdy leggings. A little pricey you might think but as they’re designed for dancers, they’re unlikely be see through when stretched and last more than two weeks camping. And the cropped length keeps it feeling summery. If you worry about bug bites, simply switch to the longer length.
And never bring wet look leggings. One drop of rain and you look like a drowned rat!
Finally, shorts! The final option and one of the trickiest to pull off in terms of modesty. Too long and they can look frumpy. Too short and they may as well be underwear. The answer is to find a pair you’re comfortable in. Style really can be that simple! But avoid the ones that are cut to show off your bum cheeks- no one wants to see that! And then pair the right top with them. I’ll be covering tops in another post but basically, if they’re long shorts stick with fitted, sporty t-shirts. If the shorts are, well, short, then floaty tops that don’t cover your actual shorts look great. But mostly, be practical and comfy… modesty tends to just happen if those are your aims.
I’m going to stick to mid length shorts for myself. I don’t have the thighs or confidence for anything shorter but mid length and fitted is a look most people can do. And in short form, denim isn’t nearly as lethal a trap when it’s too hot. But if you’re worried, then check out some chino shorts (New Look
have some here
). Equally versatile.
So that’s my guide to what to wear on your bottom half when working with children or camping. (Skirts will be covered with dresses and tunics). Have I missed anything major out? Or is there anything you disagree with? Let me know.