Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

What to wear? What not to wear? Come here to find and how to make anything you'd wear on your body - from goggles and playawear to bodypainting and adornments.
revstevo
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Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby revstevo » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:42 am

Hello! This year will be my first burn, and I will be participating in a work role that will involve long days and being all over the playa. I'm looking for suggestions/advice on comfortable, functional clothing that can be scrounged and/or assembled from thrift store bounty.

I'm totally set for my 'nights off', I'm specifically trying to figure out how to best extend my endurance over long working hours that happen at all hours of the day.

Being that we haven't invented stillsuits yet... I've been looking at various garb that humans who live in dry, hot environments wear. But another consideration is: what can I find at my local thrift stores? I'm not interested in ordering hundreds of dollars of stuff from the internet. I'd rather limit myself to what I can do with some thrift shop hunting, a pair of scissors, and a sewing machine.

Anyone have any recommendations?

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Token
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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby Token » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:21 am

I went full formal and picked up dozens of old tuxedo shirts for next to nothing.

Had enough to change few times a day.

Loads of fun.

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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby some seeing eye » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:41 pm

Large brim hats (with a chin strap for wind made from a ribbon and a spring adjuster toggles.) Old light colored shirts. Very loose cotton pants. Accessories fitting your style. The pith helmet never goes out of style and adapts well to steampunk.

You can't skimp on well broken in shoes, insoles if you like, nylon sock liners if necessary to prevent blisters and a ton of cotton socks, even 2 pairs a day. A spray bottle filled with water, scented/non, on your tool belt. Extra electrolytes. Work gloves, even some light sun blocking gloves - white cotton art handling gloves are very inexpensive in bulk. Obviously a ton of sunscreen and friends to apply it to hard to get to places, and asking for frequent checks ow where burn might be developing.
Last edited by some seeing eye on Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ratty
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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby Ratty » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:05 pm

For 'Work week' I wear long shorts made by cutting off cargo pants. Any baggy cotton pants or shorts will do. Pajama bottoms in bright colors are my favorite. Look in the ladies plus section. Add deep patch pockets for tools and fasteners. A pocket apron is a handy item. To keep cool and not burn I make t-shirts into sunburn capes. (Leaving just enough to cover shoulders.) Carry an extra gallon of water in your bike basket.
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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby Savannah » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:50 pm

Some great advice here (love the tuxedo shirt idea, how fun is that?) . . . & Ratty, that first pic of you smiling is making me homesick.

Revstevo, in addition to Ratty's recommendation of light plus-size pajama pants, see if your local thrift store has any of what I like to call "action pants" . . . for some reason, the closest one in my town has all these hiking pants with two-piece legs (whose lower parts can zip off) by companies like REI and Nike and Columbia, often times virtually new for $7-10 (because active men often get these for birthday or christmas presents, but a wrong fit can mean they wear them once and give them away). Wealthier neighborhoods are more likely to have 'em, but my neighborhood is very ordinary and there are still gems. You can spot hiking pants quickly by looking for the horizontal seam halfway down the leg when you walk down an aisle.
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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby Token » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:02 am

And for the ultimate solution, look up the Google and search various dessert people images. Like the Berber's or Bedouin.

You will notice that few wear pants, everything is based on shrouds and loose fitting long shirts.

Lots of air spaces and many thin layers of cloth.

No pants is a recurring theme.

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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby revstevo » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:40 pm

Thank you everyone for all the suggestions!

I read something that says don't skimp on goggles. I'm seeing military surplus goggles for ~$30, are those good? Dammit, everytime I try to type "goggles" my fingers try to type "google".

I'm also looking into camelbaks. At 1.5g water per day, I figure I'm better off just carrying that much around, as I'll be all over the playa and don't want to have to go back for water.

And for the ultimate solution, look up the Google and search various dessert people images. Like the Berber's or Bedouin.


Yup. :) That's what I've been researching. I'm trying to understand the science of staying comfortable in the environment.

Shemagh
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I like this, after a bunch of event work, I discovered the amazing superpowers of a bandana, and this basically looks like a bandana on steroids. I still don't understand how that doesn't feel stifling in the heat. But... thousands of years of desert living can't be wrong, right?

Thobe
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This, on the other hand, looks comfortable as fuck. I'm thinking the length might be a PITA if I were riding a bicycle, so maybe something shorter.

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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby Ratty » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:17 am

I believe that expensive goggles are a luxury not a necessity. Whatever fits your face, over your glasses, etc...I have several pairs of old ski goggles. I've glued fabric or fur over the rotten/missing foam filters. Don't ever bring anything to the event that you would hate to lose. Things get broken and lost out there.

Bandannas and light weigh loose fitting clothes are a necessity.
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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby Krittercal » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:43 am

Seconding a lot of what others said, with some new tips for man bodies. At thrift stores - caftans/mumus work great (have to hitch them up when bike riding) for covering skin during a hot daytime so you're not getting burnt. Look for larger size women's dresses, find something flowy and light. Old tux shirts are fabulous, but hard to find. Or get light colored men's button up shirts, especially ones with pearl buttons, I love those, and stencil some cool designs on them in metallic paint. Indian style pants in light flowing cotton are great and you can find them in bright colors. Hat is a must for shade. Yes, scarves are great with an arabic style wrap around the face for shade (tip: get it wet and wrap it over your head and its like a mini air conditioner!) Goggles - you don't need anything super expensive - you might be able to find old ski goggles though they can be a little heavy. ATV style goggles work great, and you should be able to get a good pair for $15-$20 tops. Camelback - I always carry a 2 liter and that's perfect for me for a full day out, and I'll sometimes have a extra bottle with me that I can drink electrolytes from.

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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby AntiM » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:56 am

When looking at the caftans/muumuus/flowy dresses, be sure to read the label. You want cotton or a cotton blend. I picked up a few caftans I thought were perfect, but nope, polyester made them stifling.

I prefer gauzy cotton scarves to the shemaugh, as the scarves are lighter, but the principle is the same. I do sew a few of my own.

Hawaiian aloha shirts are also a great pick.
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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby DoctorIknow » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:05 am

revstevo wrote:I will be participating in a work role that will involve long days and being all over the playa.


Clothes as said above.
But "long days" and "all over the playa" spells "how to not load yourself down with stuff to make it thru the day without worrying about white outs." They can be great fun if you are prepared. If you aren't prepared, they will suck your energy and be damned uncomfortable to boot.

So besides clothes, water, sunscreen and a good hat, I find these three items essential:

Mentioned above is the "desert scarf" or "shemagh."
Learn how to wear it... most likely you won't figure it out on your own.
It is NOT a substitute for a dust mask.
Watch the excellent video below for advice on a great 3m dust mask and how to wear the shemagh.

Goggles are great, but take up a lot of space in your day pack.
And buying online you can never be sure if what they advertise as "desert goggles" may indeed have lots of vent holes you will have to fill with tape or glue.
You may want to have goggles in your daypack, but in your pocket you can keep a pair of "onion glasses" (google it) that you can put on instantly.

The 3M mask can be in your pocket.

The shemagh can be put on in about 12 seconds.

With those three things, you can make it thru any whiteout.


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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby Ratty » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:16 am

Krittercal, Do you own the sweet nectar of Nomads store or just work there? Come on...3 posts and all 3 of them push this 'nothing' store like it's special. What about all of the truly great places to shop in S.F? Give it up. Nobody's going to Nectarines.
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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby revstevo » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:48 am

DoctorIknow wrote:Clothes as said above.
But "long days" and "all over the playa" spells "how to not load yourself down with stuff to make it thru the day without worrying about white outs." They can be great fun if you are prepared. If you aren't prepared, they will suck your energy and be damned uncomfortable to boot.


Ahhh thank you doc! Yeah that's the kind of stuff I'm trying to make sure I don't miss.

Re: day pack. Is there anything more clever than a backpack here? Looking at the thobe/shemagh setup, I worry that a pack on my back will constrict the airflow that the garments are supposed to provide. And in all my research, I have yet to see a picture of a bedouin with a backpack. How do those fuckers carry things? Pretty sure I'm not going to be able to source a camel.

AntiM wrote:When looking at the caftans/muumuus/flowy dresses, be sure to read the label. You want cotton or a cotton blend.


I thought I read something that wool/cotton was the best material this kind of stuff, anyone know anything about that?

Krittercal wrote: I love those, and stencil some cool designs on them in metallic paint. Indian style pants in light flowing cotton are great and you can find them in bright colors.


At the risk of freaking everyone out... I think I actually want my "work clothes" to be fairly plain and muted.

I've worked a bunch of commercial "transformational festivals" and the habit I've gotten into is: plain clothes for work-time, and fun clothes for party-time. I find it provides both a reminder to myself and a signal to the people I work with: nerd-t-shirt-and-shorts is SRSBZ stevo, and faux fur jacket and bright orange shirt is SUPERFUNTIME stevo.

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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby Eric » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:08 am

revstevo wrote:I've worked a bunch of commercial "transformational festivals" and the habit I've gotten into is: plain clothes for work-time, and fun clothes for party-time.


Then wear plain clothes when you work & don't worry too much about it. I wear a pair of Carhartt carpenter jeans that I chopped into long shorts for better airflow & a tshirt. I wear a keffiyah pretty much every day as a double-duty head cover & dust mask, that's for work or play (I can put it on in less than a minute, it takes seconds to cover my mouth & nose with layers of cloth if a whiteout happens). Add sunblock & sunglasses and I'm done. Comfort wins.
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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby Savannah » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:22 pm

revstevo wrote:Thank you everyone for all the suggestions!

I read something that says don't skimp on goggles. I'm seeing military surplus goggles for ~$30, are those good? Dammit, everytime I try to type "goggles" my fingers try to type "google".


I like the 10350 Genuine GI Sun Wind & Dust Goggles from Amazon (edited to remove cheesy automatic photo, ugh). You can look them up if you like to; I wear them personally and am not affiliated with the company.

They're only $20 and come with grey and clear lenses, which is helpful because it's quite bright during the day but a clear lense is nice for the less-common night storm.

They're cushy on the face, have a large view, and no vents.


revstevo wrote:
DoctorIknow wrote:Clothes as said above.
But "long days" and "all over the playa" spells "how to not load yourself down with stuff to make it thru the day without worrying about white outs." They can be great fun if you are prepared. If you aren't prepared, they will suck your energy and be damned uncomfortable to boot.


Ahhh thank you doc! Yeah that's the kind of stuff I'm trying to make sure I don't miss.

Re: day pack. Is there anything more clever than a backpack here? Looking at the thobe/shemagh setup, I worry that a pack on my back will constrict the airflow that the garments are supposed to provide. And in all my research, I have yet to see a picture of a bedouin with a backpack. How do those fuckers carry things? Pretty sure I'm not going to be able to source a camel.


We see a lot of utility belts with caribeeners clipped to them carrying various items (military surplus stores are good places to built your own). Here's one of many threads about them, which you can find if you google "utility belt eplaya".

viewtopic.php?t=64753

We also see camelbaks with stuff hanging off of 'em, & obviously there are backpacks, messenger bags, and bike baskets (locking baskets are particularly nice if you can craft or buy one).

The blue robe you were looking at for airflow would indeed be a PITA while on a bike unless you do what I do: tie it into a rosette on one upper thigh while you ride, and make sure your underwear is fit for company. :lol:
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Re: Functional Desert Wear from Thrift Shops

Postby ecoita » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:34 pm

I ordered my cheap ski goggles from China and placed a piece of tape over the bottom hole. Best thing I brought to the playa. Even gifted my spare googles. Plan to order a few more.

I found some military boots at the thrift store and paired them with my comfy socks. Forgot I had them on. Worked, walked, biked, cooked, danced and even took a nap. I brought extra socks for the twice a day swap, but I never had to swap them out.

GoodWill, Salvation Army and other fancier thrift shops are starting to up their prices (at least around here) so you may have to shop around a bit, but many places will hold stuff for you too. Nothing like shopping for BM!!

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