Cabin style can be the best kind of style or fashion.
The year my family bought our lake cabin, my mom bought me a pair of jelly shoes. (Jelly shoes, in case you’re wondering, were see-through, bendable footwear made of PVC plastic that were all the rage in the 1980s. Think Crocs, only more transparent with less arch support.) I wanted jelly shoes because I thought they looked cool.
But … after spending a summer at the cabin, I fell in love with my hot pink bendy shoes for an entirely different reason. Besides being water-resistant, it took all of two seconds to slip them off or on, making it easy for me to dash down to the dock at a moment’s notice in order to greet an incoming boater, feed a loaf of bread to a fuzzy family of baby ducklings, or catch a vibrant sunset before the warm, deep glow disappeared on the horizon.
I also appreciated those easy-on shoes whenever my dad would call up from the fire pit that the burning embers were just right for roasting marshmallows. Let’s face it: When an ooey-gooey s’more needs to be made, one simply cannot waste time lacing up tennis shoes.
I loved those jellies, but the following Christmas my parents introduced me to yet another great piece of quick and comfy cabin wear: the soft, warm shammy (chamois) shirt. Beneath our tree, my parents, my brother and I all unwrapped matching camel-colored shammies. Upon slipping it on, I felt like I’d melted into a little piece of heaven.
Over time, our family accumulated matching shammies in several different colors, including powder blue, navy blue, hunter green and fire engine red. When the temps dipped low or the winds picked up, all four of us ran for our shammies. I think what made this particular article of clothing even more special was the fact that none of us ever wore our shammies at home. It was like an unspoken rule that these comfy shirts were reserved solely for the cabin, which just seemed right.
Through the years, my family accumulated additional comfy cabin gear, including a wide assortment of baseball caps, swimsuits and oversized t-shirts. We found that the baseball caps were essential for boat rides, fishing trips, hiking and biking excursions, long walks, and yard work.
All lakehome owners understand the need for swimwear, but it didn’t take us long to figure out we could substitute a swimsuit for an actual daytime outfit without suffering ridicule, questions or raised eyebrows from cabin neighbors. This is because at the cabin, everyone knows that it is perfectly acceptable to change from pajamas into swimwear and then back to pajamas at nightfall. It’s a routine that not only saves on laundry and packing, but also is a pleasant and freeing reminder that when you’re at the cabin, normal rules don’t apply.
Oversized t-shirts came in handy on days when we logged too many hours in the blistering sun, or when we came in from fishing and needed to change out of overly fishy clothes and into something fresh and comfortable. These shirts were also super comfy when stretching out in the hammock, snuggling up together by the fire pit and grilling out on the deck. Heck, we even put our dog Bonnie in big shirts to keep her fur from flying all over the car during our trips to and from the lake.
To this day, however, my all-time favorite “cabin clothes essential” is the big, baggy sweatshirt, which is appropriate for most cabin activities. If it’s a little ripped, tattered, stained or faded – all the better, that just means it’s properly worn in.
You can identify your perfect cabin sweatshirt quite easily: It’s the one you find yourself always gravitating towards … much like the pull of the cabin.
Frequent contributor Christy Heitger-Ewing has retired her original camel-colored shammy, but it – along with the jelly shoes – will always have a special place in Christy’s heart and cabin history.