In a few months, I’m hopping a plane to Mississippi to visit my dear friend Haley.  The thing I am most excited to do – even more excited about than the Mississippi River and studying the history of blues music – is exploring abandoned buildings.

Haley has prepared me: I must wear jeans, preferably hiking boots, and socks.  Long sleeve shirts are best unless it’s just too damned hot.  And pockets.  I’ll need lots of pockets, so I can keep my hands free.

Oh, and dark, earthy colors so I don’t get arrested.

Of course, my first thought wasn’t whether I’d end up calling my partner in Seattle asking for bail money.  It was that this list of What To Wear Exploring warranted a shopping trip.


BCBG Vintage Army Style Pant: $198 $99

Guys, this trend officially has a purpose. And these are perfect, because (a) they’re cut at the ankle, which means they’ll fit me normally (shut up), and (b) they’re pleated at the knees for “freedom of movement.”  I’m pretty sure they mean “freedom for Jen to go exploring in them.”

Paige Layne Cargo: $169 $92.95

The model in the other photo is wearing heels too, but for some reason these ones seem more ridiculous.  You’re wearing strappy, “I know they cut into your tendons so don’t lie and tell me they don’t” shoes with rolled-up cargos?  Seriously?

They also don’t have as many pockets.  (Did you see all the pockets in the first photo?  And flaps?  FLAPS.)  Yeah, these are pretty decent, and I really like the dark green (which fits Haley’s description “dark, earthy colors” – better) but for exploration purposes, they’re less perfect.


This is always my favorite part.

The Cool People Machiko: $159 $111.30

These might tie with Wanted for my favorite brown boots.  But, see, I don’t own these.  So I want them more.  You know how it is.

Piperlime Steve Madden Hood: $130 $109.50

Lindsay: “Oh, neat – like Robin Hood.”  Yes: I am robbing from the…graves of abandoned public buildings…um, okay, nevermind.  Still, great boots.  Shut up.

Type Z Huff: $159 $111.30

Unnecessary buckles: two thumbs up.  Side zipper for when I’m exhausted at the end of the day and wondering where I can get some of that sweet tea the south is famous for: even more thumbs up.


Alternative Black Long Sleeve Burnout: $26

I’m pretty sure one should always wear burnouts on adventures.  It should be a rule.  Have you seen a burnout in person, on bare skin?  Its patterning is almost like camouflage, which is a convenience, now isn’t it?  Yes, it is.  But mine would be black.  Because black burnouts are sexy AND camo.  You know, ’cause that’s important when I’m dirty and sweaty in the middle of nowhere.

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Alternative Deep V Pullover Hoodie: $45

Is another pocket (kangaroo style) more important than the protected-but-cool attributes of the burnout?  It has a hood, too.  Protective, or would it catch on things?  …I’m starting to feel a little lost.

Things With Pockets, aka Vests

This is where everything else Haley mentioned – namely vests – comes in.  She said they’re good because they have extra pockets for cameras, phones, car keys and abandoned treasures.  I normally hate vests, but kind of like that I have an excuse to wear one for this trip.  You’re telling me I can buy something I’d almost never wear otherwise just for this one occasion?  It’s like getting married (you know, that dress) without one’s annoying extended family screwing it up.

Gap Lightweight Puffer Vest: $59.50 $29.99-34.99

This model doesn’t want you to know that the vest has pockets, but I’m tell you that it does.  Zippered ones.  And it comes in mustard, black (for night exploring?) and pink…for…pre-teen party exploring?  No.  That sounds gross.  Ignore that.

Piperlime Sanctuary Community Shirt Dress: $130

Pockets!  And it’s a dress!  I could wear it over skinny jeans, or skinny cargos, with boots, and be extra covered up!  It’s genius!  I’m a genius!

Gap Soft Vest
: $59.50

This vest is only on this list because I want it.  It’s made of “new cashmere,” which is totally inappropriate for exploring, and the pockets are too tiny for even the smallest found objects.  I don’t care.  I love it, so I am showing it to you.

What would you wear to explore the wilds of an abandoned Mississippi?

All outdoor/abandonment photos by Haley Mitchell.

  • haley.

    Jen, this is PERFECT. I’ve been looking forward to this post since we dreamed it up (it was like three days ago BUT WHATEVER OKAY SO MUCH EXCITEMENT).

    Now I have an excuse to buy some new things–you’re going to be so chic AND functionally dressed that I’ve got to step up my game. ;]

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  • I’m not sure whether I’m more amused that you’ll be raiding abandoned buildings or that you, as a fashion savvy person, first thought is your abandoned-building-raiding outfit. I think, “what am I going to wear” is always the first thought in my head, so it must be the raiding that I get a kick out of.

    oh, and that GAP vest will be totally useless, but you’re right, it’s a definite necessity simply because it’s pretty.

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  • Personally. I’d wear mace and a baton.

  • There used to be this awesome show on T.V. called “Urban Explorers” about just this sort of thing. They found some pretty sweet stuff.

    Have fun and don’t get arrested.