Plaid: The Official Uniform of Outdoor-minded Folk
My first memory of my wife (Mollie) before we started dating was the outfit she wore on our first official meet up. We met at a funeral of a young boy named Jesse (full story here); I had flown out to Wisconsin mid-winter to give his eulogy. A day after the funeral, I had a run in with Mollie while I was still in Wisconsin. She was wearing a red plaid shirt that instantly caught my attention. (She tells me now that the pattern is called “gingham.”) I took keen interest to this shirt and of course to Mollie. A few thoughts went through my mind:
- Cheap Italian pizza tablecloth cover
- Pizza sounds good, we should eat some
- The outdoors
Many of my close friends know me as reserved and shy in front of new people, unless we share a common interest. As I was caught off guard by this beauty in plaid, I was left scrambling for things to talk about without making a fool out of myself. Luckily, of those thoughts that shot across my mind, plaid reminded me of the outdoors and I was able to start a conversation to seek common interests with Mollie—which thankfully, she had.
Following my return to Utah a few days later, Mollie and I stayed in touch via phone and quirky text messages daily. I wasn’t sure where any of it would lead, and neither was she. I wasn’t making any plans to move to the flat vastness of Wisconsin and she knew that. I am severely horizontally challenged, I needed mountains and Wisconsin did not have those.
But what it did have was Mollie and she had plaid, the official uniform of like-minded outdoors people. That was just the bait I needed. She had told me she spent many years as a backcountry camp leader/backpacker/adventurer in the far northern parts of Wisconsin before becoming a professional “fashionista” in the city of Madison. She loved the adventure life but had since lost her way in the hipness of city life that followed her UW-Madison college career. I also couldn’t blame her for making such drastic life changes as that is what college is all about: trying new things, exploring, etc. And she did just that—she turned away from a rural, summer camp life, ditched her Wisconsin accent, and adopted the lights and glory of fashion life. She was living the dream that many city girls wish they could have as a style editor of a women’s magazine. She had become accustomed to life’s little luxuries such as eating fine dining instead of cooking Ramen in backcountry tents. Why would anyone want to leave that?
Mollie and I on a ski expedition in northern Norway. Polarmax’s antimicrobial scent free Maxride PMX Team Shirt keeps my wife happy and loving me even on the longest of expeditions and lack of showering; Photo: Andrew Meehan
Fortunately, I connected all the dots and recognized her hidden cry for help. Her damn plaid shirt was shouting to me, “take me out – get me back outside and into the vertical world! Let me fly again.” After months of debating the rescue of Mollie’s inner spirit, I mustered up the courage to invite her out west. She flew out to visit my (at the time) pathetically furnished dirtbag bachelor pad that included a giant bean bag, lawn furniture for chairs, dining table, mattress, dog kennel, and my year-round fake Christmas tree with ornaments still hung.
As I nervously waited at the baggage claim at the Salt Lake City airport, I finally saw Mollie once again after so many months. She was rocking a plaid shirt and I knew then and there my life was about to change drastically.
Now a few years later we are very happily married and living in the resort town of Whitefish, Montana sharing a home mortgage on 10 acres of land. Far from the big cities, Mollie’s plaid shirt enjoys the night’s stars and a faint fireside scent. Mollie has since adopted many more plaid outfits into her life, while selling off the last of her deemed, “girly girl clothes” on E-Bay to the many girls remaining in the big cities. Lawn furniture no longer fills an empty house, but instead a back porch where it properly belongs. The Christmas tree was packed up and ornaments wrapped in bubble wrap long ago. Our house is filled with shabby-chic mountain cottage décor and the rooms are organized with boxes upon boxes of our combined dirtbag gear. Her high heel shoes have been replaced with sandals, ski boots, hiking, biking, and climbing shoes. And our only child thus far is our sweet dog, Daisy. Life has become much simpler and we openly share common goals to keep our lives as adventurous as we can while also reaching into what we believe is our own personal human spirit. We are a husband and wife team embracing the plaid life together in order to experience the real world.
The plaid life. Mollie: Mountain Khakis – Women’s Peaks Flannel Shirt, Women’s Canyon Cord Pant, SOLE’s Women’s Sigh custom footwear; Sean: Mountain Khakis – Men’s Peaks Flannel Shirt, Men’s Teton Twill Pant – Broadway Fit, SOLE’s Men’s Exhale custom footwear. Photo: Andrew Meehan
When the plaid is on – its time to work. Our expedition filmer/photographer, Andrew Meehan, is all business in the arctic circle of northern Norway; Sean: Mountain Khaki’s Men’s Alpine Utility Pant. Camera recharged and powered in the backcountry by Goal Zero Sherpa 50 with Inverter Solar Recharger Kit. Photo: Chloe Vance
Fresh out of a skittles package – Mollie and I work to match the midnight sun’s everlasting sunset in Norway’s northern reaches with Sessions Outerwear and a fresh layer of Aloe Up. Mollie: Icelantic’s Oracle Ski, Osprey’s Aura 65 Pack, G3 Alpinist High Traction Climbing Skins, Wigwam’s Snow Force, Outdoor Technology Crackalope Yowie headband Sean: Icelantic’s Gemini Splitboard, Spark R&D Splitboard Bindings, Anarchy Heist Goggle, Osprey’s Atmos 65 Pack, G3 Alpinist High Traction Splitboard Climbing Skins, Wigwam’s Snow Xenon Pro. Photo: Chloe Vance