Babbs in the Woods: If L.L. Bean made women’s camo, would it look frumpy, too?

It’s not like getting a Cabela’s annual catalog that goes thump on your front porch and weighs about 6 pounds dry. It’s a simple 48-page catalog that got my interest piqued because of the beautiful tom turkey on the front cover, under the heading L.L. Bean Hunting.

So, I started thumbing through the catalog, and much to my dismay, there is no women’s camo in there. Unless you want to cross dress, and then, on page 25, there’s a conversion chart titled “For the Right Fit.” Are you kidding me? One thing it doesn’t tell you how to convert is a woman’s chest into a man’s size shirt, or youth model shirt. You know what I mean here. And, let’s not even get into the whole issue of “rise” in pants.

Furthermore, I was delighted to see the photos of more beautiful turkeys – a lineup of four gobblers admiring a hen passing by. They were posing for her. Flip the page and there’s a middle-aged, fur-faced guy walking through the woods with a rifle – under the heading, “Adapt to Any Environment.” Uh, kinda hard to adapt a rifle to an environment that calls for a shotgun. Flip to the next page, and there’s a middle-aged, clean-shaven guy with another rifle. I thought this was all about turkey hunting? Optics, knives and underwear. Aw, come on, you can’t even put any women’s underwear in there? That doesn’t take up much space. I realize that there are only 1.2 million women hunters out there, but hey, that’s a lot of underwear. Are we supposed to wear Y fronts, too?

About the title of this blog … I used to wear L.L. Bean clothes all the time. Then, my daughter delivered the death knell to my fashion sense, when she told me I looked frumpy. I believe I was either wearing a denim jumper and turtleneck sweater or my L.L. Bean Queen’s Royal Regiment plaid skirt with a big safety pin in it coupled with a cardigan or boiled wool jacket. That was back in the late ’90s. She was right. I ditched the frump clothes for basic look-your-age-even-if-you-don’t-want-to plain clothes, lost about 32 pounds, started hunting and took my NRA instructor’s course.

I held on to a melon colored fleece jacket that looks flashy, not frumpy, though. So, I’m thinking, if Bean went into the art of making women’s camo, I might not be able to wear it anyway, because it might have elastic waists or waistbands that came up to an Empire waistline level. Worse yet, it might do what it appears that a lot of the big box stores do with their women’s camo, and that’s cut it down from a man’s pattern till it sort of fits a woman.

But, if you’re not in the market for camo, Otis Technology offers its primo gun cleaning kits in the catalog, and Bean offers a lot of cool stuff for hunting dogs. In fact, the dogs get more items listed for hunting than women do.

And, there’s a hunting hotline where “Everyone is welcome to call for advice on where to hunt or fish and make a purchase if they see fit.” That’s a quote from Leonard Leonwood Bean in 1939. Maybe I’ll call them and ask them if they’re going to make some women’s camo in the future.

~Barbara Baird

  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at


The Conversation

  • Women's Outdoor News says: February 15, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Thanks, Randall. Was listening to your music this weekend. Really enjoy both CDs. Let us know when the one with Brenda’s song gets released.

  • Randall Haley says: February 15, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Yall are right about them folks probably not being too savvy. We’ve probably got more time signing kill tags than they’ve got in the woods.

  • Women's Outdoor News says: February 14, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Melita … that ’90’s flashback thing is scary. It shouldn’t be THAT long ago!
    I also wore anklets and pointy toe Keds tennis shoes.

    Bill … thanks for the compliment. Are you sure you’re not just tired of editing that medical book this week?

  • bbowers says: February 13, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Ha-ha! Barb hits the nail on the head–again–with a beautifully written essay that’s both witty and pointed. L.L. Bean seems to have lost touch with its roots. Mr. Bean was himself a down-home, plain-spoken Yankee outdoorsman (my dad met him once, long ago), and for a long time the company reflected that.

    Now they have geniuses with marketing degrees and catalog “stylists” who might not be able to tell a deer from a brook trout. Just God’s way of saying “Duh.”

    Please send Bean’s managers a link to the Women’s Outdoor News and remind them that women make most household purchasing decisions (which this outdoorsman admits is probably as it should be), and outdoorswomen want clothes made for them, not a chart to tell them how to shoehorn themselves into men’s duds. And tell them gently that you don’t hunt turkeys with rifles.

  • Melita Ellington says: February 12, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Babbs – you crack me up! I was having a 90s flashback of a similar outfit that I recently rid myself of…and there’s nothing worse than trying your best to morph into a man’s cut of clothing. Ugh! And try getting something in some of the smaller markets in, say, Georgia or Arkansas!! It’s ridiculous. Might as well wrap ourselves in camo netting and call it a day.

    And way to bust the rifle toters. Duh – could someone in marketing please do their homework?!? Maybe their technical advisor was trying figure out how to use the bathroom through her Y front.

  • Women's Outdoor News says: February 12, 2010 at 7:38 am

    I’m with you NorCal on that whole Cabela’s thing, and yes, they do make some women’s camo and in particular, a great pair of waders called, uh, oh yeah, Cazadora waders!

  • NorCal Cazadora says: February 11, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    There is still nothing more disappointing than the Cabela’s women’s catalog, which oughta be coming out any day now. All dress clothing, never a single bit of hunting clothing, even though Cabela’s – God bless ’em – makes women’s hunting clothes!

    Oh well, at least we’re in the Cabela’s and Filson’s hunting catalogs. Orvis too, I suppose.