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Barbara Fredricksen | Arts & Entertainment

Fashion's cyclical nature keeps me from giving away clothes

Stick to your plan, Barbara. Even tie-dye will come back eventually.


Stick to your plan, Barbara. Even tie-dye will come back eventually.

After a year of shilly-shallying, mind-changing and eye-rolling, the time has come for a decision.

Like many people in my situation, I've gone back and forth, done the debate thing, changed the criteria — I think it's more popularly called "moving the goalposts" — and sworn to and broken a half-dozen iron-clad rules.

But, as another Texan once famously said, "I'm the decider," and so decide I must.

The question at hand: Shall I put the emerald green silk pantsuit with the Nehru collar into the giveaway bag?

This all started a year ago when I was putting away winter garments and digging out summer things (Florida has eight days of winter, but I have a closet full of winter clothes anyway).

The Rule Back Then was that I could not purchase any new piece of clothing or jewelry unless I gave away a corresponding piece.

That resulted in the status quo, and we all know that America just isn't in the mood for status quo right now, and that includes me and my closet.

So I went for "Operation Obliteration," which said that I cannot buy anything new to wear until I have worn everything that I already own.

That has resulted in some pretty strange outfits, as well as four large bags of clothes going to various thrift stores.

Well, I'm down to the licklog now, as Texans also say, and something has to give.

My problem is that every time I get close to putting something into the giveaway bag, I catch a glimpse of a white sweater I got from Neiman Marcus almost 40 years ago. It is a delicate, lace-like crocheted cardigan, with narrow shoulders that fits close to the body, and during the decades of the huge shoulder pads, dropped shoulder seams and oversized blouses, it looked terribly out of fashion.

But I loved it, had paid a fortune for it and got a little tingle when I glimpsed the hoity-toity label, so I kept it, and now it looks as stylish as anything Carrie Bradshaw ever wore in Sex and the City.

I also remember the Ferragamo shoes with stacked heels that I bought on a 1973 trip to Paris that I gave away just months before round-toed, stacked-heeled shoes came back into fashion.

So I keep shoving stuff deeper into the closet, waiting for the day when psychedelic prints, white patent leather go-go boots, fringed vests and foam-backed knits return to fashion.

Hey, I waited out Byrds-style capes successfully, didn't I?

A different kind of magazine

You sort of expect to see copies of People and Vogue at the hairdresser's, but my guy isn't your ordinary cut-n-curl fellow.

So I wasn't surprised (though he seemed to be) when someone sent him a copy of a magazine launched about a year ago named Garden & Gun, which he graciously passed on to me.

It's a mix of Town & Country Magazine ("America's premiere lifestyle magazine for the affluent"), Architectural Digest ("the international magazine of design") and the Kenyon Review ("to identify exceptionally talented emerging writers").

Only it's aimed at "21st century southern America" and has a distinct Southern tone and point of view.

Garden & Gun is printed on heavy stock paper, not slick like some other upscale publications, but burnished like fine old silver, and filled with luscious color photographs so drenched with Southern charm that you expect the Tarleton Twins (from Gone with the Wind) to emerge from the page with a plate of barbecue from a Twelve Oaks plantation social gathering.

Its advertisers include Beretta guns, a tony development in Destin "for people of privilege," and Yves Delorme of Paris, "fine linens for bed, bath & table."

This is all out of my financial league, but I loved the magazine anyway, from a reminiscence by a longtime friend and protege of writer Eudora Welty to the piece about one of the most gorgeous spots in the world, Puerto Rico's El Yunque rainforest. Mostly about efforts to restore endangered parrots, the article also takes the reader to one of the many cockfighting rings near the entrance to El Yunque — the juxtaposition of tranquility and violence that the magazine's name suggests.

My favorite story was "The Tree Feist," a story about the beloved squirrel-hunting, tree-climbing, terrier-like dogs peculiar to certain areas of the South.

Actually, I don't recall ever meeting anyone who knows about feist dogs outside my native Texas, though the dogs are apparently quite popular throughout the Southeast and, according to the article, were mentioned in writing by William Faulkner, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, all admirers of the breed.

Garden & Gun is aimed toward people who know that tree-hugging conservation wasn't necessarily the basic purpose for the founding of Ducks Unlimited and that when people go shooting with Gramps, they don't stay in "cottages," they stay in "camps," even if the building is a 5,000-square-foot log mansion and the beds have 700-thread count sheets.

Fashion's cyclical nature keeps me from giving away clothes 05/16/08 [Last modified: Saturday, May 17, 2008 12:49am]
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