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Silver Threads: What’s in your closet?

Bettye Anding

Bettye Anding

Did you miss the big party at Lakeside Mall last Saturday, when “flamboyant fashion designer Betsey Johnson” charmed hundreds of fans “packing the ground floor” of the department store showcasing her wares?

Reporter Doug McCash, who found her “adorable,” chronicled her appearance for the T-P and, which is where I found about it. I’d never heard of Ms. Johnson — at least I don’t remember that I had, which is pretty much the same thing when you get to my age. And it shows how far out of the cultural scene I’ve fallen since retirement. Fashion designers used to be part of my “beat.”

Betsey Johnson, though, is 70, which means she has been designing clothes for a while, but you couldn’t tell it from her photos: She has long blond hair and a trim figure, which got me to wondering whether I should grow my own hair out, have it painted a buttercup yellow, and go on that green tea regimen.

But I digress. This column is to be about the clothes I already have, none of which were produced by B.J.

The other day my husband reported that he’d read somewhere that most people wear only about 20 percent of the garments they own. That’s certainly true of him, and I’d put it closer to 10 percent in his case. I’ve already told you how he cut up years ago when I tried to dispose of a tattered jacket he’d had since high school.

Me, I probably fall into the 20 percent category, even though I subscribe to the rule that if you haven’t worn it in two years — get rid of it. I should note here that that doesn’t apply to certain relatively expensive apparel, suitable only for weddings and other dressy occasions. The latter occasions are getting few and far between for us, though, inasmuch as modern society decidedly has a preference for “dressing down.”

Anyhow, I took a look at all the “stuff” in my closet and found a goodly number of things I’ve had for quite a while and worn only enough to defend them from my “two-year” rule. There’s the pretty lavender-blue silk shirt with embroidery around the neck and on the sleeves and the black top with silver embellishments, both of which I almost never wear, and can’t figure out why; the long silk pullover shirt that covers up my hips but that I consider too “good” for everyday use; a half-dozen white linen shirts suitable for wear over tank tops but that need to be starched and ironed at a laundry, which costs money; three pairs of white pants that I invariably spill something on (one of them bears a “dry clean only” tag that I somehow missed noticing at purchase); two pairs of jeans I didn’t try on in the store and that ride just above the hips and not at the waist and are uncomfortable; black and white satin-finished shirts that need to be tucked into the waist of my pants and consequently make me look too fat.

Add three lightweight jackets designed for summer wear but impossible to wear comfortably in New Orleans, half a dozen pairs of heels that I can’t walk around in comfortably or safely anymore, two pairs of sandals with buckles that I’d have to deal with every time I put them on, and several handbags into which I’m too lazy to transfer my belongings every time I’d use them.

In re-reading this inventory, and it’s only a partial one, I’m realizing that it says more about me than I’d have predicted. I’m messy, self-conscious, a tad cheap, terribly lazy, and obviously suffer from attention deficit disorder when shopping for my clothes.

So, what’s in your closet?

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at


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