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Jazzfest attire: Who wore it better?

The red beans? The beignets and coffee? Or the umbrella one?

Every year I comb my closet for Jazz Fest shirts to fest in. I’ve bought them sporadically over the decades, shelling out for a new one whenever the pattern of that particular year spoke to me. The BayouWear duds debuted in 1991 as a “HowAhYa” riff on their Hawaiian counterparts and were based on that year’s poster. In 1998, textile designer Kathy Schorr took over. Her debut came with the Red Beans and Rice shirt, which I have, and which I love best for the red bean-shaped buttons. That’s a quirk that Schorr has used in many of her Jazz Fest fabrics — unique closers like the redfish buttons on her 2011 Birds of Paradise pieces, or the pick-shaped button on her 2006 Hot Licks apparel.

Choices have broadened in the past few decades, with the patterns adorning everything from skirts and sheaths to umbrellas and aprons. For a short time, they were printed on decorative tiles.

In my younger years, I’d pull out a Jazz Fest shirt for a summer jaunt or vacation, but nowadays they seem a little flamboyant for everyday wear. My official Jazz Fest attire is now relegated to that annual outing at the Fairgrounds.

And perhaps most other BayouWear collectors swim in my generational pool. Because when, last Friday, I decided to photograph Jazz Fest attendees in their official fest apparel, so many seemed … um, a bit on the older and more corpulent side. And when I asked a young friend to snap pictures of people wearing Jazz Fest shirts, she asked if I meant any Hawaiian shirt, or a special one?

Is Jazzfest’s fashion finery only for the AARP crowd?

Nah. As I circled the grounds I spotted fashionistas of all ages, sizes and both genders sporting the official wear. Which prompted this tongue-in-cheek feature purloined from the pages of that celebrity gossip magazine that sometimes falls into my shopping cart:

Who Wore It Better?


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