In the ever-expanding world of self-important celebrities, one of the common questions, especially asked of women, is, “Who are you wearing?”
This uppity question bounces around the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the Emmys, fancy black-tie dinners and the White House.
What these people want to know is the brand name — the designer’s name — of the dress that the woman on the Red Carpet is almost wearing.
A suitable answer would be John Galliano or Colleen Atwood or Coco Chanel. You never hear anyone mention Red Camel, Liz Claiborne or Fruit of the Loom.
Expensive designer clothes, if you ask me, are overrated and overemphasized. Just look at all of the pomp and pageantry that swirl around Prince William and Kate and everything they wear. It’s news, apparently, when Kate wears the same dress twice. Who would think of such a thing? Apparently doesn’t bother Kate, but fashion snobs seem to be surprised at the idea.
I wouldn’t know a Christian Dior from a veal cutlet, but I know a good name in men’s clothing when I hear it. I’m not talking about who designed the garment. I’m talking about who wore it.
For example, I wear a denim jacket by Edwin Hudgins. That was my father, a railroad man. I own a jumper coat by Barto Hudgins. That was my grandfather, a farmer. I have a Coca-Cola jacket by Dean Stevens, an employee of Coke. That was my uncle.
And now I’m wearing shoes by Bill Dupree, right-hand man for a builder of custom homes. That was my friend.
Bill died about 18 months ago, leaving our neighborhood without the friendliest, most natural smile in the whole county. Everybody loved Bill Dupree. He was a kind, godly man who always had a good word to share. He could brighten your day.
His death has left a huge void in the Dupree home, and his widow, Sue, has decided to move. She dreaded packing up Bill’s things, so she asked a number of friends, including my wife and me, to help one Sunday afternoon.
We packed Bill’s clothes. Boxes of clothes. You wouldn’t know it — he wasn’t one to say anything — but Bill obviously loved clothes. And it was our job to find new homes for Bill’s shirts and pants and suits and shorts and sweaters and sweats and ties.
That’s what we did. We found new homes. My brother will be wearing Bill Dupree suits. My next-door neighbor and his son and his housekeeper’s husband and friends will be wearing Bill Dupree shirts. About two dozen men in a rehab program for addictions will be wearing Bill Dupree golf shirts. Men who live in dirt-floor shacks in a garbage dump in Guatemala will be wearing Bill Dupree shirts and sweaters. Men who benefit from the Salvation Army’s Christmas bell-ringing will wear Bill Dupree pants and coats.
I am wearing Bill Dupree shoes.
So if anyone ever asks me, “Who are you wearing?”
I’ll say, “I’m wearing Bill Dupree, and proud of it.”
— Hudgins, a former community newspaper editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.