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Fashion Advice

[whitespace] Miss Pinkie Shears

Miss Pinkie Shears

Dear Miss Pinkie Shears,
How can I tell the difference between quality and crap? I've seen some magazine articles lately suggesting that I, and the bulk of consumers, can't, but they don't offer any help on how to improve myself. I admit that I don't have much of an eye, but I'm willing to do my part to keep from drowning under a pile of crap. Please, Miss Shears, how do I spot the crap?
--Pottery Barney

Dear P.B.,
Your question is a can of worms. Are they good worms or bad worms? Shall we eat the worms and find out? Were the worms harvested from remote old-growth forests or from the tainted soil at the stadium site? No magazine has answered your question simply because there is no answer. But come along--this way--through the looking glass.

Quality is immutable. At the moment of its completion, an object's quality is unchangeable. Quality is solely based on the fundamental soundness of materials and craftspersonship: Will an object survive or even outlast its purpose? Excepting philosophy, ideas are without quality. Design and aesthetics are not markers of quality (although one should expect to pay more for either) but of subjective value that will fluctuate with mood, mode and site. Crap is not antipodal to quality. Crap seems to me, in this case, to add that splash of the subjective. This allows for quality crap--which would be well-made things that you don't much care for. I would dump JP Todd driving moccasins in this category. There is also shoddy crap that, in spite of itself, will ignite love and inspiration. I can't be the only one to have found herself at the Alemany flea market exclaiming, "What a beautiful latch-hooked rug! It has three kittens on it!"

This leads me to artistry--which adds that je ne sais quoi I think you are seeking, P.B. It's the pleat or the groove or the bend that forces your mind to linger, be it quality or no. Personal taste defines itself, but I would have you think about why something appeals to you. Is that homey decorative item in frosted sage or garnet something that calls to you, or are you merely listening to the nasal voice of some CEO droning, "Pick me. I am an attractive unit"?

Anyhow, before I got distracted, I had desperately wished to work in some shrewd commentary about the quality of "artist live/work lofts," but there is just not the space. And I guess, to be fair, it is just too early to tell. If anyone would like to make a friendly 10-year wager, please let me know.

In need of advice? Send all queries and comments to Miss Pinkie Shears at San Francisco Metropolitan, 1776A 18th St, San Francisco, 94107. Miss Shears cannot be reached by phone.

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From the March 29, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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