My Clips

Recently, I spun my sideline gig as a freelance writer off into a full-time job. On the off chance that anyone's interested, I thought I'd try posting a few of my articles here. I can't promise that I'll update this page super often, but I'll try to keep it fairly recent, at least. Along with fiction, I write feature stories for newspapers and magazines on homes, interior design, lifestyle, architecture and the arts. Enjoy!

Study in contrasts: Old and new, neutral and bold, sleek and weathered are at work in 2012 interiors

Friday, January 6, 2012
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

Recycle, reuse, repurpose, reclaim. These words are hot in home design. They also add up to the design buzzword for 2012: resourcefulness.
"Fewer furnishings and accessories, a minimalist approach to living, recycling what you have, these are trends," said Jill Hertz, interior designer and partner in Jill Hertz Interior Design. "McMansions are out. Smaller spaces are in."
Inside those scaled-back spaces, people are latching on to über-modern sources like Craigslist, Etsy and Pinterest for products and ideas that create the blend that reflects their personal style. Do-it-yourself, garage-sale chic, eclectic design -- each of these phrases describes a look that's attainable, affordable, stylish and so 2012.
"People are saying, 'I'm not going to buy over my means, but I'm staying where I am and making it fabulous,' " said Linda Wingo, owner of Wingo Design and Interiors. "That's why we're seeing a combination of old and new."
In fact, interior design this year is about
more than old and new. It's about neutral and bold, sleek and weathered, antique and modern. It's a study in contrasts -- and it clearly reflects what's happening in the world around us.
"People are tired of feeling down," said Lana Zepponi, an interior designer with Chestnut Hall Furniture and Interiors in Germantown. "We're getting over the neutrals and wanting to pop some life back into our interiors. It's a way to cheer up."
In her own home, Zepponi uses punches of color on accessories, fabrics and artwork to accent toned-down neutrals. A blend of contemporary art, midcentury furnishings and vintage accessories create an eclectic, but pared-down, look.
In design magazines and shows, colors like tangerine, acid green and robin's egg blue are accenting neutrals including gray and beige. Layers of texture are providing warmth and contrast. Repurposed items gleaned from estate sales and family attics are blending with clean-lined pieces to create a collected, lived-in look.
It's like comfort food for the eyes.
"The case goods that are being introduced this year are more clean-lined," said Lynne Catron, interior designer with Midtown Design Center of Memphis and co-owner of the soon-to-open Fresh Perspective in Germantown. "It's almost like they're making them in a way that they can be played against vintage furniture. Not necessarily too contemporary or too modern, but just good, clean lines that will mix well with antiques."
Wingo agrees. In the South, where family tradition has always played a leading role in home decor, more homeowners are turning away from the ormolu and heavy carving of the past and embracing a transitional style.
"People want contemporary, but they want it to not look cold," Wingo said. "They want modern elements in a warm way. I think that's the biggest form of contrast we're seeing."
Historical forms haven't disappeared, though. Home products designers are finding new ways to use them that have hurled them into the 21st century.
"As far as furniture goes, we're seeing exaggerated forms, like taking a Baroque or Jacobean piece, scaling it up and giving it an Art Deco lacquer finish," Hertz said. "Manufacturers and designers are also playing with scale in fabrics and wallcoverings."
High-back furnishings -- chairs, sofas, headboards -- are popular, Wingo said. Zepponi points to the Chesterfield sofa, whose traditional form has lately morphed into the decidedly contemporary Chesterfield chair.
"One thing that's really good about that piece is that it's traditional, but with a new spin," Zepponi said. "Instead of brown leather, we can give new life to it by putting a new fabric on it, like a linen or velvet in a hot color, and change its personality."
The same thing is happening in accessories, Catron added.
"Accessories seem to be embracing the past," she said. "A popular look for lamps is to use a reclaimed item like an architectural find or iron fragment for the body of the lamp and partner it with a clean-lined, simple linen shade. It sort of has the best of both worlds."
It also embraces another trend that's hotter than ever in 2012: eco-friendly design.
"All of this repurposing of things, it doesn't get any greener than that, than to use something that already exists," Catron said. "Also, I think it's a way to acquire items that are interesting with perhaps little investment."
Probably for the same reason, weathered materials are in use on everything from bathroom cabinetry to occasional tables to ceiling beams. But they're not the faux-finished pieces of the recent past -- they're the real deal.
"We just did a doctors' clinic conference room with two conference tables made out of recycled barn wood," Hertz said. "They're so beat up and they have paint stuck to them, and they're just very interesting."
The old-and-new trend also applies in the kitchen, said Karen Kassen, a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD) with Memphis-based Kitchens Unlimited.
"With cabinetry, painted finishes are still extremely popular," Kassen said. "But it's not like in past years when they were distressed and glazed. What we're seeing is a more tailored, crisper look."
Five years ago, she said, clients were requesting carved details and moldings. Now, "plain white recessed panels, not a lot of fuss" is the going style. On the opposite end of the spectrum, though, reclaimed woods are being introduced into the kitchen in distinctive ways, whether through rustic ceiling beams, center islands or even countertops.
"Anything that's really old is kind of hip and new," Kassen said.
Call it Anthropologie's influence or simply frugality inspired by tough economic times, but "hipster-hobo chic," as Hertz and her team call it, is the biggest manifestation of that trend.
"It's all over," Hertz said. "Look at Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, or just walk into Macy's -- they have whole departments of Uggs. It ties into Occupy Wall Street. That whole age, the baby boomers are the largest consumer segment, and they were the hippies. Now you have their kids, these junior hipsters running around."
Whatever the cause, more people are after that eclectic, vintage-shopped look in their homes -- and more people are shopping at home, too.
"There is greater interest in products that are made in the United States," Zepponi said. "We've seen people looking for that almost in the same way they embraced sustainability and the green movement. We have customers come in and ask, 'What do you have that's made in the U.S.? And at market, there was a big emphasis on highlighting American-made products. People are wanting to spend their money at home."


Coming into Focus

Proposed $15 million Eggleston museum hinges on public trust

STACEY WIEDOWER | Special to The Memphis News

March 7, 2011
In the realm of urban attractions, museums present somewhat of a paradox.
Often, they’re privately funded. But in a broader sense – a civic sense – they’re public spaces. They’re open to the public, shaped to address a public issue or meet a public need.
And often, their public impact reaches beyond the collections housed within.
“The best museums and the ones most successful in terms of economic impact are often ones that have public feelings of ownership,” said Amy Whitaker, an international museums expert, former Memphian and author of the book “Museum Legs.” “People have to want to go there, not just feel like they should because they feel that art is important.”
That’s precisely the goal of a proposed Memphis museum dedicated to the work of internationally renowned photographer William Eggleston.
Mark Crosby, a New York intellectual property attorney and Memphis native who is spearheading the effort to launch the $15 million museum project, said he sees his “client” not as Eggleston or the family trust that houses his extensive body of work, but as the city itself.
“If we do it right, if we raise enough money and take the best advice and best examples to help guide our path, what we may wind up with is something that generates public trust,” Crosby said. “That is a key for us … public trust. We will only succeed if Memphis embraces this.”
The proposed museum would not only house Eggleston’s work – roughly 60,000 images culled from a broad range of largely commonplace subjects – but also serve as exhibition space for work by other contemporary artists.
Jenny Dixon, director of the Noguchi Museum in Queens, N.Y., a single-artist museum dedicated to the work of famed mid-century sculptor Isamu Noguchi, said the very nature of Eggleston’s work will make an impact on the city.
“His images, a lot of them came out of the community he’s going back into,” Dixon said. “There is a resonance to his work that is going to have an immediate attraction.”
Eggleston’s photographs celebrate the mundane: a rusty tricycle, a gas station on a lonely road, a mud-covered truck. One of the first non-commercial photographers to work in color, Eggleston – who still lives in Memphis – has exhibited his work in cities ranging from Tokyo to Madrid to Berlin and received a wealth of international acclaim.
“From a cultural standpoint, Eggleston is one of the most important contemporary visual artists of our time,” said Susan Schadt, president and CEO of ArtsMemphis. “He’s an iconic testament to the cultural heritage that we celebrate here. I think it is very, very important to see that this project gets completed.”
Winston Eggleston, Eggleston’s son and managing trustee of the Eggleston Artistic Trust, said the family is thrilled at the prospect of a museum devoted to his father’s work.
“I couldn’t be more excited, really,” he said. “I know my dad’s excited too. He’s a little skeptical – it’s a ‘believe it when I see it’ kind of thing.”
Schadt said the proposed museum – projected to open in 2013 – would impact the city in ways that reach beyond its cultural significance.
“The (Santa Fe, N.M.-based) Georgia O’Keefe Museum gets easily between 160,000 and 180,000 guests a year,” Schadt said. “And 85 percent of those are from out of state, which means, of course, that when they come to town, they have the need for accommodations and restaurants and those sorts of economic drivers.”
Whitaker said the economic impact for a museum project can be significant. She pointed to statistics gleaned from the launches of several museums she has worked for or studied in her career. At the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, for example, economic impact rings in at $14 million a year, with about 100,000 visitors per year drawn to a town of roughly 20,000 people.
When the Cleveland Museum of Art opened, it received around 600,000 annual visitors, 10 percent of whom were out-of-towners making overnight trips.
“They averaged a two-night stay, meaning 120,000 hotel nights,” Whitaker said.
The museum adds more than $22 million to Cleveland/Akron’s Gross Regional Product each year and contributes $5 million to the state and local tax base.
The Eggleston museum would function on a smaller scale than those projects. However, Crosby said, it could still make a significant impact on the city. He cites as an example Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum.
“Warhol is a great example because what you have in that is a city that took advantage of someone’s world renown and captured that goodwill as a civic asset,” Crosby said. “It’s on a smaller scale, to be sure, but that’s what we’re doing with Eggleston. He has a worldwide following. He’s a darling of the press. Reviews remain unanimously starstruck, establishing him as one of the most important, influential and enduring American artists of the last century. Our role is to traffic in that.”
Todd Richardson, co-director of Crosstown Arts, said he believes people would travel from around the world to visit a museum centered on Eggleston’s work.
“There’s no question in my mind that it would be a pilgrimage spot, putting Memphis on the map in that sense,” he said. “Memphis has its history in music, but it also has a long tradition in the visual arts. I think this museum would go a long way in helping to establish Memphis in terms of the visual arts – multidisciplinary, not just music.”
Richardson has a vested interest in one aspect of the proposed museum: Crosstown is one of three sites that have been discussed thus far as potential locations for the museum. The others are Overton Park and Overton Square.
“Thinking about the possibilities of there being this magnificent new architectural structure for the Eggleston Museum – and the Sears building with an arts residency program and art-making facilities next to the Eggleston Museum – all of those things together could be a real draw regionally, if not beyond,” he said, referring to Crosstown Arts’ long-term plans for revitalization of the former Sears Crosstown building that towers above the district.
Crosby, who also helped launch the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, has been continually meeting with stakeholders to finalize a location for the facility, but as yet, it’s a wait-and-see proposition. Once a location has been established, however, plans will immediately commence on the building’s design.
Crosby said although the structure’s site will no doubt influence its design, he would like to see a building that is “discreet, flexible, open, welcoming.” Once the site has been secured, the museum’s organizers will invite a “select set of architects to contribute designs and pay them for their contributions,” he said. A jury of experts including artists and single-artist museum directors will select the winning design.
Eugene Johnson, Amos Lawrence Professor of Art at Williams College, former Memphian and author of “Memphis: An Architectural Guide,” has consulted with Crosby on the museum’s design.
“It won’t be very big,” Johnson said of the proposed structure, “but there are some very potent buildings that are very small. You don’t have to have a big building to have something that’s architecturally significant. I think we have to think about an architect who can work comfortably on a relatively small scale.”
And all in all, that’s how Crosby views the proposed museum: small-scale, but significant.
“As I see it, if we raise enough money, we can create a sustainable, interesting, worthwhile place,” he said. “Interesting is the key word. It has to be interesting and relevant.”
Schadt, whose organization is currently facilitating two studies that examine arts offerings and their economic impact on the city, said the city is “poised for some amazing attributes in the cultural sector, this one being right at the top of where we need to be driving.”
“It’s so exciting for Memphis,” she said. “I do think this will happen and we’ll all see results, something we can point to and be very proud of.”

By Stacey Wiedower
Friday, March 4, 2011
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

Paragon of Mid-Century design by Fay Jones to be featured in Preservation Series
Eight years ago, Barry Gildea fell in love with a house.
The 47-year-old East Memphis home, designed by architect Fay Jones, is one of the city's purest examples of Mid-Century Modern residential architecture. Since making it his, Gildea, a writer, has dedicated himself to filling it with items -- furniture, art, decorative objects -- gleaned from the period.
"All of the collecting has been specific to this house," said Gildea, who finds and buys most of his pieces online and can name the designer of nearly every object he has acquired.
Now the home, and the carefully built collections housed within it, will be featured as part of Memphis Heritage Inc.'s annual Preservation Series, a monthlong educational series that takes place on Monday evenings in March.
This year, the series aims to teach Memphians about Mid-Century Modern design and its impact on the city. The sessions offer an overview of the period, as well as opportunities to learn about and view specific examples of Modernist architecture, both public and residential.
"I think this is a step in the right direction for people to understand we're not just all about 19th century buildings and early 1900s buildings," said June West, Memphis Heritage executive director. "I think the architectural community is well aware of these structures, but I'm not sure the preservation community is aware, and I think it's something we need to bring to the surface."
For many, the words "Mid-Century Modern" call to mind visions of minimalist rooms and groovy, clean-lined furniture, of low-slung roofs and unadorned architecture. The Modern movement, which had its roots in the early- to mid-20th century and gained a foothold in the United States after World War II, rebelled against the fussiness of the periods that preceded it, focusing instead on functional simplicity.
The look is classic, but thanks to a long-running resurgence, it's as at home in 2011 as it was in its '50s and '60s heyday. Licensed versions of modern classic furnishings continue to be produced, selling through specialty retailers like Hive Modern and Design Within Reach. Many a contemporary building takes its cues from the period's streamlined aesthetic.
In fact, the ubiquity of the style and its continued influence on the design of items ranging from tea kettles to sofas to entire buildings mean its original forms -- particularly in architecture -- are, to some extent, taken for granted.
Architect Marty Gorman, who retired a little more than a year ago from TRO Jung/Brannen, said he's concerned that Memphis is losing valuable pieces of its architectural history.
"It is a growing concern within the Memphis design profession and preservation groups that Mid-Century Modern buildings perhaps are little appreciated and are falling victim to demolition," Gorman said. "That was something we wanted to help ameliorate."
By "we," he means himself and Memphis architect Keith Kays, who teamed up to complete a survey of mid-20th century commercial structures titled "A Survey of Modern Public Buildings in Memphis, Tennessee from 1940 to 1980." The pair now is working to complete a similar survey of mid-century residential structures.
Gildea's home is among them.
Michael Caradine, principal and owner of ACC Design Inc. and the Gildea family's interior designer, said the house seems to be one of Jones' most carefully detailed residences.
"He studied with Frank Lloyd Wright, and he was one of the students of Frank Lloyd Wright who most closely followed his principles and style," Caradine said. "But he did take ideas and principles he learned from Frank Lloyd Wright and he made them his own."
The house, Caradine said, was one of Jones' earliest residential commissions.
"I think this house was probably somewhat experimental for him," he said.
Among the features of the home, in a subdivision off Yates Road, is a wood pendant light fixture designed for the original owners by Jones, one of his trademarks. Another key feature is the low roofline leading to the main entry, which opens into a large, cathedral-like living room.
"That's a characteristic of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture that transferred into the work of Fay Jones, that you would come into a small, confined space and enter into a large expanse of space," Caradine said. "It's a method of contrasting that makes the large space seem even grander in comparison."
Gildea, who shares the house with his wife, Anna Karpovich, and their three children, said despite the home's architectural significance and his own dedication to preserving it, the house is a family home, not a museum. But, he added, the whole family appreciates living in such a well-designed setting.
"Fay Jones was one of those rare architects who sees what few others see, like the shadow of a tree on a wall with the tree not yet grown and the wall yet to be built," he said.
Kays, who co-authored the survey with Gorman, said the city retains many examples of Mid-Century architect-designed houses.
"One of the things that went on during the '50s and well into the '60s is that architects were very much involved in the construction of fine homes in Memphis," he said.
Aside from Jones, other well-known examples include homes by Francis Mah, Francis Gassner, Walk Jones III and A.L. Aydelott. At least 40 examples of Mid-Century residential architecture remain standing in the city, Gorman said.
Kays and Gorman will present the findings of their building survey at one of the Preservation Series sessions. Other sessions include an introduction to Modernism by architectural historian Judith Johnson, a tour led by Caradine of the Gildeas' house, a study of neon signage from the period, and a guided tour of one of the city's most prominent examples of a Mid-Century Modern public space, the Memphis College of Art. The series is sold out, but MHI has a waiting list if space opens. Call 272-2727, or go to memphisheritage.org.
After the series, West said, Memphis Heritage will host periodic meetings of an interest group dedicated to the preservation of Mid-Century Modern structures.
"It will meet quarterly to talk about helping to track these buildings and what's going on," she said. "We're all about prevention. It often looks like we're reactionary, but we work behind the scenes. The thing is, I think, to create an environment where citizens feel they have a chance to have a voice. We're the facilitator to make that happen."
Stacey Wiedower is a writer and residential interior designer. Read more at designinsider.blogspot.com.

Vintage style: Classic décor evokes memories, makes unique personal statement

By Stacey Wiedower
Friday, February 18, 2011
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

It all started with a game of dress-up.
When Memphian Anna Avant was a little girl, she'd raid her grandmother's closet and come out draped in her clothes, her jewelry, her bags -- stylish then, in their first incarnation, and stylish still.
So when it came to putting together her own adult style, Avant drew on those childhood memories to create an aesthetic that embraces her love of all things vintage.
"I like classic things and I like things that have meaning," said Avant, who owns Hoot+Louise, a Downtown boutique that sells vintage and vintage-inspired clothing and housewares.
In her East Memphis home, Avant is surrounded by items gleaned from a different era, many of them passed
down through generations of family members. Placed in their new context -- the casual-contemporary house of a young family in 2011 -- the pieces have a vibe that's retro-cool.
It's a look that's huge among the young urban set. Green without being faddish and current without being conventional, vintage décor offers a look that's personal but whimsical, at once high-style and budget-friendly.
Vintage aficionado Erin Austen Abbott lovingly refers to the style of her Water Valley, Miss., house as "grandma chic."
"It definitely has the feel and the comfort of a grandmother's home, but with kind of a modern twist," said Abbott, who decorates with art by up-and-coming artists, flea market finds, found objects and carefully curated collections. "It feels like a grandmother's home, but in a good way. A very fun grandmother."
Among her collectibles are vintage globes, quilts, art, vinyl records and needlepoint pillows -- including some handed down by her grandmother.
"I do have a lot of collections, but I don't put them all out at once," she said.
And that's a major theme repeated among vintage fans: Editing is everything.
Photographer Melissa Sweazy, whose personal style is part contemporary, part rustic, said she likes to pair old art from thrift stores with modern photos, and quirky vintage objects like typewriters and cameras with clean-lined furnishings.
"I don't want my house to look like a museum of relics," she said. "I try to keep it contemporary, but with fun, quirky things -- 1930s pieces, midcentury modern pieces -- thrown in. I want it to look beautiful and updated, but with vintage pieces that are noticeable throughout."
Because so many items in vintage lovers' favorite shopping spots -- thrift stores, junk shops, estate sales -- are affordable, it's easy to go overboard, Abbott warned. And the sheer amount of stuff to sift through and deals to be had can be overwhelming, especially for the uninitiated.
When Abbott finds a piece she loves but doesn't immediately know where to put it, she tries to part with an older item, one she's tired of, to make room for the addition.
"You don't want your house to become cluttered," said Abbott, who owns Amelia, a specialty gift store on the Oxford, Miss., square. "Keep that in mind, and be willing to part with things and keep only the things you absolutely love. You don't have to have it all."
She learned the art of buying and editing from her boss at a vintage store where she worked in college.
"Just because something's $1 or $10 doesn't mean you have to have it," she said. "It's about looking at the big picture instead of the in-the-moment, 'Oh, my gosh, I need to have this!'"
Still, when much of your shopping takes place in vintage, thrift and antiques stores, it's not necessarily easy to shop with a list. When Avant shops for vintage finds, she usually lets her instincts guide the way. But she's always on the lookout for items she or members of her family -- she got her love of vintage shopping from her mom and grandmother -- collect.
In her mom's case, it's milk glass. In her case, it's bud vases, vintage lamps and '50s-era accessories.
"We all pass things around between each other," she said.
East Memphis resident Shannon Carden gravitates to '40s and '50s vintage items that fit with the style -- and scale -- of her postwar-era house. One of the things she likes best about vintage shopping is that if she sees something she likes and can envision a place for it in her home, it doesn't matter if it's not in perfect shape.
"You can find a lot of good stuff at thrift stores, and it's so cheap," she said. "And if you don't like the way it looks but you like the bones of it, you can fix it up."
It's that thrill of the hunt -- and thrill of the bargain -- that inspires Sweazy and her husband, Caleb, in their quest to pair the contemporary with the classic.
"We share that excitement of not being afraid to dive in and see what you can find," she said.
Among the vintage pieces they're using in their newly revamped Midtown carriage house, which Caleb is rebuilding himself, are a 1930s glass cabinet with hand-painted rosettes and an old iron mantelpiece Caleb is reinventing as a bar.
Abbott loves having things around her that have a history, that have a story, that have stood the test of time.
"I like to think about where it's been and who had it and who cared for it that it's still in such good shape," she said. "(My) grandparents were raised during the Depression and took such good care of things, and things back then lasted so much longer and were made so much better. It's like, they're in such good shape that I want to carry that on."
When Avant walks through her house, she walks past the chair her grandfather sat in throughout her childhood, his wood carvings and an old sewing stool with a hidden compartment that stores a collection of her grandmother's silk scarves. She rocks her infant son to sleep in his nursery in an old wooden rocker where her grandmother rocked her mother and where her mother rocked her and her brother.
"I grew up with my mom taking great pride in her house and her antique things and things passed down to her through the family," she said. "When I got older and I got my own house, I got things passed down to me, and so I just keep collecting."
Stacey Wiedower is a home and design writer and residential interior designer. Read more from her at designinsider.blogspot.com.

Dressed for less: Scaling back on wardrobe one way to make eco- friendly fashion statement

By Stacey Wiedower
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Memphian David Nielsen has learned to do a lot with a little.
A thrift store aficionado, he limits his wardrobe almost exclusively to suits he has bought secondhand.
"I have a wide range of black suits and white dress shirts," said Nielsen, 30, who sells wine at Joe's Wines & Liquor in Midtown.
"If you see me on the street, that's what I'm going to be wearing nine times out of 10. I didn't want to have a lot of stuff around that I didn't need and wasn't going to wear.
"There are still a lot of ways you can express yourself with clothes, even if you don't have the biggest wardrobe in the world."
The idea of going green with fashion can mean a lot of things, and to a growing number of bloggers and lovers of minimalist living, it means scaling back.
Blogger Courtney Carver, who runs the site bemorewithless.com, brought her minimalist worldview into her wardrobe in August when she launched Project 333, a three-month quest to get by with only 33 items in her closet, including shoes and accessories.
"I just always found myself going to the closet thinking, 'I have nothing to wear,' but there was nowhere to shove anything," she said. "So I wanted to challenge myself to see how little I could get by with."
The first session of Project 333 ran from October through December -- a period that, in Carver's hometown of Salt Lake City, experienced temperatures ranging from the high 90s to just above zero. With careful planning, though, she was able to meet her goal.
"It wasn't as challenging as I thought it would be in terms of having something to wear every day that looked presentable," she said. "In fact, I ended up getting more compliments than I used to, because I really thought about those three months and what would work well together, versus just throwing something on."
People across the country have jumped on the Project 333 bandwagon, and many other bloggers are chronicling their own scaled-back fashion experiences online. Among them is Andrew Odom, who signed on for the project's first run.
Odom doesn't feel he has compromised his own public image by shrinking his closet's contents. Like Carver, he has found that drastically scaling back his wardrobe has caused him to put much more thought into his personal style.
"Just because you can buy five pairs of jeans at Old Navy doesn't mean they're well-made, good for the environment or even worth the closet/drawer space," Odom said.
Jackie A. Chapman, a Project 333 devotee who recently moved back to Nashville from Los Angeles, endorses Odom's theory wholeheartedly.
"I've come to the realization that by not buying mass amounts of cheap clothing from the clearance racks at Target and Gap -- and buying one or two nicer items from specialty or vintage stores that will last longer -- I'm probably making better, more eco-friendly fashion choices," she said.
That's Memphian Kerry Crawford's approach to fashion spending, as well. She's not really buying less these days, she said, because she didn't buy much to begin with. Instead, she's now buying higher-dollar, higher-quality items that "are classic and will last a long time."
Crawford, who runs the popular local blog ilovememphisblog.com, passes on clothes to friends or donates them to local thrift shops when she no longer needs them. She also maintains a strong commitment to buying local.
Supporting local shops, local artisans and eco-friendly buying decisions is the idea behind another online fashion project, Rebecca Burgess' Fibershed Challenge. At her blog, fibershed.wordpress.com, Burgess has pledged to live for one year in clothes made from fibers sourced solely within a geographic region no wider than 150 miles from her front door.
Carver, who recently added a Fibershed Challenge component to her own fashion mission, thinks "there's a lot to be said for not only supporting local, but supporting artists." Along with reducing the amount of stuff that surrounds her, she has become more conscientious about the things she does buy.
"Living with less is one way of being more eco-friendly," she said. "You're not driving to the mall. You're not buying, buying, buying -- incurring debt and making this crazy lifestyle for yourself that you have to work so hard to keep up with."
Nielsen said he's easily frustrated with the disposable view many people have of the world around them.
"People want to throw things away rather than fix them, but how hard is it to sew on a button?" he said. "You have to look at everything around you as having some kind of value. You can apply that to your clothes, but it also has a lot to do with how you view the rest of the world."
Chapman said scaling back her wardrobe not only has helped her embrace a healthier, more economical way of life, but it's also been fun and freeing, too.
"Ultimately, the reason I made changes is that I realized I didn't need as much as I had," she said. "Let's face it: I have more clothes in my possession currently than some people might own in a lifetime."

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