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photoThe Methow version of elbow patches.

Fashion That Sticks

In a recent trip to Seattle, I revisited some of my old haunts, one being Discovery Park. Located on the edge of the Magnolia district, Discovery park is known for its beautiful ocean views and well groomed trails, and it was recently voted a tourist must-do by National Geographic.

I noticed that the trails weren’t the only thing well-groomed. 

Seattleites moseyed hither and thither in their new, clean, coordinated winter clothes. I couldn’t help but gawk at the high fashion as it marched down well-maintained dirt runways. As a ruralite, I felt totally out of place in my worn and abused down vest and—gasp!—bogs. 

Fashion sense in the Methow is a different beast. It is one with a wide variety of Senior Center finds, last-century’s long johns and near-artistic application of patch jobs. The quintessential winter accessory in the Methow fashion world is duct tape. 

photoMo Kelley-Akker's work pants are a rugged work of art.

One would not imagine that the same substance used to construct the Brooklyn Bridge and quick fix the Apollo 17 lunar module would now grace the valley fashionistas. But it makes sense in the Methow: We are hearty stock with little time for needle and thread. 

When I went to purchase a new down coat, a friend of mine told me to buy a roll of duct tape to go along with it. I now understand why. Without the service of duct tape, you could hardly hug a friend without making it snow down all over the place.

photoLiv Smith-Bowers shows off her homemade duct tape Homecoming dress.

Duct tape holds this whole valley together. It’s applied to boots, coats, bags, cars and yes, event ducts (but we’re not really talking about ducts now, are we?). Hank’s sells this stuff by the bin-full—bright adhesive tape in every color imaginable. Folks around here use this fan dangled new colorful duct tape to make wallets, book covers, and even formal gowns. 

And your choice of color/style of duct tape also defines you in the Valley. My hero Mo Kelley-Akker recently told me, “Black duct tape is the Methow Valley equivalent of upper-middle class.” 

Newcomers to this slap-dash approach to coat fixes are reticent. “How does duct tape handle going through the washer?” a friend asked via Facebook. No one I knew had an answer for this query. After doing a bit of research, it appears that in 1960, a certain “flame-resistant” version of duct tape could withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I still have not washed my vest. I’ll let you know when I do. 

It seems like everyone wears their duct tape as a banner of pride. They earned every little rip and tear honestly, working/playing hard in the Methow. Duct tape patches hold as many stories as scars do. Except when you dish about your latest patch, you don’t have to bare any flesh in the winter chill. 

So maybe this whole duct tape thing is less about the fashion sense and more about our own personal stories, which we wear with the edges rolling ever so slightly, on the outside. If this is true, I’d say the Methow folk have a hell of a lot more stories than the Seattleites. 




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All you duct tape and repurpose/recycle fans, start visualizing your entry for the 2014 Trashion Show scheduled for May 10.

Louise Stevens