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My Endless Search for American Fashion

1936: The Burroughs family, photographed by Walker Evans. The Burroughs were one of three tenant farming families portrayed by James Agee and Evans in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.
Photo: Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In the late summer of 1986, I packed up my things and, with my 1-year-old son, moved to Detroit to begin writing about fashion for the News. I was 30, and I remember thinking that the true fashion of America was vernacular. It was the plain cotton dress, the beauty of the useful garment or the secondhand shirt. But, equally, it

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