After a Fashion

Stephen discovers holiday luv and something to fit his wrist at a chain store

While you were sleeping, these guys were making magic as the dance/electronic music universe orbits Austin: (l-r) DJ/producer Sander Kleinenberg with video Guru Mark Pistoor and DJs/producers Francis Preve & Josh Gabriel
While you were sleeping, these guys were making magic as the dance/electronic music universe orbits Austin: (l-r) DJ/producer Sander Kleinenberg with video Guru Mark Pistoor and DJs/producers Francis Preve & Josh Gabriel (by Seabrook Jones/

HOLIDAYS & DOTS I spent most of the holidays in a fur coat and pajamas. I purposely kept a slow social schedule, feeling generally run-down and being exhausted by year-end events. The economy being what it is, gift-giving was a fairly minor affair in which I struck a deal with most of my friends that we wouldn't give one another anything but love for Christmas. Everyone I knew seemed to be taking it very easy this year, and it just felt right. I didn't go overboard with Christmas decorating. In fact, I didn't do any decorations at all. On Tuesday before Christmas, I spent the night at Mark and Stephen's and had dinner with them. It was all toasty and warm in their living room, and we reminisced about the year and holidays past. The fire was crackling and our spirits were high, and I got endless entertainment from watching Stephen tend the fire without the proper fireplace tools. In a very Wilma Flintstone scenario, he was manipulating the logs and flame with what appeared to be a pitchfork and a pair of salad tongs. Endlessly entertaining, as I said, but it had never occurred to me over the past few Christmases that they didn't have the appropriate tools for managing a fire. Suddenly, I was on a mission. The next morning, Christmas Eve Eve, I made arrangements with my friend Jacki-OH to pick me up and take me to Southpark Meadows to shop for a few last-minute holiday necessities ... and fireplace tools for Stephen and Mark (despite our no-gift-giving pact). My nephew Tyler, home from basic training in South Carolina, joined us, and together the three of us negotiated the ridiculous parking lot of Southpark Meadows. We shopped here and there, finding most of what we needed (except fireplace tools). Tyler and Jacki had found what they each wanted. Smoking a cigarette outside Hobby Lobby while waiting for Jacki, I began chatting with a young woman sitting near me. She was fun and pleasant in a casual way, but I complained that Jacki was taking too long, and I was cold. "Maybe you should come get warm in my store and take a look around. Might find something you like," she offered. "Your store?" I said. "Yes, it's Dots. I'm the assistant manager." I thought to myself: "Yeah, right. It looks like the kind of place that would sell Miley Cyrus clothes." But, aloud, I said: "Dots? How charming. I'll try and drop by sometime." I was glad I hadn't blabbed about writing about fashion and retail, but this young woman was indeed an excellent representative of the store she worked for. We chatted a bit more, and she had to go back to work. Eventually, I did indeed fess up to being The Austin Chronicle's Style Avatar and promised to drop by in a few minutes. Okay. Jacki was taking too long, so I went into Dots. "Hmmm," I thought. "Not a Miley Cyrus item in the whole store. This is a good sign." Being an aficionado of flashy, fun, inexpensive trendy things, I thought at first that I was in Claire's. But Tyler, Jacki, and I had already been in Claire's, and it had nothing like this stuff. It was if we had accidentally gone into Claire's older, more sophisticated sister's room instead. Tyler didn't have much interest, so I sent him to fetch Jacki from Hobby Lobby in a hurry – she had to see this store. Holiday dresses started at $14, jewelry was $3-15, and hats, scarves, and all kinds of other accessories were just as affordable. Jacki was wild, trying on pearls the size of Betty Rubble's and a big black Audrey Hepburn hat that she had to have. I was drawn to the display of rhinestone jewelry on the wall. No, not vintage, collectible pieces, but big ol' honkin' acrylic crystals the size of Mount Fuji. I wanted them all and started layering them on my arms, fingers, and neck. I tried on these two rhinestone cuffs, but they were a bit tight on me (I am, of course, presuming that Dots' demographic does not include a large 52-year-old man with a taste for cheap jewelry). Whether the jewelry fit or not was not a problem. It was so inexpensive that I wanted to buy it anyway. But then ... then came the moment of truth. "Look, Uncle Stephen," said Tyler, who had returned to find us after our extended absence, and he pointed to a rack of jewelry marked "Plus Sized Jewelry." I very nearly fainted. Oh. My. God. It was a dream come true. Jewelry for big girls. Well, it's true that the sign in the window said they carried sizes 0-24, but I never dreamed that would include jewelry. I thought I'd faint from delight. What a Christmas dream come true! Remember that name: Dots.

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Austin style, holidays, Dots, Hobby Lobby, plus-sized jewelry, Betty Rubble, Wilma Flintstone, Tyler, Jacki-OH, Mark & Steven

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