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COWBOY LOGIC: Only the finest in pre-owned fashions

TOWNER, N.D. -- I have no hangups about wearing hand-me-downs. I welcome them and I gratefully accept them for my children. Getting married a little later in life and starting our family years after my our siblings and friends started their famil...

TOWNER, N.D. -- I have no hangups about wearing hand-me-downs. I welcome them and I gratefully accept them for my children.

Getting married a little later in life and starting our family years after my our siblings and friends started their families has given my wife and me a gold mine of slightly used clothes, shoes and baby gear.

We're pretty fortunate. Our kids have well-dressed cousins just a few years older than them. Our high-performance kids are starting to outgrow them now, but we've hardly had to buy a thing for them these first few years.

Some of the clothes were hardly worn. As fast as those little rascals grow, you're lucky to get two or three wearings on some of the dressier duds.

We even made a special exception to our prenatal ultrasound policy to grease the skids on a delivery of used apparel for our latest baby. A friend of my wife's had two extremely well-dressed little girls and she had the audacity to consider rummage selling them before we had our baby.

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We've never asked to know the sex of our babies from the ultrasound technician, but if we wanted to save our friend's little girl clothes from the jaws of a neighborhood garage liquidation, we had to lift the veil of secrecy.

So we had the technician print out a revealing ultrasound shot, write down the verdict of the baby's sex on it, put it in a sealed envelope, and we delivered it to our friend without peeking. She kept the secret from us and she kept the clothes to be delivered to us shortly after our little girl was born.

We've been awash in high-quality, brand-name, little pink coordinates ever since.

Brothers that borrow

It's not just our children who know the pragmatic pleasure of a slightly worn wardrobe. My brother in California is much better dressed than I am, and his income supports shopping habits in slightly more exclusive retailers than the local farm supply store.

We're about the same size, thankfully, and that means I'm first in line for the fashions he retires. I've gotten quite a few sweaters handed down to me by him. I'm not bragging or complaining, but quite a few of those sweaters are cashmere.

It's fitting that the word cashmere starts with cash because it takes more cash than I'm willing to spend to buy the soft, fine wool combed out from those little Asian goats. A goat can only crank out 3 ounces of the stuff each year, so it takes a small herd to make a sweater.

I can use only so many cashmere sweaters, so I've taken to wearing a few for work. He gave me one that works really well under my insulated bib overalls for winter wear. It's very warm.

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When my brother was visiting, he couldn't believe I was wearing it for work.

"That's an Arnys from Paris!" he exclaimed. "Oh, really," I said ignorantly.

I looked up Arnys in Paris on the Internet. It's a pretty high-class men's store in Paris on the Left Bank, at 14 rue de Sevres in the 7th arrondissement, I guess. Of course, I've not been to Paris nor do I know what's on the Right Bank for clothing stores, but, by golly, the folks at Arnys sell a pretty warm sweater for feeding cows in North Dakota in the winter. I appreciate it almost daily.

Maybe the fashionable French haberdashers would like a photo of their sweater with a few foxtail beards and hay needles stuck to the cashmere.

Or, I'm guessing, probably not.

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