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In the poseur-glutted world of punk rock, pioneer Patti Smith, 63, has always been unique: a deep thinker, a poet, a sensitive soul who comes by her edge and attitude honestly. The very same can be said for her personal style, which she calls "expensive bum." Smith, author of the current memoir Just Kids, smiles as she recounts a recent trip to the upscale Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman. "I could see certain salespeople watching me," she says. "My hair's all a mess, or I look a bit raggedy. And I just laugh, because I have the most expensive clothes on! I just wear 'em to death." While she may not look it, Smith is a connoisseur of haute couture, which she discovered as a teen growing up in New Jersey, poring over the clothes in Irving Penn photographs in Vogue and scoring similar pieces at resale shops outside Philadelphia. But she was skinny, with stringy hair, during what she calls "that voluptuous blonde era," so Smith sought refuge in New York City's punk scene. Soon, she says, "half the girls who'd come to the shows would be dressed like me." Along with her insistence on "the thinnest, lightest, if-a-spider-wove-them-they-couldn't-be-thinner" T-shirts, Smith has maintained a love of coats; "they have a certain nobility about them." In the '70s, she bought oversize Armani and Versace blazers and wore them over her tees, which she held together with safety pins when they ripped (a few years later, every punk fan in New York was doing the same). Of her unique style, Smith says, "I took a little from Keith Richards, a lot from Bob Dylan. It's fun, you know?"


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