The Stories We Tell

Five Wornettes revisit the fictional characters that inspired their closets growing up

Moon Prism Power!
When I was about 10 years old (pushing the limits of an appropriate age for a cartoon obsession), I loved Sailor Moon. She was my moon goddess of style. Though my love may have shifted from Sailor Scout to Sailor Scout, it was the idea of a sassy uniform only put on through an intense and magical costume change that I found most appealing.

The fantasy driven schoolgirl fashions had me acting like a fool as I begged my parents for the whole kit and kaboodle of consumer products marketed to my tween self. I remember the tense Christmas morning phone call between a friend and I as we discussed who had gotten what under the tree that morning. It was as if we thought it made us better people to have added to our growing collection of imported plastic accessories that made us “feel” like we really were “Super Sailor Scouts”—stylish schoolgirls with badass super powers.

As I got a bit older, my obsession stuck in the back of my mind. I couldn’t bear to part with the dolls, t-shirts, and plastic wands that hung around collecting dust in my closet. The cool punk girls I met in high school shared my secret love. We regularly discussed how awesome our animated hero and her friends were.

How did this totally fanciful, junk-food TV show fit in with my new found, anti-consumerist, teenage feminist rants? I began to reposition my fascination, turning my old Sailor Moon nightgown into a hot butch muscle tee and mixing the cutesy Sailor Moon-inspired pigtails of my youth into a riot grrrl-inspired statement. Perhaps the rumours of a lesbian love affair between Sailor Neptune and Uranus had even had an influence on my queerness. Even though I’ve more or less retired this obsession, I still get giddy every time I see a Japanese school uniform, excited at the thought of the magic that the girls who sport these get-ups possess. // Jenna Danchuk

Ten Points for Slytherin
I was obsessed with Harry Potter as a kid to the point that I managed to convince myself that a) I was his sister and b) Voldemort was stalking me. Okay, I’ll admit—I’m still obsessed. I couldn’t watch the last part of the last movie because I couldn’t deal with the fact that the series was ending. Before, when I identified as Gryffindor, I was partial to their house colours of red and gold. I was really big on wearing men’s ties as accessories (eat your heart out, Avril Lavigne). I used to carry a wand around until I was, like, 12. My mom claimed it was just a stick and told me to grow up. (Muggles, am I right?) Unfortunately, I haven’t. I still have the wand (yew, dragon heartstring core, inflexible), lying around somewhere.

When I was 10, I got glasses for the first time, and I didn’t feel like a Horrible Nerd Dorkasaurus as I might have had I got them at an earlier stage. I felt like this further confirmed my assumption that Harry Potter and I were related and I was actually a witch. The reason I wasn’t accepted to Hogwarts, I told myself on my 11th birthday, was because it is in England, and I lived in Canada, and Hogwarts Express doesn’t cross the ocean. Obviously. Anyway, Harry Potter made me feel cool about my glasses. I was in good company.

As I got older, I started to get into Harry Potter from a different perpective. I realized that I was cleary a Slytherin, and that green and silver were the way to go. I still like red and don’t hate Gryffindors, but I avoid gold clothing if I can help it and wear silver instead. // Sofie Mikhaylova

Here. Swear. Swear on Chanel.
I can’t remember being obsessed with anything other than dalmatians as a child, but in Grade 10 I fell under the spell of Carrie Bradshaw. The obsession spilled over to Sarah Jessica Parker (does anybody really differentiate between the two?) and I can remember going to school wearing my Great Grandmother’s broaches as fasteners on an asymmetrical grey cardigan, an homage to her Gap campaign.

My all-time favourite outfit during this phase was based on a dress from the final episode of the series. It was a sea-foam green tulle skirt which I made myself and layered over a structured black halter dress, meant to emulate the dress Carrie runs across Paris in, eventually reuniting with Big (gush). I wore it to our high school’s drama and dance awards.

I think the only problem my obsession with Carrie’s fashion might have caused was that it was so different from what everyone else was wearing in my high school, and so I sort of stuck out like a sore satin-gloved thumb. While everyone was showing up for class in jeans or sweatpants, I was wearing chiffon floral skirts and oversized fake flowers pinned to my cardigan. // Casie Brown

“Whoever said orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed.”
Growing up, I always got the idea that my peers didn’t think I was very smart. No matter how high my grades, my optimistic attitude combined with my affinity to wear pink matching outfits and my blonde streaked hair made me an easy target for dumb blonde jokes. I felt destined to be intellectually downtrodden until the day I saw Legally Blonde. Elle Woods was just like me: fun, girly, and smarter than she looked. I faked an eye exam and got cute glasses, paired knee socks with heels, and began telling everyone I would go to McGill, to which one boy said, “Alyssa, you’ll never be smart enough to go to McGill.” But, like Elle, I studied hard and tried to be best friends with everyone regardless of their judgment. The climax of my Elle Woods phase involved a head to toe hot pink Betsey Johnson corduroy outfit, complete with hot pink knee boots my mother acquired in Las Vegas, accessorized with a pink basket full of pink cookies which I spent my high school day handing out to students. After that I started dating a drama guy and went from Pretty in Pink to Checkerboard Ska. It was a rocky transition.

I never did get to McGill, but only because they didn’t offer a program as well known and successful as the Ryerson School of Journalism, where I am currently finishing my degree. I do, however, still wear pink with pride, and sometimes when I get to class and take out my floral notebook and rainbow pen set, I smile to myself and silently thank Elle for helping me find my smart self. // Alyssa Garisson

All I want is a dress with puffy sleeves.
Anne of Green Gables was a really important book for me as a child. I just liked how she was so herself, even though that self was a little weird and loud and prone to unfortunate accidents. I’ve never dyed my hair green (by accident, that is), I’ve never gotten my best friend drunk (by accident, that is), and I’ve never floated away in a lake and been rescued by a mischievous, handsome boy from school (not yet, that is). I might not have had flaming red hair, but I did have big, bushy, brown curls—I stuck out in the sea of sleek blonde hair that was the style for all the pretty girls in elementary school.

When I first read Anne of Green Gables, I didn’t fully understand what “puffed sleeves” were—I remember looking in a mirror and holding my sleeves up off my shoulder in an attempt to visualize what Anne was talking about—but I definitely sympathized with Anne’s yearning for trendy clothes that her adopted guardians couldn’t afford. As a child, all my clothes came from the sale section of a local discount outlet store. I always wanted what I couldn’t have: designer purses, t-shirts with logos printed on them, $30 lipgloss from department stores. My mother had a very Marilla Cuthbert attitude towards the whole thing. They’re both very practical women who work hard to balance a small budget and are seemingly impervious to trends or impractical wants. I’m the complete opposite—as soon as I was old enough to work, I worked in the trendiest boutiques and department stores, spending my minimum wage earnings on the latest styles.

Once, when I was working at a law firm and had lots of disposable income, I came across a cardigan that had legitimately puffed sleeves. It was a black button-down sweater with ruched stitching on the shoulders, giving them a raised, “puffed,” look. I don’t know if the designers had Anne of Green Gables in mind when they designed it, but I bought it immediately. I never wore it. It’s not really my style. I didn’t relate to the actual puffed sleeves—I related to Anne’s wanting. I understood desiring what you can’t really have. Besides, buying those items for yourself rarely fills a void. When Anne finally gets her puffed sleeves, it’s because Matthew, her guardian and best friend, knows that puffed sleeves will make Anne happy and sets out to get them for her. I’ll always remember how I felt reading about Anne unwrapping the paper on her beautiful brown dress that Matthew got Mrs. Lynde to make. Anne had someone who really understood her and who would have done anything to make her happy. I like to imagine that Anne never gave away or threw out that dress because it reminded her of how much she and Matthew loved each other. She outgrew the puffed sleeves, but she never outgrew their relationship. BRB, crying forever. // Haley Mlotek

photography// brianne burnell

Crushing on Fortnight Lingerie

With a piece of lingerie inspired by a Dolly Parton song, Fortnight Lingerie had no trouble capturing the hearts of wornettes everywhere. Their 2012 collection takes its cue from the classic rock muse, providing women from sizes 30A to 38E the chance to float away and follow their creative spirit—be it under the pencil skirt she wears to work, or in the privacy of her bedroom. When WORN was given the pleasure of using a few pieces from the most recent collection in Cut and Print, the photo shoot inspired by Ed Wood Jr. for issue 14, the entire production team was left drooling over the intricacy and subtle charm of every stitch and strap. Handmade by designers Christina Remenyi and Addie Chown in their lovely Toronto studio, each garment feels as if it holds its own mysterious past. Here, we speak with Christina to get to the bottom of where Fortnight Lingerie began, their inspirations, and even some of their own dirty laundry.

Tell us about how Fortnight came to be. When did you decide to start designing together?
I’ve always been drawn to lingerie, but had a hard time finding designs that I actually wanted to wear… They were either too basic, or too elaborate. I really wanted to create a line of lingerie that presented a new vision of feminine style by embracing structure, tailoring, and modern design all at the same time.

I studied lingerie design and construction overseas, after graduating from fashion at Ryerson University. I also worked in a bra-fitting boutique where I witnessed firsthand the huge void in the market for fashionable lingerie in a wide range of sizes. I spent several years developing this idea and when I was ready to develop a (very) small collection, I magically met Addie [Chown]. She had just come back from traveling across Central America and was looking for temporary work. Addie came on to help with pattern-making and production, and the rest is history! Addie has since become an integral part of the development, design, and growth of the company. Addie had worked for notable Canadian designers in Montreal and Toronto before joining Fortnight Lingerie.

Describe your work process.
Iʼm closely involved in every aspect of our garments’ creation. Most days Iʼm in production and part of the sewing process. Right now weʼre working on a new collection, which is a really exciting time. Addie and I start by searching for new fabrics, then we go through a rigorous testing stage, where we make sample after sample to ensure the fabricʼs ʻperformance abilityʼ and to perfect the fit of each new style we design.

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Here Come the Bridesmaids

It was like being caught in an undertow of taffeta, sequins, and snarky sales-woman infested waters. Every ill-fitting strapless dress my mother, grandmother, and even mother of the groom threw at me, pushed me further and further under, as I held my breath, nodding and smiling at each shiny and overpriced gown suggested. Shopping for bridesmaid dresses is an inherently flawed process—not to mention shopping for bridesmaid dresses with a matrilineal train following your every step. The idea behind squeezing several (or in our case, fortunately, two) women into the same dress has always baffled me, and I feel it has remained an unspoken—and, in some cases, blatant—joke on the entire bridal industry. With upwards of 14 sizes between myself and the other bridesmaid, I figured the most difficult part would be finding a silhouette that we both felt confident in—the thought of pleasing the entire bridal party at the same time never really crossed my mind.

My sister selected her wedding gown with minimal objection. Years of guilty Say Yes to the Dress and Wedding SOS pleasures under my rhinestoned belt, I knew how important it was to take the back seat when it came to dress selection, Ohhhing and Awwing at every ruffle and lace-up bodice and puckered skirt. When she finally found one that she loved, my family followed suit, telling her what a beautiful choice she had made.

Grandmother and Grandfather of the author and their bridesmaids, 1959

Weeks later, it was my turn. With the help of my fellow bridesmaid, I zipped up the back of the boat-neck cocktail dress. The sample I tried was clearly too big for me, a fact that I wished to exaggerate by putting on a pair of satin pumps that on my 7.5 feet, looked like they belonged to RuPaul circa 1992. As my sister (who had no strong opinion on what dress we wore) opened the door, I was hit with a wall of silent indifference, bordering on dissatisfaction; standing on a foot-tall pedestal, I never felt smaller. As the door closed, my mother’s question, “that’s the one she likes?” echoed in my sartorial lobe.

If hours of pillaging my closet before simply running down the street to get hot chocolate from that handsomely bearded barista had convinced me that it wasn’t myself who I dressed for, this experience taught me the contrary. Though my mother’s comment and the general lackluster response to the dress hurt, in the end, it didn’t alter my decision. If this was the dress I felt best in, this was the dress I would wear.

A friend once noted a defense mechanism I unknowingly reverted to when showing him a new garment I had purchased. Before giving him—or anyone, for that matter—the chance to state an opinion on whatever splendid trappings lay before them, I would blurt out, “Well, I like it”— simultaneously affirming my confidence in the garment’s beauty and shutting out potential naysayers. Though I didn’t verbalize this in the moment, the sentiment stands firmer than any starched crinoline or organza swatch. Like the old saying goes, “No one puts Baby in a corner.” And no one—not mothers, grandmothers, or saleswomen—puts Casie in a bridesmaid dress she doesn’t like.

text by Casie Brown

Rachel Wornette

I’m Rachel and I’m tall. I love to eat food and listen to country music. I always laugh at my own jokes and I love cats—even though I don’t have one. I study fashion at Ryerson and love every second of it. Normally, I live my life flying by the seat of my pants (or skirt) and make decisions at the drop of a hat (or cute scarf). I love to learn and am always on the hunt for new information and ideas. I am finding that at this point I am in a state of change, and my sense of style is growing and morphing. I like excitement, but hate loud noises.

It all started when I was about 12 years old. I was a lanky, quiet, awkward child and I found escape in my mothers Chatelaines. The women on those pages were graceful, put together, chic, and elegant. The obsession grew, and I began tearing out pages, which is when my mom got me my first subscription—so I could tear up my own magazines. I am now an organized hoarder of publications and keep every magazine I buy. Basically, working here at WORN is a way to satisfy my obsession, and allow myself to be around more magazines.

Current Inspirations:

Plaid Magazine
This magazine is a small publication that comes out of Toronto. It is put out twice a year, and features awesome photos and local designers. They also profile bigger designers, giving the readers an inside scoop. It also has a few opinion columns, music, and gallery reviews. I mainly love this magazine for the gorgeous photos that are inside. I definitely rip out a lot of pages from this one.

Pretty Dresses in the Laundry
This Tumblr, which is now its own website, is a photo-blog that I am infatuated with. They choose dreamy photos that have a sense of whimsy. Just like in the title, the photos feature gorgeous and girly dresses and girls that are young and free. I mainly like this blog because it transports me to another place, where girls can run free through fields in beautiful ball-gowns. ‘Cause that never happens in real life.

Man Repeller
The Man Repeller is a woman who writes a blog about fashion. Not the typical style blog, she is hilarious about what she wears and takes a great approach to high fashion trends. She created the term “Man Repeller” which basically means dressing in a way that repels men with its obscurity and general weirdness. Her sense of humor is spot-on, and she gets front row access to some pretty big shows—so you get both!

Value Village
I am not sure if this counts as inspiration… but I’m in love with Value Village. I go there to run my fingers through rows and rows of preloved cotton button-up shirts and soft leather balmorals. I think about who owned the old prom dresses and wedding gowns, and about how someone loved them. I like to feel like my wardrobe has a story behind it. And I also go there to people watch, because Value Village shoppers are great.

photography by Casie Brown