The Button-Down That Got Away

His arms had been wrapped around mine for nearly a year. In sleep, he curved around my upper body, cradling my shoulders and neck. Though I can remember numerous outings, the few photos that survived of us include an oddly framed photograph from a road-trip in 2010, and one quickly snapped on my grandfather’s Canon at a family gathering. Throughout the summer, we grew distant. Occasional visits to his new apartment and local bars would afford me a glimpse of him, and I would stare longingly as he sat crumpled on a chair, never working up the nerve to steal him back. This distance grew, and by fall we had separated for good. My handsome blue oxford button-down now hangs in a closet blocks away, surrendered to my then boyfriend.

The trade started innocently enough—the guy I was dating needed a shirt to wear after my dog had covered his own in a thick layer of fur. He buttoned it up, noticing how the shirt, which hung off of my own body in what I like to consider a jaunty way, skimmed his torso perfectly. He immediately began joking about assimilating it to his own wardrobe. Weeks later my best friend recognized the borrowed item and told him the shirt looked better on him, suggesting he keep it (what ever happened to the sisterhood?). That was the beginning of the end for my button-down.

Two months into my relationship, and I had given up any hope of reclaiming my beloved men’s dress shirt. At the time, knowing I could borrow the shirt back acted as a comfort to my loss—the cotton collegiate-style cardigan he lent me also softened the blow. After an amicable break-up, however, I have slowly had to come to terms with the fact that my shirt is gone. Custody battles and settlements aside, I have come to wonder what the post-break-up-attire rules are. Do you take back the shirt? Do you keep it? How long until you can wear said shirt? Can you go on a date wearing it? 

These questions float through my mind regularly, as I think about my forever lost oxford. I would like to believe that the image of me throwing on the shirt in the middle of the night to get a glass of water would have stained his memory of the shirt, causing a Tell-Tale Heart-esque reaction (well, not the whole disembodied part) if he even stepped near another girl while wearing it. On my end, I have casually put on the swapped cardigan numerous times without thinking twice about him, or whether I am wearing the garment respectfully. In just a month with his cardigan, I have come to learn how quickly sentimental value can be lost once a garment is thrown on four days a week—and yes, I realize I could use another cardigan to put into my rotation.

Losing someone you care about is hard—not to mention losing the shirt off your back. Though easy to replace—anyone who has wandered the men’s aisle at a Value Village knows that oxford button-downs are a dime a dozen—I’m hesitant to run out and scoop up a new one. For the moment, something about my (or his, rather) shirt seems irreplaceable; the way its cuffs took exactly three rolls to reach my elbows, or how despite steam or ironing, the fabric between its white buttons remained permanently wrinkled. The daunting task of finding a replacement, or the fear of that replacement running off with another well statured 16.5-necked man, keeps my closet free of men’s dress shirts for the time being. I can only hope the oxford button-down that got away is being cared for, loved, and well worn.

text by Casie Brown

Book Review – Style Diaries: World Fashion from Berlin to Tokyo

Scrolling through the endless list of fashion bloggers in my Google Reader, I’m often left hazily trying to remember the “who’s who” and the “who wore what” of the fashion blogosphere. Outfit photos are updated daily, new bloggers are constantly emerging, and the images and clothing we love on one day become ephemeral, disappearing into the sartorial black hole we call fashion blogging. Simone Werle’s Style Diaries attempts to pin down the inherently fleeting nature of the “daily outfit shot,” fossilizing these images between cover and spine. The pocket-sized book serves as an interesting freeze frame of indie dress and culture at a particular moment in time and, of course, as seen through Werle’s lens. In just short of 400 pages, Werle profiles dozens of fashion bloggers, who she claims make up “the most visible arm of the indie fashion scene.” While these profiles are predominately made up of striking images ripped straight from the archives of each blog, each blogger is also introduced with a short blurb of personal facts.


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Crushing on Michael Lista (Yes, That Michael Lista)

When Haley Wornette suggested we do a crush on poet Michael Lista, we jumped at the opportunity — a storm of clicks resonated through Parkdale as our heels landed on the ceramic floors of the WORN office. Lista’s first book of poems, Bloom, was released to widespread acclaim, and he is currently working on his second book titled The Scarborough. Lista describes both works as sharing “an interest in the Canadian character, and particularly the allergies of the Canadian imagination. I’m interested in the stories we ignore, or don’t want to remember. Canada’s a new country, but it suffers from an illness associated with the elderly: amnesia. I’m interested in how poetry’s mnemonic qualities can co-mingle with that Canadian amnesia.” Lista assumed his role as Poetry Editor at The Walrus on September 1st, which just so happened to be his birthday — and in Harris tweed blazers, or cuffed white slacks, Michael Lista brings a whole new meaning to the term Birthday Suit.

How does the way you dressed in high school compare to how you dress currently?
I’m sorry to report that I went to a Catholic high school, where I had to wear a uniform. Now that I think about it, the uniform is one of the few things that I actually genuinely enjoyed about the experience. Wearing the uniform — grey slacks, white button-down, tie, navy blazer — has made my default dress pretty dressy. Save the hottest of days, I don’t usually leave the house without a sport coat and tie. I just feel comfortable that way.

How (if at all) does fashion play into being a writer, or even your own poetry?
Poetry and fashion! There’s so much to say. Well of course it’s terribly unfashionable to be a poet. Most poets are terribly unfashionable. Ooh, I’ve got another one: a lot of poems bore — especially poems written by young poets— precisely because they’re trying too hard to be fashionable.

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POP Goes the Puces: Part One

Sick and tired of the homogenous slew of reality competitions — excluding Project Runway — flying through your television’s airwaves? We sure are. Take a few minutes out of daydreaming about Tim Gunn as your own fairy godfather, and check out the contestants for this year’s FASHION POP event in Montreal. We’ve interviewed each designer, and will be featuring the winner in an upcoming issue, and if that isn’t enough POP for you, check out our features on previous winners Angie Johnson (issue 10) and By Thomas (issue 12).

REMY & MERCY by KAREN VAQUILAR

Where are you from? Where do you call home now?
I am originally from Edmonton, Alberta, but Montreal has been my home for the past two years.

What is the theme of your collection?
Carpenter / Military.

Do you find that your designs evolve or change much from the initial sketch to end product?
They change all the time. It’s fun to colour outside of the lines.

What was the first garment you ever made?
A pair of boxers I made in Grade 7 home-ec class.

If you could design the wardrobe for any fictional character, who would it be?

Spock.

What is the most difficult part of designing a collection?
Having only two hands.

Do you wear your own designs?
Absolutely.

What makes Montreal style and fashion different from other Canadian cities or American fashion?
The city is really youthful and playful — people feel free to do their own thing whether it’s trendy or not. Anything goes.

GENEVIEVE SAVARD

Where are you from? Where do you call home now?
I’m from Edmonton and have been living in Montreal for a year and a half.

What is the theme of your collection?
Magic.

Do you find that your designs evolve or change much from the initial sketch to end product?
I usually change designs while draping or drafting. I might come up with a better idea, or something doesn’t work one way so I try another way. I enjoy this process as much as the drawing and dreaming.

What was the first garment you ever made?
I can’t really remember what the first garment I made was, but in my high school fashion class we had to make our own prom dress. I skipped prom and got drunk with my best friend. The prom dress was never worn.

If you could design the wardrobe for any fictional character, who would it be?
Sookie Stackhouse. I’d make her many vampy sun-dresses in blood-dyed silk.

What is the most difficult part of designing a collection?
Deadlines. And working so much that you make yourself sick.

Do you wear your own designs?
I wear most of them quite a lot, but try not to think about myself so much when designing because it messes me up.

What makes Montreal style and fashion different from other Canadian cities or American fashion?

Montreal style? I don’t know, I don’t get out much. But I do think Canada could stand to be a little more brave, fashion-wise.

MAUDE NIBELUNGEN

Where are you from? Where do you call home now?
I’m from deep in the country. Home is really where I feel good. It changes a lot over time.

What is the theme of your collection?
Lost souls of Atlantis…

Do you find that your designs evolve or change much from the initial sketch to end product?
I don’t like to restrain myself much with a sketch, or planning too much. I usually have a picture or an idea in my head, and I’ll just start knitting, writing the pattern as I am executing it. It feels more natural to me that way. By just following what seems like the evolution of the piece, they almost become living creatures for me.

What was the first garment you ever made?
I made a lot of little things for my dolls and such since the age of 5. But the one I really reckon as the first was a beanie I made when I was 13. I took hundreds of little strings of yarn from a yarn ordering book and attached them all together to knit them.

If you could design the wardrobe for any fictional character, who would it be?
Probably a manga character.

What is the most difficult part of designing a collection?
Balance. I think it’s important that the collection feels wholesome — a bit of everything, in different ways — but still having all those elements matching together somehow.

Do you wear your own designs?
I used to. Back then I was only making pieces for myself. But as I have to design and produce more and more, I tend to prefer encouraging other designers by wearing their designs.

What makes Montreal style and fashion different from other Canadian cities or American fashion?
I don’t think there is a “set” look for Montreal fashion, and there’s a lot of diversity from one designer to another. We pick here and there, mix it all up, and make something else out of it — a bit European, a bit American, and end up with a totally different look.

interviews by Casie Brown
photography by Lindsey Fast