When We Were Cats: Snapshots from WORN’s 3rd Annual Black Cat Ball

Last weekend, Toronto’s Dovercourt House housed the liveliest gathering of stylish felines since the jazzy party scene in Disney’s Aristocats. And to celebrate the release of WORN’s 17th issue, one thing was purrfectly clear—everybody wanted to be a cat. It was a lot of things. It was a soiree. It’s here now, in memory only, until next year.

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Photography // Laura Tuttle & Stephen John Crosby

Rebecca S. Wornette

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I grew up on Pop Rocks candy, Spice Girls, Kubrick films, and T-Rex albums. Growing up in a small town just north of Toronto meant ample fresh air, accompanied by knitted hats and scarves from my mother, wearing my father’s gigantic Wellington boots outside, and spending more time in a bathing suit than out of one in August. I always loved fashion, but for practicality sake, I wore mostly jeans. I would sketch designs in purple notebooks of long dresses worn with chunky heels and matching handbags on the school bus. As a teen, I would watch hours of Fashion Television, eagerly anticipate my new issues of Elle magazine, and roll my eyes every time my mother said she just didn’t “get” Alexander McQueen.

When I moved to Toronto in 2010 to study journalism, I was able to explore fashion in whole new way. Shopping no longer consisted of the get-in-and-get-out missions it did back home, and jeans weren’t always the best option. Down here I could scour the racks, discover hole-in-the-wall stores and mull things over before purchasing. Now I am 22, and complete with polka-dot pants and a cheetah-print dress. So begins my next chapter in fashion exploration. I’m delighted that WORN is a part of it.

Man Repeller
This was the very first “I will love you ’til the end of time” fashion blog I followed. As a fashion junky, Leandra Medine puts her sarcastic and hilarious spin on the clothes women love to wear which some men would probably hate. My favourite segments are those titled “Lessons in Layers” that start with somewhat simple and flattering outfits, gradually doused in fur vests, baggy sweaters and heaps of bracelets and accessories. The message: Wear what you want. Fashion should be fun, and not so serious.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “True Colours”
In this 1999 New Yorker piece, Gladwell talks about the somewhat trivial, but still important, role hair dye played during the feminist movement in the latter half of the 20th century. Taken from his book, What the Dog Saw, “True Colours” reveals the moments behind the iconic L’Oreal and Clairol slogans we know all too well.

Thisisnotporn.net
Honestly, it’s not porn…well, maybe. This Is Not Porn is a compilation of rare star and celebrity photographs taken mostly in black and white. In this jumble of candid and staged shots there are smiles, silly faces, and really super clothes.

Commercial Pattern Archive
I learned to sew somewhere around age 10 and loved going to Fabricland with my mom and flipping through the giant stacks of Simplicity and Vogue patterns. The University of Rhode Island has put together an archive—you can’t access the whole thing unless you’re a member, but I love to scroll through the old pattern covers every now and again and see the different styles from decades gone by.

Not exactly Kurt Vonnegut’s 1997 MIT Address
As a 20-something trying to make it in this glorious world, I like to keep the words from this speech plastered to the walls of my brain. But as a journalist, I love to keep this piece close simply because it keeps me questioning everything. Although attributed to Kurt Vonnegut Jr., he never actually gave this speech. Vonnegut didn’t even write it, yet it made its way around the internet as another snippet of wisdom from the brilliant writer. If you’re blogging, writing papers or articles, or just spewing facts like Siri, know your sources, source your content, and most importantly, don’t forget the sunscreen.

photography // Laura Tuttle

Yet Another Purrfect Party: WORN’s 3rd Annual Black Cat Ball Was Pawsitively Wonderfurrl

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We’re officially in my favourite time of year: the time when I get to use up all my cat puns. Don’t purrtend like you don’t love it—I’m not kitten around when it comes to my cat puns. No, I’m totally kidding, that’s literally all I’ve got.

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Lucky for you, I might have run out of cat puns, but I’m pawsitively swimming in photos from Saturday’s Black Cat Ball. For the third year in a row, over 300 Wornettes came to The Dovercourt House dressed in their black-and-white best. We danced, we pranced, and then we danced some more. Here are just a few photos for you to purruse—the full set of photos will be available on Monday. Thanks for coming out, you crazy cats!

photography // Laura Tuttle

Robert Everett-Green Examines the Menswear of the JFK Assassination

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Everyone remembers Jackie Kennedy’s pink Chanel suit, that looked so chic and fresh when she arrived in Dallas, so gory and awful when she left three hours later. But who knows anything about the clothes worn by the two men shot that sunny day in November, 1963?

The two, of course, were Texas Governor John Connally, who survived, and President John F. Kennedy, who did not. Like most politicians, neither dressed to draw attention to their clothes, yet what they wore that day was intensely scrutinized later. What happened to the clothes during the shooting helped explain what happened to the men, and even exactly when it occurred. The garments were part of the crime scene, and part of the collateral damage, sustaining injuries that mirrored those of the victims.

The president disembarked from Air Force One in a grey two-button sack suit, pin-striped white shirt, blue and grey grid-patterned tie, dark socks and black oxfords. It was a typical outfit for Kennedy, who helped popularize a relaxed variation of the Ivy League look associated with the Eastern establishment. Veteran style writer G. Bruce Boyer describes Kennedy’s preferred style of coat as a single-breasted, unvented cut with “small, soft shoulders, shallow chest and little waist suppression.” Minimal waist contour went along with the sack or sacque coat, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a loose-fitting coat the back of which is not shaped to the figure, but hangs more or less straight from the shoulders.” Boyer says Kennedy liked “plain-fronted, slim-leg, cuffed trousers,” though the ones he wore in Dallas look full by current standards. The tailor was either Sam Harris, who dressed Kennedy until 1961, or Sidney Winston (“Chipp”), another New York tailor who took over after Harris, in a Life magazine interview, spoke about the presidential wardrobe too freely for Kennedy’s liking.

Connally met the president on the tarmac at Love Field in a more conservative black wool three-button suit, tailored by Oxford Clothes for the John L. Ashe clothing store in Forth Worth. He wore a plain white Arrow shirt with French cuffs, a black and gold striped tie, and an off-white western-style hat that he held in his lap during the motorcade, and kept holding even after a bullet had damaged nerves in his wrist.

The Warren Commission examined these clothes while trying to determine the path of the first bullet to strike Kennedy, which passed through his back and neck and then (according to the Commission) inflicted several wounds on Connally. In the process, it ripped through 19 layers of cloth, as the report details with tailorly precision. The bullet, it says, “entered the back of [Kennedy's] clothing in the vicinity of his lower neck and exited through the front of his shirt immediately behind his tie, nicking the knot of his tie in its forward flight.” The Commission found holes “on the rear of the coat, 5 3/8 inches below the top of the collar and 1 3/4 inches to the right of the centre back seam,” and in the shirt “5 3/4 inches below the top of the collar and 1 1/8 inches to the right of the middle of the back of the shirt,” with corresponding holes on the shirt front below the top collar button. The report also mentions that after the wounded president arrived at Parkland Hospital, “his tie was cut off by severing the loop immediately to the wearer’s left of the knot… The tie had a nick on the left side of the knot.” The obsessive concern with exactly what happened to shirt, jacket, and tie gives you the fleeting impression that part of the crime was the damage inflicted on the clothes.

The report offers the same level of detail about the bullet’s passage through Connally’s coat, shirt, sleeve, French cuff, and pant leg, though omits the data (supplied by Connally’s wife Nellie) that the slug also shattered one of his Mexican-peso cufflinks. The Commission’s examinations of the bullet holes—jagged tears, mostly—was hampered slightly by the fact that the blood-spattered shirt had been laundered before it was given to investigators. I like to think that this washing had less to do with evidence-tampering than with someone in the Connally household finding it unseemly to hand a bloody rag over to a panel of US government officials.

The holes in Kennedy’s clothes didn’t quite match up with each other, which seemed suspicious until photos were produced that showed the president rode with the back of his jacket slightly bunched up below the neck. A detail of Connally’s clothing actually helped pinpoint the exact moment at which he and Kennedy were hit. Close examination of the famous video made of the event by Abraham Zapruder—a Dallas womenswear maker—revealed that the right lapel of the governor’s jacket swells out slightly in the film’s 223rd frame. Computer animator Dale Myers, who spotted the lapel movement in 1993, concluded that it was caused by the bullet bursting through Connally’s chest.

Like Jackie’s pink suit, the clothes Kennedy wore in Dallas have never been shown in public. (By the way, Jackie’s suit was not actually made by Chanel; it was an authorized copy made by Chez Ninon of New York, commissioned to show that the First Lady supported American clothiers). Connally’s outfit, however, went on display recently at the Texas State Archive and Library in Austin. The black suit, as shown in this slideshow, looks suitably funereal. The white laundered shirt is still speckled with rust-coloured blood stains. These are the clothes not just of a man, but of a memory that still haunts the American people and their politics.

text // Robert Everett-Green