Tying Up Loose Threads

Every other week, read WORN on The Toast

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FACT: Toasted bread is part of a nutritious breakfast. SECOND FACT: A toast is a speech you give at a celebration. THIRD FACT: The Toast is also a hilarious and smart website, run by two beautiful geniuses named Nicole Cliffe and Mallory Ortberg. FINAL, MOST IMPORTANT FACT: Every other Wednesday, you can read a healthy, celebratory column by Haley and Anna Wornette on The Toast!

Loose Threads has, so far, tackled the lessons learned by reviled and beloved pop cultural monuments like Fight Club and Sex and the City. Anna and Haley talked about the power of fashion in museums and the significance of Wendy Davis’s sneakers. Anna pulled the Vogue-iest parts of Vogue that ever did Vogue, while Haley provided some of her meanest beauty school dropout knowledge.

What’s next for Loose Threads, you ask? Let’s just say we’ve got a little something up our sleeve… *frantically searches sleeves for story ideas*

Wornettes can read Loose Threads every other Wednesday here.

Lashing Out

Ten Things About the History of False Eyelashes

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then throughout history we’ve been obsessed with the curtains. From Ancient Egypt to worldwide use today, our eyelashes have consistently been subject to enhancement. Accenting the eye can protect from the elements, embolden our gaze, prove our social status, or be a part of makeup as play. If it includes gluing tiny pieces of hair to the tiniest hairs on our face, then so be it. Below, ten moments in time that mark significant advances in the falsifying of our lashes.

1 // Cleopatra Sets the Standard
Accentuating the eye and lashes were popular pastimes among Ancient Egyptians, using dark kohl liner to heavily line all around the eyes. Not just for show, the makeup technique was also necessary for protection against the harsh desert sun.

2 // Controversial Victorian Gal
In the mid-Victorian era, the French demimondaine, or “it girl” of the time, used paint to whiten her face, rouge her cheeks and lips, and line her eyes. She also was said to have worn false lashes. This look was bemoaned by the conservatives at the time, as it conflicted greatly with their feminine ideals of “natural” beauty. Plenty of “tsk-tsking” went on, such as in the Chambers’ Journal written by William and Robert Chambers. They specifically had a bone to pick with Madame Rachel, a woman who could be considered one of the first makeup artists, as she was said to have been paid well for “enamelling” a lady’s face. The Chambers brothers referred to layering colour on the face as “living lies” and “the instrument of deception”.

3 // Lashes Get Their Big Break
Lashes were made mainstream in 1919 when makeup artist Max Factor enhanced actress Phyllis Haver’s lashes by sewing real hair onto her own. He is still credited with creating the first false lashes, though director D.W. Griffith had requested false lashes for actress Seena Owen on the set of his 1916 movie Intolerance. (He’d hoped to create the effect of her lashes “sweeping onto her cheeks.”) Factor’s early experience as a wigmaker and that he was a famous movie makeup artist are likely what made it catch on three years later, giving him all the glory to this day.

4 // It’s the ’30s – Girls Go Wild!
Vogue both recommended blue mascara for grey-haired ladies and mentioned the availability of false eyelashes of “bewildering length” to its readership in the early ’30s. The magazine also suggested eyelash “irons,” the earlier term for eyelash curlers, so that one could curl her own.

5 // Did Grandma Have a Pair?
False lashes became very widely used in the early ’50s. Glamorous bombshells and film stars were said to wear them both day and night, often using a full set for night and then, the next morning, separating them into individuals for day use. The popularity of film stars and the growth of big beauty brands made the look more accessible to and popular among the masses.

6 //The Skinny on Twiggy
’60s supermodel Twiggy’s painted-on lower lashes and full top-set (often three pairs on top of each other) sparked a major trend which became her iconic look, still referenced in editorials today. Toward the end of the decade, Helena Rubinstein advertised a set of false lashes called “Shaggy” Minute Lashes which came with an applicator. Beauty brand Andrea, which still makes false lashes today, advertised 21 pairs of false lashes available in both black and brown, even including a glitter strip that could be applied to the top of any pair. As Andrea’s ad explained, “Because no two women are alike…”

7 // Minimalism Can’t Stop Us
In the ’90s, a minimal makeup look was popular. A natural beauty in a slip dress, butterfly hair clips, and combed through, lightly mascacra-ed lashes (we’re thinking of you, Drew Barrymore), was the look, but artist Kevyn AuCoin used  expertly applied false lashes to completely transform the faces of celebrities in his books, The Art of Makeup and Face Forward. In the latter, he used a “spiky set” of falsies in which the lashes were clumped together, turning supermodel Christy Turlington into Marisa Berenson’s twin, noting in the how-to section that individual lashes could be applied along the lower lash line as well. A full set was also used to transform Hilary Swank into a dead-ringer for Raquel Welch.

8 // Lashes Hit a Lo
In 2001, J-Lo’s Red Fox Fur lashes made by Shu Uemura at the Academy Awards were flown in for her, causing controversy due to the material and the expense. They also started a buzz for luxe lashes, and were a catalyst for Uemura opening Tokyo Lash Bar, a high-end counter with seasonal lash collections, in 2004.

9 // So Shu Me!
In 2009, Madonna wore a mink and diamond pair of lashes (once again by guru Shu Uemura) which cost $10 000. Some of us balked at the extravagance, while others didn’t bat an eyelash, snatching up the 1000 pairs produced until they were sold out. 2009 also saw models on the fall runways bedazzled on the lash front, in tulle and sequins at Chanel by makeup artist Peter Philips, to outrageous fluttering lengths at Dior by makeup artist Pat McGrath. Both Milan’s Dolce & Gabbana and Versace (also styled by Pat McGrath) featured enhanced versions that seemed more typically glamour girl compared to the former, but which still helped created high demand that season for falsies.

10 // Lash Blast
Today, embellished and extravagant pairs are as readily available as high heels, and are used by performers regularly. Editorials consistently feature lashes made of feathers and mixed materials, like Paperself’s paper versions. Lash Bars are now springing up in urban centers, providing lash-only services from dying, to application, to extensions. Lashes have peaked and are now available for anyone – whatever your fancy and budget.

text// Andrea Victory-LaCasse (AVL)
images // Larissa Haily Aguado

Change Room

A tale of great customer service—or a SPIRITUAL AWAKENING?

As a plus-sized woman, clothes shopping is the bane of my existence. I can spend over an hour eyeing the racks at the stores looking for Whitney-friendly wear (loose-fitting or oversized tops, stretchy sweaters, princess-cut dresses, and nothing that can be described as “form-fitting”), only to meet my match in the fitting room. The worst is when the mirrors are outside the change room, forcing me to walk the plank and parade around in front of everyone in the store. This almost always comes with prying eyes from the skinny salesgirls and customers, whose main concerns are if a colour looks good on them and not that they’d look like a stuffed sausage. It’s the same story, repeated again and again—I’ll leave the store with only a broken spirit.

Until one fateful evening in Montreal, that is. After hours of trying on baggy tunics in a bunch of outlet stores, I noticed a brightly lit Betsey Johnson store, appearing as a beacon in an otherwise gloom-filled day. Frilly frou-frou dresses, bedazzled cardigans and sky-high heels hung from racks, sat on shelves and burst from display cases. Wall to wall were rock-chic tutus, gloves, arm warmers, and berets shimmering with decals; purses in leopard prints, shiny metallic silvers, blues, reds, and purples; and bold, sparkling belts and jewelry. I stared longingly at all the clothes that I wished would fit my plus-size physique; this was, in every other way, “Whitney’s Wonderful Emporium.” It was the intersection of so many fun and wonderful places, containing the glamour of a rock show, the whimsy of Willy Wonka’s factory, and the meticulous curating of a museum. And like a real museum, I dared not touch anything. I took one wistful look around me, then turned around to leave.

I didn’t get far before a sales associate stopped me, asking if she could help. Normally, I would have politely said “no thank you,” but I couldn’t abandon those clothes without giving them a fair chance (Did I mention the tutu?). In a small voice I explained that while I loved every single thing in the store, I bore no delusions of petiteness and knew nothing would fit. But the sales girl wouldn’t take no for an answer.

She plunked me in the change room and set out to navigate the wild rapids of frothy dresses, bringing me lacy and delicate garments I would have never dared pick out myself—one wrong move and I would split these in half like the Hulk. But she encouraged me to give them a try.

After building my confidence with a few sunnily-patterned sheath dresses, I found myself worming into a tight black pencil skirt with a jaunty peplum. I was attracted to that skirt, but in the same way I might be attracted to Leonardo DiCaprio—that is to say, from a distance. Actually trying it on could be enough to end a love affair; if this one didn’t fit, that would be the end of this little pretense. With a loose white cashmere poncho on top and a pair of electric blue heels that felt alien on my feet, I was ready for my usual disappointment.

As I emerged, the customer in the change room next to me said “Whoa.” I looked in the mirror and was shocked; I had legs. The skirt fit perfectly and clung to my body in all the right places. I looked tall and polished and felt flat out sexy. For the first time ever, I felt great in a fitting room.

I purchased the outfit and sincerely thanked the sales associate. I wish I could remember the name of the woman who guided me through this intimate awakening. I never go shopping with girlfriends, mostly ’cause we can’t shop in the same stores, so I could never relate to other women who spoke of shopping as some female bonding experience—until now. What was probably a regular work day for this woman helped me overcome some pretty deep personal insecurities. I walked out of the store grinning and high off my epiphany into a twilit evening. Suddenly all these possibilities were in front of me, and I couldn’t stop putting outfits together in my head. Was it an artificial high brought on by consumerism? That’s one way to interpret it, but I finally felt like I could fit in with these cultural arbiters so often relegated to femininity (after all, it’s a lot easier to think about subverting convention when the rules automatically apply to you). I finally knew how Becky Bloomwood felt after a particularly erotic session of shopping at Prada, or the cult of Carrie Bradshaw that swept the nation in the late ’90s.

This was going to change everything.

photography // Brianne Burnell

A Nail Tale

I’m not wearing nail polish today. I’m watching my unpolished nails tap, tap, tap at the white keys of my computer. They’re so bare looking. My nails nearly blend into my fingertips! There might as well be no nails there at all!

This summer, I have two jobs. One is in a coffee shop, where the uniform is all black and the health and safety rules tell me that nail polish (even clear!) is, by all means, prohibited. The other is in a clothing store where I’m encouraged to express my own style (which most often happens to include, you guessed it, nail polish). I work the first half of the week at the former job, and the second half at the latter. There are no in-between days. My head spins and my two personalities are neatly divided. On Wednesday afternoons, I leave Job #1 and head for #2, applying nail polish in the hours between, if there’s time. If there isn’t, I do it before working at Job #2 on Thursday. Then it comes off on Sunday morning before I dutifully show up, clean-tipped, at Job #1.

Before this summer of two jobs, I never realized how much a small rule like “no nail polish” could feel like a constraint on my freedom of expression. I also never realized how hopelessly addicted I am to nail polish – maybe in the same way that someone else may be addicted to bright blue hair dye, but that’s not allowed at Job #1 either.

- Stephanie Fereiro