Fashion Education

A collection of Wornette-approved fashion links from around the web

History: What Did The Renaissance Man Wear? Historian Recreates Outfit from The 16th Century
Change your outfit and change your fortune. Sounds like a fairytale, doesn’t it? Maybe not. A researcher at the University of Cambridge has discovered that dressing for success may have helped one German wine merchant’s son-turned accountant catapult into the nobility. Dr. Ulinka Rublack and dress historian Jenny Tiramani have recreated a piece worn by Matthäus Schwarz based on one of the many detailed portraits Schwarz had commissioned of himself wearing items from his prized wardrobe. The replicated outfit is helping to illuminate the role fashion played politically and socially during the Renaissance. The original item, which was worn by Schwarz on the occasion of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s return to Germany after a period of Protestant uprising, demonstrated his respect for the Emperor and commitment to the Catholic faith, and according to Rublack, played a role in Schwarz’s ennoblement a decade later.

Home Economics: Standard Apparel: Our Clothes Don’t Fit and They’re Falling Apart
Sometimes a short piece manages to say so much with just a few carefully selected words. Such is the case with this piece by Linda Besner. As “the first generation for whom made-to-measure clothing is exotic” explains Besner, we adorn ourselves with items manufactured to a standard size meant to fit everyone and no one at the same time. Never before had I considered placing the blame on anyone but myself for the feeling of shame I get when I try something on and it doesn’t fit. By reminding us that for generations clothing was made to the specific measurements of the individual, Besner helps us realize the absurdity of constructing pieces for someone without knowing any specifics about their shape and size. She also touches on other important topics such as garment quality and the human costs of mass production, but what struck me hardest was the thought of just how many women might have a better body image if all of our clothes were custom made to fit.


Social Studies: Pop-Up Museum of Queer History Tumblr
In the 12th issue of WORN, Max Mosher took a look at the evolution of fashion in the gay community in his piece entitled “Out of the Closet.” It is an informative look into a history of the LGBT community that is not widely known or accessible. The Brooklyn-based Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, a grassroots organization dedicated to creating temporary exhibits celebrating LGBT history does the same thing with it’s Tumblr. Quick, digestible posts like this one of a couple in 1946 Greenwich Village give us a window into a way of life that was at that time largely hidden from view. Even though wearing men’s clothing had become more acceptable during the World War II, the sartorial choices of the two women in this photo would still have drawn attention to themselves.

Sex Education: My Gucci Addiction
Until I read this article by Friday Night Lights author and contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Buzz Bissinger, it had never occurred to me how gendered my interaction with fashion media has been. I rarely read about fashion from the male perspective. Bissinger’s account of his complicated relationship to fashion and addiction is a very personal story that doesn’t speak to the fashion experience for all men, but it does dispel the all too commonly held idea that an unhealthy addiction to shopping is the plight of women alone. Bissinger has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on designer items, feeding his leather fetish and providing him with the kind of stimulation he once got from writing. Bissinger himself doesn’t discriminate between women’s and men’s fashion, wearing both and seeing the former as having an “unfair monopoly on feeling sexy.” Nevertheless, clothing has given him a way to “transcend the rigid definitions of sexuality and gender” and reading this piece might help do a bit of the same for the rest of us.


Art: Rumours I’ve Heard about Anna Wintour
As the most talked about woman in fashion and the Queen of Condé Nast, Wintour holds in her hands the power to turn—whether we like it or not—the tides of fashion. But with great power comes great scrutiny, and Wintour has had more than her fair share. Sometimes, however, the rumours come in the form of gently prodding, oddly flattering cartoons like these by illustrator Lisa Hanawalt, published by The Hairpin a few years ago. “Anna Wintour does not have bowel movements. But she does lay stunning eggs,” reads the text on one hilarious drawing in the series. What Hanawalt imagines happening to those eggs is even better.

Book Review: Waisted Curves

When handed this book, I felt like I was intruding—the hand crafted spine creaked with hours of the author’s labor, and the muted green fabric frayed at the corners. I felt as though I had been handed a diary, and as it turns out, I sort of had been. Waisted Curves: My Transformation Into A Victorian Lady chronicles Sarah Chrisman’s journey from corset loather to Victorian garment educator and advocate in 250 hand-bound pages. We see Chrisman’s disdain for corsets melt away as she laces herself into the garment daily, and witness her transformation of thought and body, all brought about by an article of clothing.

Chrisman begins the narrative on her birthday, when her husband Gabriel gives her a corset as a gift. This spurs an extensive personal change, both physically and mentally. The narrow conception of corsets with which she begins the memoir quickly changes as she learns more about the history and practices of corsetry. Eventually, she dismisses the idea of the corset as oppressive as she records her changes in self-perception and self-esteem.


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Fashioning Reality: A New Generation of Entrepreneurship

I first read about Ben Barry when Teen People named him “one of twenty teens who will change the world.” I felt proud because Barry was a Canadian high school student, just a year older than me. He was on a mission to transform the fashion industry’s narrow standard of beauty by running a modeling agency that represented models of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities.

Reading Barry’s memoir Fashioning Reality, I felt like it had been written for my teenaged self. As he outlines his successes and struggles, Barry offers advice for young would-be entrepreneurs on how they too can use business to create social change. Barry started his agency when he was 14 to represent a friend who had been told by a magazine editor that she was “too big” to model. At first he was motivated by a concern that images of unhealthy models were detrimental to the health and self-worth of his friends, but he soon realized that using “real” models was also a successful business model, since companies that used his models almost always saw increased profits as a result.

Like we do at WORN, Barry believes that consumers want and deserve to see a diversity of ages, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds represented in the media. I’m a firm believer that we should never put people down to elevate others, and so I admire that he never criticizes thin women as not being “real,” instead stressing that thin, white, and tall is overdone, and argues that there’s a desperate need for greater diversity.
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