Crushing on Gemma Correll

Gemma Correll is a UK based illustrator and creator of What I Wore Today (Drawings) - a favourite website of many a Wornette. Here, we chat with Gemma about outfit illustrations, zine making and tie-dyed leggings.

How did you dress in high school?
Well, at school itself I didn’t have a lot of choice, since we had to wear a uniform. But outside of school, I was into the “indie” style of tight band T-shirts and flared jeans- although I did also go through a hippy phase (tie-dyed leggings!) which I’d rather forget.

What is a typical workday like for you?
Well, it kind of builds up slowly. I am not a morning person, so I start the day checking my e-mails and guzzling coffee. After that, I run errands, walk my dog, go to the post office… After lunch, I’m ready to work. I’ll usually work from 2pm until 1am, with breaks for food, coffee and pug cuddles.
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Backyard Arts and Crafts

For me, summertime has always been about projects. As the school year winds down, I begin to make lists in my head of all the ways I want to spend my time: I will read nothing but Jane Austen novels, I will photograph something every day, I will teach myself to sew. Sometimes I accomplish these things, and sometimes I don’t – but every year, I begin the summer with a hopeful bunch of plans and although I’ve never managed to complete them all, I’ve also never ignored my list completely. I may not do everything, but I always do something, and the break is a little more interesting because of it.

This summer, the project at the top of my list was tie-dye. I don’t know what possessed me. I’ve always been sort of indifferent to the aesthetic. I have owned exactly two pieces of tie-dyed clothing in my life: One was an oversized t-shirt I dyed at summer camp when I was seven, and the other was a pink and purple shirt I bought on sale on a family vacation last summer. I’ve neither loved nor hated either of these pieces of clothing. Sometimes a shirt is just a shirt. Multicoloured swirls and I had no real relationship – happy, sad or otherwise.
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Hat People

I have been looking for some sort of summer hat. In my daydreams, a floppy-brimmed sunhat does the trick nicely. I went as far as to visit a hat store a few weeks ago, plucking hat after hat off the racks and, inevitably, sighing and returning hat after hat back where it belonged – far away from my head. The last hat I tried on could have, I think, been perfect – but in the end I returned that one to the shelf, too. I wondered if it would be the sort of thing I bought while feeling hopeful and brave and then, once I was at home and faced with actually having to wear it out into the world, would chicken out.

I bought a hat this past winter. It was a little burgundy cloche and, at the time, it seemed like a nice way to ease myself into the hat world – it wasn’t too conspicuous, and it made me feel pretty classy. I wore it often and I felt stylish more than I ever felt uneasy. But, even then, every time I stepped out the door I was suddenly acutely aware of the fact that very few people wear hats anymore. My philosophy when it comes to fashion is, generally, not to care too much about what other people think – but where hats are concerned, maybe because hat wearing seems like some sort of lost art, I can’t help it. I care.

I think my obsession may have begun with my hat-wearing neighbour. I visited with her one night last fall, and watched in awe as she pulled hat after hat out of her closet, full of stories about where they came from and where she wore them and who she was with when it happened. I was amazed at how, decades and decades later (she is well into her seventies), every hat was still in excellent shape. I kept thinking, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to do this with my grandchildren (or grand-neighbours, as the case may be). I decided then and there that I was going to become a hat person. But it’s proving to be more of a challenge than I thought.

As far as my elusive summer hat goes, my most recent decision on the matter is this: I am going to ease myself into things all over again. I have started with the headscarf. So far, it’s working out rather well. Headscarves, too, are a form of headgear I’ve always admired from afar but been a bit wary of trying out on my own. But, depending on the day, a scarf makes me feel like a pirate or a biker or bohemian or some terrifyingly awesome combination of the three. I could get used to this.

And, if I can get used to this, I will get used to a sunhat, too.

It may take a while, but I’ll become a hat person yet. Just wait.

- Hailey Siracky

Small-Town Secondhand: A Tribute to the Elk Island Thrift Store

The last time my mom made the drive from our small prairie town to visit me at university, she brought some bad news.

“Hailey,” she said, gravely. “The thrift store is closing.”

Witnesses say the look on my face would have made the devil himself feel sorry for me.

* * * * *

I have a serious attachment to the Elk Island Thrift Store. It opened the in the spring of my Grade 11 year, in the midst of a particularly awkward phase of my existence. Being sixteen in a small town is difficult in that your pool of peers is very small and fairly homogeneous. Sometimes it seems like the only way to survive is to try to be like everybody else, and even if you’re not called out for being different, the tiniest deviation from the norm is painfully obvious. For a girl who had little interest in the jeans-and-t-shirts norm, but who was also fairly shy and uneasy with attention, getting dressed felt like a struggle between wearing what I liked and trying to blend in. Until the thrift store opened, my decisions were simple in that my fashion resources were scant. But then -

It started with a small collection of secretary blouses. These became a staple in my high-school wardrobe. I wore them often with jeans and a pair of fairly enormous boots. I began, also, to build a collection of oversized sweaters, usually with crazy patterns. One of my favourite items was a cream-coloured cardigan, crocheted (I think?) with an intricate pattern around the collar. A year after I bought it, I wore it to my art class and got paint smeared on the sleeve. It wouldn’t come out, but I wore the sweater anyway – and even now, I cannot bear to part with it. Sometimes I push up the sleeves and hope nobody notices, and other times I wear the sleeves down and hope nobody cares.
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