What to Wear When Hot on the Trail

Whether solving crime or cracking codes, it's best to do it in style

Fashion has always been filled with mysteries: What is hiding behind Karl Lagerfeld’s sunglasses? How can there be more than 52 fashion weeks in a year? Lotion and denim—meant to be?

Then, there are some things we don’t even need to question. As long as there have been sleuths—whether in fact or fiction—there has been clothing to covet, be it elaborate disguises or the more traditional trench coats. We got our Wornettes to get to the bottom of the case in figuring out who the best-dressed detectives are.


Dr. Julia Ogden (CityTV/CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries)
As Murdoch Mysteries‘ token “New Woman,” Dr. Ogden is a doctor, early forensics specialist, and women’s health advocate. She is also intellectually and temperamentally a perfect match for the series protagonist, Detective William Murdoch, and their partnership is the heart of the show. Her style reflects her position as a woman in a world of men, and she is almost always wearing menswear inspired pieces like ties, vests, and separates. But as the show has progressed and her presence has become more accepted (and she has moved away from the autopsy table), her dress has grown softer and more feminine. In the season 5 finale, she sexed it up completely in a black and red, low cut, sleeveless, beaded and sequined ball gown, the perfect outfit for a woman who is about to leave her husband for another man in 1900. Intelligent, brave, and forward-thinking, she’s the woman I would want to be if I were alive in Victorian Toronto—heck, she’s the woman I want to be now. // Megan Patterson


Hercule Poirot (multiple Agatha Christie novels)
“The neatness of his attire was almost incredible,” Captain Arthur Hastings remarked about his old friend Hercule Poirot in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. “I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound.” Useful, when one’s job is solving crimes.

Agatha Christie introduced her diminutive, fastidious, and arrogant detective in the ’20s. She couldn’t have known that the transplanted Belgian, with small mincing steps, would follow her the rest of her life. Poirot was laid to rest the same year as his creator, in 1975. By then, his three-piece suits, bowler hats, and patent leather shoes were ludicrously out of date. But it’s fitting that a character that Christie described as a “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep,” would stubbornly cling to his jazz age style in the era of punk.

Poirot’s most famous attribute was without a doubt his moustache—a small handlebar, always perfectly waxed. In some Poirot films, he’s even shown wearing a moustache-net while sleeping. When dressing actor David Suchet, the definitive Poirot from the BBC series, the costume designers tested 40 fake moustaches in order to find the most symmetrical one. For costumers, as well as detectives, details are of the utmost importance. // Max Mosher



Jessica Fletcher
(CBS’s Murder she Wrote)
It ain’t easy maintaining a sleepy east coast lifestyle while catching crooks on the regular in rural Maine, but Jessica Fletcher pulls it off with as much flair as guile. Whether she’s unearthing a crime at a Native American archaeological dig, dining with one of her countless nieces and nephews, or sleuthing with Magnum PI on a trip to Hawaii, she does so with an elegance that can only come with knowing that her night out will end up with her talking to the cops (seriously, does nobody question that wherever she goes, reckless murder tends to follow?). With clip-on earrings, jaunty hats, houndstooth jackets and a scarf collection that would earn jealous glares from the likes of Nancy Drew, her mix of belted, shoulder-padded mackintoshes and smart button-down vest combos offer up the best of nor’eastern fashion that makes us all want to curse, “clam dip!” // Whitney Wager


Carmen SanDiego
Where in the world is Carmen SanDiego? We never actually figured that out, but her tomato-red trench coat remains unmistakeable. Sandiego was the title outlaw of the 1980s children’s computer game where players scoured the globe looking for clues of the thief’s whereabouts. SanDiego wore the classic bank robber’s uniform of all black, topped off with a bright red floor-length trench coat and matching fedora, always poised for the getaway. It’s a testament to her stealthiness that she could remain perpetually untraceable while wearing some of the most noticeable clothes, earning her the apt nickname of “The Lady in Red.” Sure, unlike the other names on this list, SanDiego was more a crime starter than a crime solver, but her conspicuously coloured trench was the ultimate subversion of classic detective attire. // Isabel Slone


Mata Hari
Marilyn might have sung “Diamonds are a girls best friend,” but it could have easily been said by the French courtesan Mata Hari, who was executed during WWI for being a supposed double agent. Often seen lavished in exotic diamond head-pieces and decadent silks fit for a bold spy disguised as an Egyptian goddess, Mata Hari’s glamour possessed an intruding sexiness uncommon during the still reserved days of Edwardian Europe.

When Greta Garbo played her in the 1931 film Mata Hari, the velvets, the furs, and the intoxicating amount of bling undoubtedly became one of the strongest focal points in every scene; so exuberant are they that it puts every modern-day Kardashian’s luxury to shame. But it’s not the excess of luxe that makes Mata Hari a fashionable dream—with a hazardous history of prostitution, seduction, and espionage. It’s the way in which all her diamonds are threaded with dangerous mystery, intrigue, and two-facedness that allow her and her style to become the quintessential archetype for dicey femme fatale glamour. Even James Bond called her his first true love. // Paulina Kulacz

Lana Kane (FX’s Archer)
Archer is one of those cartoons in a post-Simpsons world in which you can’t let its animated facade fool you—this is not a show for kids. It constantly straddles the line between delightfully subversive and obnoxious bro-humor with its frustrating Don Draper-meets-James Bond protagonist, secret agent Sterling Archer. Lana Kane (Aisha Taylor) is Archer’s ex-girlfriend and coworker, her no-bullshit attitude providing him much needed foil. And though the way she is drawn recalls ridiculously sexist notions of female anatomy seen in many male-targeted comic books (seriously, her chest-waist-hips ratio makes Barbie look like a stick) she actually gets to fight crime wearing relatively sensible clothing. OK, her high-heeled boots are a little nuts (though impeccably badass), but she’s got a whole wardrobe of these turtleneck sweater dresses that she wears to the office that scream, “I Enjoy Being an Attractive Lady But Also it is Important That I am Comfortable While Doing Behind The Scenes Intel Work Yet if Need be I can Also Easily Kick Your Ass in This Skirt, Also: Check Out My Gun Holsters; I Have Two of Them.” If only my own knitwear could be so badass. // Anna Fitzpatrick


Harriet the Spy (1996 film adaptation of Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh)
Forget typical trench-coats and fedoras. Eleven year old Harriet M. Welsch does her best secret snooping in classic ’90s grade-school style. Solid tees are layered over long-sleeved stripes, jeans and hoodies are very baggy, and plaid flannel is never far out of sight. On duty, Harriet (played by Michelle Trachtenberg before she became an evil mastermind) wears a bright yellow raincoat and a matching utility belt (it holds up her massive jeans and carries vintage spy supplies); her ever-present “PRIVATE” notebook is tucked in the front of her jeans and binoculars hang around her neck. Harriet is always ready for action, whether she’s hiding in a rich lady’s dumbwaiter or hanging from her best friend’s window ledge. Most of the time she’s sticking to practical pieces in primary colours—except when she’s dancing to James Brown in an onion costume. // Stephanie Fereiro


Joan Watson (CBS’s Elementary)
Being TV’s first gender-swapped Watson wasn’t enough for Joan—she also had to have a pretty wicked sense of style. As a born and bred New Yorker, I suppose this only makes perfect sense. When we think of Dr. Watson from other adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, we typically think of someone very stuffy and buttoned up, and his style has always reflected that. Jane Watson on the other hand, exudes fresh breath of casual air, in her demeanor and her clothing. Her wardrobe is the exact opposite of the stuffy Victorian gentleman’s—flowy tops, leggings, perfect unstructured jackets, LOTS of New York-appropriate black, and miniskirts (girlfriend loves a miniskirt, and has on more than one occasion worn a leather one). Lucy Liu makes it all look effortless in that infuriating way she has, even the parts that involve dead bodies (which is, of course, most of them). // Megan Patterson

illustrations //
Jenn Woodall
To see more stylin’ detectin’, check out our Nancy Drew inspired editorial in issue 9 of WORN Fashion Journal.

New African Fashion

A refreshing look at the vast array of gorgeous fashion coming out of Africa

In university, I was in the hippiest program to ever grant a legitimate Bachelor’s Degree: Environmental Studies. In third year, my dreadlocked friend came back from a summer volunteering in Ghana wearing the most explosively patterned pants I have ever seen: multicolored rainbow fish swimming in a sea of deep blue Batik, custom made for him by a skilled tailor.

Right from its cover, New African Fashion supported my perception of Africa as a continent bursting at the seams with vibrant colour and patterns. The book is packed with rich visual spreads, accompanied by short profiles of African fashion designers. It’s a fascinating portrait of how the world’s poorest continent fits into the scheme of the global fashion industry.

Author Helen Jennings, (editor of ARISE magazine, “Africa’s first and foremost international style magazine,”) uses a broad brush to define “African Fashion.” She profiles designers living, working, and contributing to the rich cultural fabric of the continent, like Lagos-native Folake Folarin-Coker. Some are African-born and have gone on to find success in other countries, and others use Africa as their inspiration (the French-Ivoirian designer, Pierre-Antoine Vettorello).

Duro Olowu is one of the more famous names in African fashion. Olowu moved to London to pursue his career in fashion design and shows his funked-up bohemian garments each season at New York Fashion Week. Olowu’s busy textiles have earned consistent acclaim from the fickle fashion industry. He was named New Designer of the Year at the 2005 British Fashion Awards, the same year US Vogue coined his v-neck patterned shift the “Duro dress.”

Not surprisingly, most of the designers in New African Fashion cannot be lumped into one aesthetic category. “African fashion is as varied as the continent itself,” says Ann McCreath, designer of KikoRomeo. Hebret Lakew of the label Kooroo strives to design colourful “ethnic fusion” garments for everyday wear. Omer Asim and Maya Antoun of Khartoum, Sudan design delicately pleated, Audrey Hepburn-inspired little black dresses. Bunmi Koko goes the Lady Gaga route, designing pointy-shouldered space-age garments that would be perfectly at home on an episode of Star Trek.

Maki Oh, hailing from Nigeria, is, in my opinion, the book’s most memorable designer. Many of her designs focus on breasts: a jersey dress with two strategically cut spirals, or a trompe l’oeil mosaic print reminiscent of Vivienne Westwood’s early punk designs. Oh’s Autumn/Winter 2011 collection was based on the Dipo rite of passage into womanhood of rural Ghana; it included a jacket painstakingly adorned with reeds, referencing the sleeping mats traditionally given to brides on their wedding day.

Though most of New African Fashion falls into the womenswear category, there are a few menswear designers in the mix. South Africa-based Stiaan Louw designs silky warrior-esque pieces “for guys who don’t usually wear suits.” And his work includes everything from drapey trousers cut from indigenous fabrics to more traditional, double-breasted looks.

New African Fashion is a survey intended to cover the gaping void in media coverage of fashion in Africa, and should be prominently displayed next to the tired Chanel retrospectives. It is a refreshing and commendable stab at an extremely broad and underrepresented market. In the words of Ghanaian-born designer Mimi Plange: “Fashion is fantasy, it makes us dream big and that is what Africa needs right now.”

New African Fashion by Helen Jennings. Prestel, 2011.

book report // Isabel Slone
photography // Brianne Burnell

The Motherloads

Everything we know about fashion, we learned from our TV mothers

Television opponents like to accuse parents of letting the boob tube raise their children. I gotta say—what’s wrong with that? For decades now, TV has been home to some effective mothers, from the lax and laid back to the strict and tough, with the wardrobes to match.

In deciding to profile some of the most stylish TV moms, we didn’t, of course, imagine this to be a comprehensive list—just a picking of some of our staff’s particular favourites. Want to gush about Jane Jetson or Peggy Bundy? Tell us in the comments. But first, sit down, read what we have to say, and don’t forget to eat your vegetables.

1 > Roseanne Conner from Roseanne (1988-1997)
Although comedian Roseanne Barr succeeded in turning her “Domestic Goddess” standup routine into a half-hour sitcom, the look of her character on Roseanne was anything but divine. Sweaters, simple button-downs and jeans made up Roseanne Conner’s wardrobe—that is when she wasn’t wearing her retro-kitsch waitress uniform.

The costumes were a way for the show to reflect the everyday authenticity of Lanford, Illinois. Roseanne battled with the wardrobe master over pricey clothes which made her “look like a show pony rather than a working-class mom.” As she wrote in New York Magazine, “I wanted vintage plaid shirts, t-shirts, and jeans, not purple stretch pants with green-and-blue smocks.”

The wardrobe master admitted that head office instructed her to ignore what the star wanted to wear because they did not approve of how Roseanne was portraying the character (despite the fact that the character was obviously based on herself). While not a trendsetter, Roseanne deserves credit for sticking to her guns and bringing some realness to ‘Must See TV.’ WORN celebrates Roseanne for wearing what she wanted, even if we never found out what the deal was with that ubiquitous chicken shirt. // Max Mosher


2 > Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show (1984-1992)
As a kid (and, okay, kind of recently) we’ve spent many a sick day watching re-runs of The Cosby Show and wondering how one family could be so sartorially spot-on. Mr. Huxtable had his iconic sweaters, and Denise—well, Denise’s style was clearly not dreamt up by mere mortals. But the one family member who is most deserving of our nail art-embellished and bracelet-jangling applause is Mama Huxtable (Phylicia Rashād) herself—er, let’s just call her Clair.

Clair was a hard-ass, capital ‘M’ Mom (and lawyer) who could make you clean your room whether you liked it or not—and she’d wear a pile of jewels and a brightly coloured onesie while she did it. Then she would throw a matching apron over top and whip up a roast dinner without scuffing even one of her immaculately manicured nails. Even when she was working in the garden, Mama Hux was put together; she pulled weeds with style in oversized dungarees, a plaid shirt with rolled-up sleeves, and a straw hat.

It’s impossible to pick a favourite of Clair’s outfits, but a recurring look she owned and we’ve always envied was the oversized blouse and skinny trouser combo; there were usually shoulder-pads involved, and there was always a carefully selected set of jewelry on top, with the occasional belt to pull it all together. Mrs. Huxtable’s knack for style is simply undeniable. // Stephanie Fereiro


3 > Vivian Banks from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)
Two actresses may have played Aunt Viv in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but it was the original who was the most memorable. Janet Hubert played matriarch of the mansion from seasons one to three. She was spunky, stylish, and a rare sight as one of the few dark-skinned, black women on TV.

Will Smith’s dayglo tanks were no match for original Aunt Viv who stole scenes with her classy, luxurious style. The sitcom mom was rarely seen without a piece of gold jewelry. She wore suits that were masterfully tailored and jumpsuits that cinched at the waist. Her nails were always manicured, her hair always full. Even when she was cuddling in bed with Uncle Phil (that’s her husband, Will’s uncle), the woman always looked beautiful. Producers eventually fired Hubert over contract riffs, replacing her with Daphne Reed from seasons four onward. And Aunt Viv was never the same. Her wardrobe wasn’t as fly, she wasn’t as forthright, and she probably couldn’t pull off this dance in a pink unitard. // Mai Nguyen

4 > Morticia Addams from The Addams Family (1964-1966)
Morticia Addams is the spooky mama of the Addams Family; played by Carolyn Jones in the ’60s sitcom that paired creepy, gothic sensibilities with a sense of humour. Morticia (the Frenchies amongst you will recognize the word “mort” means “death”) is the ultimate domestic housewife with a demented twist. Her dark yet refined look was a fixture of the show, and she is considered a style icon for classy goths both inside and out of the fashion world.

Morticia was never seen without her cascade of sleek, black hair, cat-eye make-up and clingy, floor-length black gown. She ruled her household with cool (yet perfectly manicured) hand, in contrast to her excitable husband Gomez, who could barely contain his sexual attraction to her. Morticia’s trademark style oozed glamour, and was somewhere between a silent movie star and a grim funeral-goer. // Isabel Slone

5 > Florida Evans from Good Times (1974-1979)
Florida Evans, played by actress Esther Rolle, was the lead character and fiery mother of three in Good Times. The series followed the Evans family and their lives spent in a housing project in a poor, inner-city Chicago neighbourhood. While working class families had been shown on television before, depicting the lives of black characters living in such impoverished conditions was a breakthrough in the genre.

So what’s a ’70s housewife in the projects to wear? Polyester, and lots of it. Florida’s outfits may have been tame compared to the funky wardrobes of her children, but she still had mad style. Her most memorable looks had her dressed in head to toe orange—just as fresh and bright as the fruit. Though this might be a clever comment about the state that Florida shares her name with, perhaps the choice was just a compliment to the autumn hues of the Evans’ ’70s living room. Dressed for a wedding in her “JC Penney Original”—a vibrant orange dress complete with matching bakelite necklace—Florida declares that her outfit for this uptown occasion is a little tight downtown. Like a good mother should—ain’t we lucky we got em!—Florida speaks the truth. // Jenna Danchuk

6 > Marge Simpson from The Simpsons (1989-present)
Marge Simpson has become so ingrained in pop culture as one fifth of the most iconic animated family, her style has become taken for granted. Sure, one could argue that she’s meant to represent the typical housewife (though what does that mean, really?) but quick—how many small town stay-at-home moms do you know who rock a green strapless dress, orange pearls, and a bright blue Bride of Frankenstein-style beehive? A mother of three, she understands the value of clothes to the extent that she can stop a counterfeit jean ring operating out of her car hole by recognizing their faulty stitching.

Marge is never more conscious of clothing than in the episode “Scenes from a Class Struggle in Springfield.” After rationalizing the purchase of a dramatically discounted Chanel suit (“It’ll be good for the economy”) she gets invited to a country club inhabited by Springfield’s elite. Marge desperately wants to be accepted by this new crowd, for whom living on a budget and meatloaf do not exist. It’s a world that the always resourceful Marge doesn’t understand, but nonetheless runs her sewing machine ragged trying to get the maximum mileage out of her Chanel suit. Eventually she learns that clothes are just textiles, capable of getting destroyed with the wrong amount of pressure on her sewing machine pedal, and that while they reveal a lot, they can never truly compensate for one’s values. Plus, let’s be real—her hairdo is way more chic than anything the women at the country club were sporting. // Anna Fitzpatrick

7 > Betty Draper from Mad Men (2007-present)
Ice-cold blue eyes shoot daggers through cat-eyed sunglasses, while fitted waists and full skirts cause children (even her own) to run in the other direction. January Jones as Betty Draper, or Francis rather—if we are able to picture her outside the golden era of her and Don and that blue velveteen headboard—is the ultimate in ’50s housewife style. If Grace Kelly put on an apron and went to therapy, she would be Betty. Never a blonde strand out of place or a smudged rouge pout—even while in a nighty, shooting the neighbour’s pesky pigeons.

To the world outside her suburban windows she is perfect. Her anxiety cramped hands hide in white day gloves, and as an audience we rarely see her looking dishevelled. Even sulking in polka dotted chiffon, she still manages to look way more put together than I would after a marathon Kleenex fest. For the most part, however, Betty’s costume is just that. A suit of tafetta armour, protecting the ideal she upholds.

And while the fashion thirsty Mad Men watchers in the past few seasons may have—like Don—found a new muse that’s more their cup of Scotch (cough, Megan), I would urge you not to overlook some of Betty’s sartorial adventures that prove she’s not just a cookie cutter gingham clad housewife. Remember when she recalled the story of being a muse to an Italian designer and pulled out that racy silk romper from the back of her closet? Or the time she bought that yellow bikini from the auction and confronted Don about wearing it outside (Hi, Feminism!…That is until he shamed her out of wearing it by saying she looked ‘cheap’—not cool, Draper). And, ummm, hello, this hair!? // Casie Brown

8 > Jo McGuire from Lizzie McGuire (2001-2004)
Lizzie McGuire was always one of the coolest 13-year-olds who managed to rock some the most flamboyant outfits the Disney Channel ever did see (your move, Hannah Montana). Her mom, Jo McGuire, on the other hand, was much plainer and often deemed by Lizzie as uncool. And yet, Mrs. McGuire was awesome—her look was former-hippie-turned-soccer-mom, who although plain, never lost her quirky flair. Jo’s hair was always in a simple yet complex up-do that even sometimes supported bright bandanas intricately laced. She also seemed to have a cardigan in every colour imaginable, and wore poignant thick rimmed glasses before they were the hip, go-to accessory. Still, what especially put Jo McGuire within the high ranks of super cool moms was the fact that she took Lizzie bra shopping with an enthusiasm and active motherly support that isn’t so common on television. She helped send a body-positive message to young girls wherein lingerie was seen as a part of growing up and womanly empowerment instead of a tool for male seduction with voyeuristic connotations too often seen in teenage dramas. // Paulina Kulacz

image compilation // Zoe Vos

The Wornettes do TIFF

The best outfits at the 2012 Toronto International Film Fest happened on screen

Great Expectations Mike Newell
The world probably doesn’t need another adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, but it never hurts to see one of classic literature’s greatest (and most visually interesting) characters, Miss Havisham, re-imagined yet again. In Mike Newell’s version of the story, Helena Bonham Carter plays the jilted ghostly bride (naturally) who is grandly clad in a dusty, decaying dress. The dress was designed by Beatrix Aruna Pasztor who also crafted costumes for Vanity Fair and Aeon Flux. Pasztor drowns Miss Havisham in layers and layers of lace and taffeta silk, creating more of an artistic masterpiece than a simple costume.

Even more exquisite is Miss Havisham’s lovely disciple Estella (her young and adult versions are played by Helena Barlow and Holliday Grainger, respectively). Estella wears pleated travelling dresses adorned with cascading ribbons and feathered collars in hues of blues and purples. Paired with bejeweled neck chokers, Estella’s wardrobe is aesthetically refreshing against the movie’s muddy backdrops.

And then there’s Pip, the blacksmith turned gentleman whose wardrobe is overwhelmingly vital to his transition into the upper echelons of London society. Played by Jeremy Irvine, Pip ditches his thick boots, puts on tailored suits, and gets the girl, all while turning into an uppity snob in the process.

Does this new version of Great Expectations break any new ground? Doubtful. But do the costumes live up to its period piece glory? I think the taffeta speaks for itself.
// Mai Nguyen

Deflowering of Eva van End Michiel ten Horn
This blithely haunting Dutch film unfolds around Eva, your garden variety “dork.” A chubby, bespectacled late-bloomer lacking in social skills, she remains silent for almost the entire duration of the film. Eva is a sullen, awkward girl who seems more interested in spending time with her pet rabbit and listening to her favourite pan flautist than having sex, an activity doggedly pursued by her libidinous classmates. Eva’s shyness results in her isolation from the outside world, where her family and peers treat her like a piece of furniture. Her outsider status is highlighted by her wardrobe: Eva wears mostly t-shirts emblazoned with Louis Wain cats, Converse sneakers, and ill-fitting jeans; in stark contrast to her brand-conscious classmates who love Ed Hardy, leopard print jeans, and skintight dresses.

Eva’s life changes when she is assigned an attractive but irritatingly friendly German exchange student named Viet. Viet plays the part of a clean-cut hippie; a vegetarian who financially supports an African child and meditates as his preferred form of relaxation. Viet’s wardrobe is all-white, consisting of linen tunics and Birkenstock sandals, which are meant to symbolize the purity of his beliefs yet create an ironic tension when his presence begins to wreak havoc in the van End household. It’s clever and funny with a dark, disturbing undercurrent that rears its head near the end of the film.
// Isabel Slone
Continue reading