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.

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

Wornettes reminisce about the triumphs and tears of their night at the prom

Should your streaked mascara match your shoes?

I dragged myself to prom, dressed up like a doll with a broken heart in hand instead of a clutch purse. The boy that I was convinced to be my soulmate had just broken up with me. As in, the day before.

I was absolutely devastated. My life was over. How could I even begin to think about manicures and hairspray? (In retrospect this meltdown is faintly humorous, considering just a few months later I came out as a loud and proud member of the queer community… but I didn’t know that then.) From start to finish, the “fun” day of preparation my mom and I had once been thrilled about melted into a puddle at my feet. Filled with the choking back of tears and the correcting of smudged-off makeup, hairstylists and photographers shook their head in pity. The only reason I can be seen smiling in any photos at all that day is because I had momentarily convinced myself (and him) that we were getting back together. Thanks to this clever emotional manipulation, my fake lashes and glittery pink blush stayed perfectly intact that night… until my dreams of romance were shattered the next day by his “I’m so over it” response.

Years after prom, most people regret their bridal-style dresses, their bedazzled shoes, their hilarious but trendy-at-the-time makeup and hair choices. I don’t have those feelings: I still admire my combination of turquoise and baby pink, my glittery silver shoes, my oversize bow-topped cocktail dress, and my matching heart-shaped glasses. I looked different from every other girl at my prom, and I’m proud my undeveloped self had the guts to do that. The only regret I have is that I let some teenage boy dim my sparkle. // Alyssa Garrison

Pretty in Pink and Blue and Teal and Sparkles

I couldn’t find a full-length photo of the dress I wore to prom; only this cropped, cut-up one, which shows most of my torso. Believe me when I say this dress was extremely out of character for me—it was floor-length, as multicoloured as a dream coat, and covered in beads and sequins with a hot pink halter top. I favour black, white, neutrals, and minimal designs overall; I’m not sure what came over me when I bought it.

Actually, no, I know exactly what came over me. As a teenager, I was obsessed with what other people did and thought. I never saw a cool girl in the hallway without wanting to do or wear whatever she was doing or wearing, which led to some pretty horrible outfits. I wore lace-up Parasuco jeans, glittery pink babydoll tees, Uggs—if a “cool girl” wore it you could bet I used all my minimum-wage paycheque to buy it. You can imagine my disappointment when the cool girls showed up to prom wearing matching short, pastel-coloured dresses.

I think we all eventually settle into the style we’re meant to have. For me, my prom dress was not the last time I bought something because I thought it would help me blend in, and it definitely is not the worst example, but there’s something about it in particular that makes me pause. Looking at this photo reminded me of how long it took for me to figure out what I liked, what I looked best in, which dresses for important occasions would make me happy. Anyway, I know better than to plan on forgetting. To quote everyone’s favourite writer, Joan Didion, “I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends”—and I would add, demanding to know: who let them wear that dress outside the house. // Haley Mlotek

A night to remember, a night to forget

I’ve always loved proms. I had been planning mine, from my date (Landon, purple hair) to my dress (black and red, leather wristband), since I was 10. When I was in Grade 11, I decided I had waited long enough and hooked myself up with two tickets for myself and my beautiful best friend, Stas. I was a hippie in pastels those days, and my ensemble was a light pink sparkly dress and pastel green cardigan with fire engine-red hair. Stas came straight from his landscaping gig in a tan, a pair of bright blue pants, and a seventies vest, and we had an amazing time dancing the night away with our friends at what ended up being a dud of a prom. Still, I’m glad I went before senior year, because there was no pressure that this had to be a night to culminate our high school careers. We just enjoyed each other’s company and looked ridiculous.

My next prom was serious business. Because I was hung up on my body, I wore a flattering, pretty black dress and cool black headband, but when one of my best friends showed up wearing the poufy, yellow, vintage dress I wished I had worn, I immediately regretted my choice. Some of my other best friends got kicked out before even entering after being caught with alcohol, but the rest of us stayed to dance. The night was technically a success, though not particularly memorable. I had gotten my prom-mania out of my system the first time around. // Anna Cunningham

Wornlings that go to prom together, stay together

As are most things that Alexandra and I do in our lives, prom dress shopping was done together. I had a very simple plan—or so I thought—of finding the dress of my dreams online, going in-store, trying it on, and falling in love with it in person. But alas, trouble ensued when I spotted another dress. I decided that it was my prerogative to change my mind and switched one dress for another, only to immediately regret it. The trouble with buying one’s prom dress in March when prom isn’t until June is the plethora of gowns that can cause many a nervous breakdown and glittery perspiration in the meantime—kind of like a season of The Bachelorette (so I’ve heard). In the lead-up to prom, I ended up exchanging my dress a second time and going with my first pick. I know I ended up making the right choice. I think. // Stephanie Chunoo

I had a very distinct reference point for my prom look: Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (subway grate not included). I wanted a breezy halter dress that went just past my knees in a demure midnight blue. What I got instead was a long, fuchsia-coloured gown with lace cut-outs. Pretty much the diametric opposite of what I initially planned, to no surprise, thanks to Steph. She picked the dress out and knew that I had to try it on. Despite thinking that it looked like a doily my grandmother uses under her flowerpots, I reluctantly tried it on and fell in love. It was a pure Say Yes to the Dress moment minus the fussy mother-in-laws and “jacking up.” It has become one of my most treasured items of clothing, and as cliché as it is, I’m glad I listened to Steph. // Alexandra Chronopoulos

Diamond Dogs

For me, 2007 was the year of graduating high school, choosing universities, the year of figuring out what it is exactly you want to do with your life. But mostly it was the year of choosing that perfect prom outfit. Both my parents never went to their prom. Their crowd was a mixture of punks and hippies when they graduated, so they believed that prom was uncool and no fun. I, on the other hand, had been seduced by the prom experiences of the Gilmore Girls and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I just had to experience the dancing, the romance, and the dress.

Neither my prom dress nor my shoes were the most important item for me to feature. What I wanted was to have an amazing hat. Hats were my favorite piece of clothing in high school. I would wear bowler hats, fascinators, and occasionally even a teacup on my head. I knew that I needed to have the best hat imaginable, so I took inspiration from my favorite artist at the time, Jeff Koons. I had been in love with his balloon dog sculptures and wanted to recreate that on my head. I researched how to make a balloon dog, I followed all the steps, and voila. I was so pleased with myself for learning this trick.

I decided I wanted it to last well after prom was over so I covered it in paper maché. After it dried I bought cheap CDs from the dollar store and cut them into small squares. I glued them onto the paper maché dog, transforming it into a disco dog. After everything dried, I glued it to a headband, put on my pink dress, and to bring the whole outfit together I wrapped a string of faux pearls around a pair of safety scissors and wore them around my neck. The process of preparing for the prom felt like the most important part of the whole event, and I will always look back on it and smile because I had so much fun and have no regrets. // Eliza Trent-Rennick

Girls with the most cake

I wasn’t even sure that I was even going to go to my prom until about the month before. I was very much not into doing established high school events. But all of my friends were going, and I eventually gave in. I went to The Big City with my best friend and my step-mom, and we just trolled the mall for HOURS trying to find something that a) fit me and b) wasn’t terrifying. Everything was very floofy and pink and sequined… and not me at all. I wound up at this old lady store (name since forgotten) and found a slinky black gown on the sale shelf. It had black beading on the neckline and straps, and culminated in a mini train. I added jewelry the colour of blood, because rebel. It was also my first experience with foundation garments, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was definitely not the best-dressed person there, though—my friend Sarah made an entire gown out of duct tape, turned it red with permanent marker, and made a bag to match. She looked incredible.

In the end, the whole thing was pretty much not a big deal for me. I worked most of the day, then I think I got a haircut, and as you can see, I did not bother to get it styled or anything. I just went home and got dressed and then met my friends. It turned out that my level of effort was the exact right level of effort to put in, because the event itself was TERRIBLE. My friends and I cut out early, bought cake, and hung out down at the lake until like 4:00 a.m.—altogether a much better use of our time, and definitely a much better memory. // Megan Patterson

Geek to chic in one fell swoop

The dress I wore to my high school prom was uncharacteristically feminine. It was all layers of soft tulle and sweet ribbons, which transformed me from an awkward mathlete metalhead into a ballerina fairy princess. When I look back at the photos, it is painfully obvious to me that this dress did not fit, especially in the area where breasts are supposed to be. I had to secure the strapless bodice to my skin with double sided tape, which left nasty marks on my back. My fantastic mother ensured the dress was perfectly accessorized, but I didn’t think being perfectly accessorized was cool, so I smuggled a beat-up, vintage black purse out the door to replace the pink satin one she had bought me. I also brought to prom my nasty habit of never wearing shoes ever and carried my silvery-pink heels around for most of the night. // Brianne Burnell

Make way for Prince Ali

Prom was not a big deal for me. High school was something to survive and move past, not an era to commemorate. I broke up with the first guy I ever dated a month before, so I didn’t even get to invite him and make a gay rights stand against my school’s homophobic bullies.

If I had had the sartorial bravery I have now I would have worn something crazy, like a fuchsia Nehru jacket or something. (Who am I kidding? I would have difficulty wearing that now.) Instead, I rented a tux. Looking back, I’m jealous of my girlfriends who bought prom dresses—when you rent a garment, especially something as standard as a tuxedo, you feel an unavoidable distance towards it. At least I knew how to wear it. The friend I took to try it on pointed out many guys there that didn’t remember to tuck in the shirt.

The best part of prom was the getting ready. My friends and I got all into it, posing for pictures with our moms and singing along to the car radio as we picked people up. The actual event was a dull letdown. Nothing happened. The DJ played ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin. We stared blankly. We had played dress up, but our formal clothes couldn’t make the night significant. // Max Mosher

Cinderella’s mice need not apply

At the beginning of my final year of high school, my mom and I stumbled upon a clearance of shimmery, floor-length skirts at a bridal shop in the mall. After much debate between the many colours, I set my heart upon the wine coloured one and began my matching mission. I dedicated my lunch hour every Tuesday and Thursday (since every other one was spent in choir rehearsals) to sewing in the home ec room alone and managed to produce an entirely wine-coloured outfit consisting of an ankle-length, heavy wool coat, which I wore for only a split-second from the house to the limo, a velvet corset, and a matching clutch that I made by covering a small cardboard box with leftover fabric and beads. To top it all off, I got my sister to put Manic Panic “rose” coloured streaks in my hair and painted all of my nails the same colour. Looking back at the photos a decade later, I can still feel the uncomfortable prickle of the unruly strings of upholstery bead trim that I lined my corset top with. // Angela Leung

Queen for a day

During the time of my prom, I was at the height of my eating disorder. Less than 96 pounds of flesh hung on my 5’5 frame, and I was constantly starving. While many girls at my school had bought dresses a year ahead, I only went shopping with my mom the month before.

We went to a few stores in the mall. Nothing pleased me.

Then I saw it—the tan dress, so light it was almost made of air, a back wrapped in thin lace, with matching capped sleeves and some lace trim at the bottom. They didn’t have size zero, which was my default size by then (the goal, finally accomplished). So instead I climbed into a slightly baggy size two, which hung a little off my hips. At the time, the dress was perfect: it covered my chest, my hips. I wasn’t comfortable exposing too much skin, but I didn’t want a floor-length gown either. It was $400. My mother bought it, the size two which ate at me all the way home, and I wore it with nude heels the day of my prom. Perhaps I was a little too pale—I was coming from a day of work, so I hadn’t gotten my hair or makeup done—perhaps the dress blended in too much. But I felt good. For the first time in a while, I felt good.

I even ate that day. // Sofie Mikhaylova

Feel like your prom experience needs a makeover? Join us this Saturday at WORN’s very own Secondhand Prom and make some new memories!

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.

Très Click: Best of 2012 Edition

Haley Wornette picks a few of her favorite fashion articles from the past year

My job title is publisher, but sometimes I feel like it should be changed to lobbyist. I am really a lobbyist for the “fashion is important” agenda. The “fashion is feminist” agenda. I am staunchly pro-clothes.

I’m not going to pretend like I’m some sort of feminist hero because I believe that clothes deserve the same sort of recognition we give to other forms of creative expression—please, put your crown away, I could never take something so bejeweled—but I will share with you that I feel very, very strongly that fashion and clothing deserve way more respect in the general culture. I can talk about it for hours. Believe me, I do talk about it for hours.

Luckily for me, 2012 had some of the very best fashion writing I’ve ever seen. I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite pieces by some of the most intelligent fashion writers working today, people who share my conviction and lobbying tendencies.

Maybe a better term for my unofficial position would be fashion evangelist. Even with all the flaws, fashion and clothing are things that I believe in—I have faith that they matter. They matter in the ways we know (as ways to cover our bodies) and they matter in some pretty shitty ways (excess consumption, materialism, and greed) and then they matter in some really important ways (as evidence of our beliefs, our values, our choices, sartorial or otherwise). Here are just a few of my favorite articles from people who share my holy love of fashion. PREACH.

New York Fashion Week by the Numbers: More Models Of Color Are Working
by Jenna Sauers

In the fashion industry, I think hard data is especially important. It’s the best way to really, honestly see where the trends are—and the best way to identify where the problems are. It’s hard to deny that a designer has a problem with diversity when a chart exists that details exactly how white a runway show was.

Jenna has been tracking diversity on the runway since the Fall-Winter 2008 New York Fashion Week season, and the results are showing signs of improvement:

“This season proved to be the most racially diverse that we have ever counted. For the second time ever (and the second season in a row), white models actually comprised just less than 80% of the total model pool. Contrast that with the 87% of all runway spots that were give to white models in Fall-Winter 2008, when we began keeping track of models and race at NYFW.”

That said, this data can only accomplish so much. As Jenna pointed out in her 2010 roundup, “race is a social construct, not a fact,” and representations of beauty don’t fall into neat black or white categories.

The important thing is: “Fashion still has a long way to go before all forms of beauty are truly given equal consideration—but this season is another small step in the right direction.”

Passions Burn After Bangladesh Factory Fire
by Max Mosher

The tragedy in Bangladesh was much too familiar—as Max Wornette pointed out in his regular style column in the Toronto Standard, the devastating incident was reminiscent of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. In 1911, the horror was enough to create a union that fought to protect workers’ rights and higher safety standards; will the same happen in Tazreen?

Your Brain on Fashion
by Minh-Ha T. Pham

Suzy Menkes told AnOTher Magazine that: “I think there’s too much mixing fashion and intellect. Fashion ultimately is designed to cover the human body, to give you joy, to make you feel better. I don’t think it has to have a great intellectual meaning… to intellectualize fashion too much, to me, is just going the wrong way.” I respectfully disagree, and so does Minh-Ha T. Pham.

Pham cues up her “usual spiel,” as she puts it, to explain how “anti-intellectual discourses about fashion are so often covers for sexist assumptions about the meaninglessness of all things feminine and/or related to femininity.” I want her to say this again, and again, and then I want to shout it from a rooftop. A perfect summation of why fashion—and more importantly, why clothing—matters.

What The Fuck Is Nail Art?
by Rachel Seville

It’s no secret that I love my nail art. And I’m hardly an early adapter—I came to the trend late, after years of never painting my nails. I wrote about why I love nail art here (and here!), but I also love to point people to Rachel Seville’s handy guide for people who just want to know what the fuck is nail art?

Why Everyone Suddenly Cares About Nail Art
by Hillary Reinsberg

On Buzzfeed Shift, Hillary Reinsberg wonders about the origins of nail art—the trend of outlandish designs and 3D bedazzled elements has been popular in black communities for quite awhile, but now that the trend has gone mainstream (and now that the Times is ON IT), that seems to be a key fact that’s missing from all the coverage. There’s also a class element involved here—nail polishes are easy ways to allow people who can’t afford a hula hoop bag to participate in a brand. Reinsberg speaks with editors from Allure, New York Magazine, and Robin Givhans to get an alternative perspective on the trendiest trend of 2012.

Who Needs Halloween? Girl, 8, dresses as historic figures all year
by Jennifer Carlile

Ugh, ugh, my ovaries: an eight-year-old girl in Nebraska wears a different historical costume every day of the school year, drawing inspiration from the book “100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century.”

Reddit Users Attempt To Shame Sikh Woman, Get Righteously Schooled
by Lindy West

There has been a LOT of talk about the evils of the Internet this year (and in readings unrelated to fashion, I would highly recommend Adrian Chen’s article on Violentacrez and Patrick McGuire’s ongoing series on what really happened to Amanda Todd), but I do believe the Internet is just an extension of the real world. Sometimes, the real world is so sad and mean and horrible you just want to shut it down forever, but sometimes, someone who was publicly shamed for her facial hair on Reddit writes an eloquent explanation for why she is not ashamed and why her faith is more important to her than conventional ideas of beauty, and the person who did the shaming listens and responds with a real heartfelt apology, and as Lindy West says, on those days, our hearts grow three sizes.

What’s So Bad About A Boy Who Wants To Wear A Dress?
by Ruth Padawar

Seriously, though: what IS so bad about a boy who wants to wear a dress? Ruth Padawar interviews several families with children who identify as gender-fluid or gender-variant and looks into the history of people who challenged traditional gender norms. Padawar writes:

“The parents of boys in that middle space argue that gender is a spectrum rather than two opposing categories, neither of which any real man or woman precisely fits…. It might make your world more tidy to have two neat and separate gender possibilities,” one North Carolina mother wrote last year on her blog, “but when you squish out the space between, you do not accurately represent lived reality. More than that, you’re trying to ‘squish out’ my kid.”’

Boy With Down Syndrome Becoming An Unlikely Ad Star
by Tim Nudd

Early in 2012, Ryan, a child model with Down Syndrome, was featured in catalogs by Target and Nordstrom, featured exactly where he should be: modeling clothes right beside his neurotypical peers. As the father of another child with Down syndrome and the author of the blog Noah’s Dad says: “This wasn’t a ‘Special Clothing For Special People’ catalog,” he writes. “There wasn’t a call out somewhere on the page proudly proclaiming that ‘Target’s proud to feature a model with Down syndrome in this week’s ad!’…. In other words, they didn’t make a big deal out of it. I like that.” To read more on clothes, fashion, and Down Syndrome, read our interview with the owner of Downs’ Designs.

What Fashion’s “Ethnic” Prints Are Really Called
by Connie Wang

“Ethnic” and “tribal” prints are high up on the list of useless, nonsensical, and offensively bad, yet ubiquitous, fashion copy. Connie Wang of Refinery29 correctly points out that “Lumping all similar prints into one group or referring to them by a descriptor rather than their real names is just as silly as calling jeans “blue pants,” and helpfully provides a comprehensive vocabulary lesson so that we can all learn the difference between ikat and batik prints. Slate also detailed the history and the contemporary problems facing manufacturers today here.

Authenticity at Jane and Finch: African Dutch Wax Fabrics
by Adwoa Afful

On the Ethnic Aisle, Adwoa Afful explains how learning about Dutch Wax prints became part of learning about her family, herself as a Ghanian-Canadian, and how “Dutch wax prints have come to represent one way West Africans express themselves sartorially.”

Girl Talk
by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

One of my favorite blog discoveries of 2012 was The Beheld, a collection of thoughtful essays on beauty and all that it can mean. The articles are also cross-posted on The New Inquiry (another favourite). I loved and related to her honest admission in Girl Talk: sometimes, she feels awkward around women, and she uses compliments on their shoes or their hair or some element of their appearance as a way to fight that awkwardness. I know I definitely use this as a way to superficially connect with new friends, and I’ve been the recipient of it as well. I think Autumn is exactly right when she says that “something frivolous can come out of my mouth and I’m fairly certain it doesn’t make me seem frivolous. It simply lightens me, desirably so.”

Cindy Sherman’s Superstar Strategy
by Sarah Nicole Prickett

SNP writes about the retrospectives for Francesca Woodman at the Guggenheim and Cindy Sherman at the Met: “And so Sherman has survived where Woodman did not: In assuming the whole lot of female and feminine (and sometimes masculine) identity, she’s given away precious little of herself. Her work is fashion. It is facade. It’s defence.” Every word of this article is perfect and beautiful: read it for yourself and see.

Is there an article about fashion from 2012 that you’d like to share? Tweet it at @wornjournal and use the #clothesmatter tag, or leave it in the comments.