We Have Decided to Throw YOU a Party Because You Are a Cat

party

If there is one thing WORN knows how to do it’s, well, make a great fashion magazine. But if there’s another thing we know how to do, it’s without a doubt throw a killer party. And let’s say there’s this third thing we know how to do, and it’s love cats.

In anticipation of your unique desire to see those three things combined, we made this black cat-themed party to celebrate the release of our 17th issue JUST FOR YOU.

Please come to your party. Please feel encouraged to wear your best black and white to your party. Please bring your friends to your party. Oh, the memories you will make!

See you tomorrow, Saturday, November 23, at Dovercourt House (805 Dovercourt Road) at 9:00 p.m. $10 pre-sale tickets are only available until Friday, November 22, 2013 at 5pm, and at Type Books on Queen Street West until 7pm on Saturday November 23rd, so don’t purrcrastinate. Admission at the door is $15 and comes with the newest issue of the magazine. Once inside you may drink, dance, and participate in a wonderful midnight raffle. Okay?

The Dress that Changed Nothing Whatsoever

Nicole Wornette was insecure at 12, for all the years that followed, and also bought a vintage dress

WORNfashionjournalnicoleelsasser

There are some who believe formative self-loathing is instrumental to becoming a cool adult. This particular lemonade is made over and over again by those attempting to ascribe meaning to what they fear would otherwise be seen as self-indulgent ennui, and who are comforted by fellow-sufferers able to tell their lives like a self-worth rags-to-riches story. Happiness is without substance; misery makes art. I started from the bottom, now I’m here. But of course, here comes much later. First you have to dislike yourself.

And this was, for a long time, my personal gospel.

In my story, I made all the right moves. I hated myself. I was skilled in the art of turning absolutely anything into evidence of my failings. At 12 especially, I was deeply invested in changing the person that I was to be a different, better person. At this age, a girl is still new to self-loathing, so of course, she makes mistakes. I fell prey to the idea something like a haircut, a pair of shoes, or a new school year would alter my situation so dramatically I would find myself cured. So it was when the time came for my oldest cousin to get married. That was when my mother took me shopping for my first vintage dress.

Despite my initial objections to wearing used clothes, once in the shop, I was instantly able to appreciate how much more cinematic these dresses were than any I had seen at the mall. I have always had a soft spot for dresses that reach the floor and never apologize for how they get there. A tangle of chiffon, silk, and sequins, these were the garments of which stories were made.

Though I had resolved not to leave this shop with an old dress, I was delighted to be in that room. While my mother went over the preliminaries with the shopkeeper, I traced my hand along the racks, remembering something half-lost about what I’d wanted before all I wanted was to be somebody better than myself. Just as I was getting close to some fuzzy truth, my mother came up from behind me.

“Okay,” she sighed. “Let’s go to the mall.”

Um, what?

Despite my mother’s whimsical intentions, I was still a child and these dresses were all woman-sized. Stunned, we moved towards the shop door, until the shopkeeper’s memory jogged. “Well, it’s hardly appropriate for a wedding, being cream and all, but that one will fit her,” she said, pointing to a short dress hanging from a hook high up on the wall.

The dress wasn’t something you gasp at—it was just exactly right. Like it was already yours and you recognized it out in a crowd and thought, “What are you doing here? Let’s go home, you silly goose!” I’ve experienced this comfortable confirmation many times since: on finding the right apartment, the right university, jobs, friends, men, and of course, clothes. We never discussed the fact it was cream, since a gawky twelve year old is at virtually no risk of outshining a bride. Obviously, we bought the dress.

This was, indeed, the first time I’d been vintage shopping, the first time I’d recognized myself in a dress, and the first time I remember expecting something I bought to change me in some dramatic way. In the lead up to the wedding, I would take the dress out of my closet and stare at it thinking, “Now that I have this, the hard part’s over.”

When the day of the wedding arrived, I dressed simply. And while I wasn’t certain I enjoyed a day-long event where adults I had never met made inscrutable jokes into a microphone, my girl cousins slow-danced with each other to be all like, “We don’t need no men!” and I got far less attention than I was accustomed to, I was sure of the dress. In it, I was a changed woman.

I was sure of this right up until my mother got her film developed at the local one-hour photo and I saw the picture.

No person was ever more ungracefully 12 as I found myself in that picture. It was the most jarring thing, having my worst suspicions about myself confirmed. The girl in the photo wasn’t changed for the better. She was a ragamuffin with thick eyebrows and a body that seemed to be introducing itself to her at every moment. And god, that girl was so serious. Her self-doubt and torturous sensitivity registered plainly on her face. I was repulsed.

My only recourse was to bury the dress in the back of my closet, forget it ever happened and try harder. During the years that followed, I employed all manner of tactics to solve the problem of me once and for all. I really believed I could will myself into flawlessness. After that, I imagined life would be just a lot of eating in hip family-style restaurants and people photographing you mid-laugh but it’s, like, always really beautiful.

Instead of achieving this clumsy approximation of perfection, I got something else entirely when, at 24, my mother and I were unpacking boxes and arranging my possessions in a west-end basement studio, the first place I’d ever live alone. Buried in one of the many boxes was a packet of photos. Among them, of course, was the photo, which I have no memory of ever taking from my mother’s albums. And with so many years separating the girl in the photo from the girl holding it, perspective was easier to find.

Before, whenever I discussed who I had been, it was always with a tone of mild alienation. Not only was the present day version of myself the best one but, rather, the only one. Who I had been was inconsequential, irrelevant, and lampooned in my most defensive jokes. As a militant self-improver, it is difficult to resist this temptation.

But there was something exquisite in the deflating realization that despite all the effort and dramatic change, so much stayed exactly the same. I am still a self-conscious, serious girl. My eyebrows still feature prominently on my face. And goddammit, will I ever feel graceful in this body?

Naturally, I had grown into myself. A decade plus of time, experience, and extensive introspection will do that. But more significant was that, standing in my new apartment, holding the once-repulsive photo, not only was I able to recognize myself in it but also to appreciate its beauty. It was a lovely, vulnerable moment captured on film. Just a very young girl in a very special dress.

“Mom, whatever happened to that dress?” I asked, my eyes still fixed on the photo.

She thought for a moment and said, “I have no idea, Nic. Honestly, it probably got thrown out.”

It was a shame. That dress had been coded with so much adolescent disappointment, and now, with a little clarity, it would have been nice to wear it like a nice dress deserves to be worn.

That night I got an email from my dear sweet mother with the subject line, “LOOK WHAT I FOUND!!!!” The email body contained only an attached photo of the dress, a little rumpled and desperately in need of a dry cleaner’s love, but unmistakably my special cream dress.

I was in her house for perhaps only five minutes before excusing myself and slipping down the hall to what used to be my bedroom and now is the extended territory of an ageing cocker spaniel. Quickly I stripped down and pulled on the dress. It fit. The dress and I had been given our second act by whoever it was that decided that I should never develop breasts.

I no longer allow myself the delusion of a self-worth promised land. The top is a lie, though, so too is the bottom. My new thing, these days, is conscious continuity. With this, it is important to acknowledge the small victories, and doing right by my first vintage dress is certainly one.

What are you doing here? Let’s go home, you silly goose.

My Ex-Boyfriend is my Style Icon

Nicole Wornette is unapologetically attracted to sartorialists

When I tell people the story of Royal and me, they are usually a little dumbfounded.

“But you’re a smart girl,” they say, incredulous, “How could you put up with that?”

And because this troubles their understanding of how a woman who reads an excess of feminist books conducts herself, they really do want an answer. To put them at ease I say this or that about how I needed a heartbreak in order to grow, about how his aggression appealed to me because I am a “strong woman” and therefore presumably a masochist, or just (hello?) daddy issues. And when I tell them these things they nod appreciatively because it all checks out with their picture of why women like me exhibit poor judgment.

And, of course, it’s all bullshit. What they could never understand and therefore wouldn’t want to hear is that, despite my intelligence and gender/sex reading list, I dated Royal because I love style and he had it more than any person I’d met.

In short, my ex-boyfriend was my style icon.

This statement makes people uncomfortable. It speaks to a kind of sickness; a capacity for high shallowness and hero worship. Perhaps some essential comfort is lost when forced to acknowledge a person who would accept a world of heartache simply because the dealer of it had mastered an effortless eclecticism in their dress?

The first time Royal and I slept together, I felt the loneliness of sex with a selfish man that would become very familiar. This memory was, however, almost totally eclipsed by the sheer joy I experienced in watching him get dressed the next morning. He pulled wide the doors on his closet and moved almost acrobatically through its racks. He talked as he did this, about raw Japanese denim, about rough African cloth, about how every pair of pants involves a collaboration between Royal and his long-time tailor (together they’ve mastered the perfect taper), about pieces that came from family, and pieces that came from some church thrift store in some nowhere town. It seemed to me that everything in his closet was alive; each item reverberating with memories and people and care.

Royal’s style was effective synthesis; all classic pieces and proportions made his own with others from his travels and diverse family history. Often he’d build his outfits from his references; usually from cinema. I loved coming out of my house and spotting him across the street, leaning on the chain link fence, and guessing as I walked towards him, which great film was providing the inspiration for today’s outfit. I had never known someone to play unabashed adult dress-up and pull it off so completely. He was always proud of how he looked; always willing to share a story about how it came together, and I found myself embarrassed by how interested I was in this. I would actually be disappointed when the talk moved on from what he was wearing or had recently acquired to other more substantial subjects.

There remain certain unsoured, almost incandescent moments from my time with Royal, each with a corresponding mental snapshot of an outfit. I have difficulty distinguishing whether these memories are significant because of the clothes they feature or if it’s the other way around. There’s the custom suit he was wearing when we drank all the Hennessy left over from a funeral, my disbelief when he wore a porkpie hat inside a restaurant coupled with my disbelief that it actually looked good, the blue cashmere sweater that made him difficult to argue with because it looked so damn reasonable, every day a different, neatly ironed pocket square. And then there’s the one I return to most:

Facing Lake Ontario, I hear him call my name. When I turn, I see that he’s dressed simply, not unlike anybody else. But close up I catch a glimpse of a small American flag that he’s tied tightly around his wrist and almost completely concealed with the sleeve of his denim jacket. He doesn’t need anybody else to see it.

When I think of this particular memory, I remember that coming to meet me was the first time he’d left his house that day. I was the only person he’d see at all. And we were just going for a walk on an empty beach. He could never dress simply; just like anyone else. I like to imagine he’d almost left the house but went back for the flag, tied it around his wrist and felt assured by it.

You see, I wanted to dress like Royal. But what quickly became clear is that he wanted me to dress like something else.

The first time Royal and I sat across from one another and had drinks, I was wearing a pair of mens boxer shorts, pink with hounds on them, with an oversized grey jersey tank top and a black blazer, the sleeves rolled to the elbows. The outfit had been conceived in a flash because it was hot and I didn’t expect to be having romantic drinks that night. Having said that, it was also probably my favourite of any outfit I wore that summer. But of course, I apologized for it all through drinks and never wore it again because he had accepted my apology like it had been necessary.

His ideas about how women should look and dress were as specific as those he had for himself. He favoured—insisted on, actually—a visual display of perfect femininity. In his mind, women belonged in form-fitting dresses and high heeled shoes. Their hair should be smooth, fall long and they should smell like flowers. That’s it. That’s all. He wasn’t interested in a woman’s style exhibiting as much thought or complexity as his own. The outfits I was celebrated for were few and far between and always, to my mind, boring.

Still, like many women, I possess a kind of genius for anticipating and accommodating the desires of particular men. I dressed, in those first months, with Royal in mind. Running things by an imaginary him and silently apologizing for my missteps even before I was standing in front of him. At that time my “missteps” could all be blamed on the fact that I was poor. I wore the wrong shoes because I didn’t have the right ones. Dressing for Royal became a bit like Tetris: what could I put together that he would like me in, that I would like me in, that I had, that was clean, that he hadn’t already seen or banished.

One night in a restaurant, close to the end of us, he told me that the way I looked that night deserved to be smooched. I looked down at myself in a tight black dress. That night I had straightened my wild hair into something far easier to digest. I thought for the first time that I didn’t want to earn my smooches and certainly not this way. Boring was too high a price. I sighed and thought of the time he’d yelled at me in a Chinese restaurant to throw away a vintage wool bolero that I was mad about. That he’d stopped speaking to me once when his eyes had landed on my filthy white Chucks, worn sockless. That he’d taken to saying, “Get your life together, baby,” nearly every time I was satisfied with what I was doing, style-wise.

I glanced down at his hands folded on the table. I had always particularly liked his hands, or rather, the way he decorated them. To me they seemed a pleasing Royal’s style vignette. Surrounding an antique gold watch with a brown leather strap (his mother’s) were several very different bracelets and on his left hand, he wore two rings. The simple silver ring on his pinkie had been mine. He’d taken it and was so insistent that he should be allowed to keep it. I’d co-opted a green pashmina he’d bought in Africa and pronounced us square. Later, he revealed that every last piece of jewelry he wore was from a woman he’d loved and I suddenly felt trophy-like. My silver ring, the style equivalent to a head stuffed and mounted on a wall. Though still, some sick part of me was pleased to have contributed to his impressive eclecticism.

I looked up from his hands to the face that had just pronounced me deserving of smooches, and decided I was very tired. I could finally do without the mornings of watching him get dressed. I had added quite enough to my memory bank of Royal looks. That with his green scarf and the months of his example, we were in fact utterly square.

I have now passed more months out of that relationship than I’d spent in it. I have found new style icons. The world vibrates with them and the variety makes it all so democratic. I saw Royal for the first time in months a week ago on Queen Street. It had been brief because one of my friends wanted to hit him or one of his friends for one of the usual reasons. I had jumped in without a thought about what I was wearing (tight polyester black slip, madras wrap shirt, oversized trench coat, brown leather sandals and backpack), put an end to the stand off and pushed my friend on his way. As I followed, I glanced back at Royal and he smiled, saying, “You look good, baby.”

I laugh when I think about this. I am laughing for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that I was then (and god, maybe always will be) a little flattered.

photography // Martina Bellisario

Nicole Wornette

Our new editorial intern traces her style history over a decade of shopping lists

As a child I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, Scarlett O’Hara, and JonBenet Ramsey. All I wanted to be when I grew up was one of these uncomfortable glamorous feminine figures. It’s no surprise that, instead, I grew up weird and with a dark sense of humour, fashion obsessed, and ultimately a writer.

My lifelong fashion love has been well documented in shopping lists I’ve made compulsively since the age of nine. I still write them regularly, and to this day they are the only reliable way I’ve found to quiet my mind at its most anxious. Looking over them, though, I watch my personal style evolve. The first two years feature exclusively clothing I saw my friends wear first. This inclination to blend in repeats again at the beginning of high school and university but dissipates shortly thereafter. When Legally Blonde comes out, everything is pink, and blue contact lenses have three exclamation points after them. There’s the full calendar year that I don’t bother listing stores because absolutely everything is from American Eagle. The appearance of a “Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirt on a list from 2005 marks the first of many rebellions against my Born Again Christian teenhood. On my most recent list, nearly all the clothes are black (my style has been described as “plucky widow”), the only thing crossed off is a Detroit Tigers baseball cap, and beauty products outnumber clothing three to one.

I aspire to be a damn great writer and a bona-fide New Yorker.

CURRENT INSPIRATION

Into The Gloss
I check this blog every day, several times a day. I love the aesthetic, the fresh approach to the topic of beauty, and I have a major girl/professional/style crush on its founder, Emily Weiss.

Tales of Endearment
This is the vintage-focused and very pretty blog of Natalie Joo. She takes photos of herself and sundry other amazing familiar girls in their best vintage looks. The styling and images are just too inspiring.

Une Fille Comme Les Autres (Jalouse Magazine)
I really like any place where fashion and comedy intersect gracefully. This video is one of my favourite examples. Also, I’ve written “be like Jalouse video girl” in my journal more times than I would care to admit, so….

The Tumblr of Sarah Nicole Prickett
I honestly hesitated before listing this, because this girl’s a fellow wornette and, is that weird? Regardless, I really like Sarah Nicole Prickett’s writing; have for years. And now that she’s writing from New York (my big city crush), I can’t get enough.

Bestie by Bestie
I am obsessed with Gabe Liedman and Jenny Slate. Their chemistry is the stuff that dreams are made of. I could listen to them talk for the rest of my days, I think.

photography // Martina Bellisario