Our high school intern Tabitha Wornette puts together a back to school photo essay
Styling // Tabitha Poeze
Photography // Stephanie Chunoo
Middle school marked the beginning of an era of independence. I shed my elementary school uniform instantly, ready to finally wear pants instead of kilts, necklaces rather than neckties. But suddenly it felt like everything, from the bow on my head to the socks on my feet, earned side-eye from my well-intentioned friends. I felt my newfound sartorial freedom crumbling away. My reality was a world where it wasn’t okay to wear golden necklaces with horses dangling from them, and to mix brown, black, and navy all in the same outfit. But I just kept thinking—well, why not?
Now halfway through my undergrad, I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of this fashion thing. While the rest of my life seems overly complicated, I’ve managed to boil dressing myself down to one simple rule: the way I dress should reflect who I am on the inside, resplendent with all my personality’s multi-faceted colours, shades, and chunky jewelry.
And after finally thinning my list of eight possible subjects to study in university down to three, I’ve picked the seemingly unrelated Aboriginal Studies, English, and History. What I love about all three is that they overlap and complement each other perfectly, like pieces in a big puzzle. And that is where fashion comes in. For me, fashion represents the intersection of all that I love—history, literature, and culture. Ultimately, fashion is a medium where the politics, history, and vibrancy of the world are displayed, a true blank canvas.
This is exactly what WORN represents to me—a cheeky publication intent on seeking the quirky and unconventional aspects of fashion, embodying the real people out on the streets who are celebrating style every day.
One Big Photo
Over the past year, I’ve been overcome by a serious case of wanderlust. While I’m saving up my pennies to travel the world, this site gives me my daily fix of some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
The Art Journaler
This website is a forum for creative minds from all over to share their personal discoveries through “art journaling.” Art journaling is about taking a theme, or idea, and peeling back layers of yourself through art, to discover or come to terms with the secrets you’ve been hiding. I love browsing through the journeys different people are on and get very excited when a phrase or picture resonates with me.
The Bohemian Collective
Lately, I’ve been finding my greatest inspiration through nature, and artisans with an earthy vibe have been my obsession. This site features a collection of designers who specialize in all that is folksy and handmade, putting together a wonderful lookbook every couple of months incorporating all of their jewelry and clothes. Only using natural materials like bones, feathers, and stones, their work never fails to remind me that sustainable can still be beautiful.
Indian Formal Wear
I just came back from attending three weddings in India, and now I can’t get my mind off of some of the stunning clothes I saw! Having brought back a ton of dresses, I can’t wait to see how I can put different outfits together to wear here.
What inspired this outfit?
It’s all quite practical, really. I’d been trying to stretch the wardrobe that I brought to Toronto, so I took my single white shirt and paired it with the tie from another. I tried to remember how to tie a tie properly, but couldn’t (when I’ve worn one before, my dad has been there to help me along, his hands working the strip of fabric into the familiar half-Windsor knot), so I pretended and ended up with the shorter strip hanging in front.
Tell me about one of the items you are wearing.
If you look very closely at the tie, you’ll notice it has a cat pattern. It’s one of those things that tricks the eye—for the first few months that I wore the shirt, I didn’t notice the felines. After my discovery, I started seeing patterns all over the place. I had New Year’s dinner with a family friend in Vancouver one year, and, to my delight, she wore a button-down printed with birds. We said “cheers” over new beginnings and creature print clothing.
What is the best book to read in this outfit?
I’ve been staying at Jenna Wornette’s apartment, and she’s got a killer book collection in her room. Every time I glance up, I find a new title that I want to flip through. At the moment, I’ve been reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and Angry Women, a collection of essays written by 16 pioneering female performance artists.
What style icon would wear this outfit?
Greta Garbo, with her classic ’30s sportswear.
outfit credits // Blouse by Diane von Furstenberg, shorts by CiCi, from Two of Hearts Boutique in Vancouver, tie from the Junque Cellar in Edmonton, shoes by Zeha Berlin, sunglasses from Alex Wornette, and earrings from my mom.
photography // Stephanie Chunoo and Alex Chronopoulos
I’ve spent the past four years of my life immersed in the Human Ecology degree program at the University of Alberta. As a Clothing, Textiles, and Material Culture major, I’ve taken courses that consider the cultural, economic, social, and personal contexts that impact the ways in which we adorn our bodies and present ourselves to the world. When I discovered that WORN publishes creative, intelligent content about fashion’s many facets, I decided to move to Toronto for a couple months to complete my practicum… and become a wornette!
My relationship with clothing tends toward the historical, yet remains grounded in what’s practical. When I do have time to sew (I wish I could find more), I get on my mom’s sewing machine from the ’80s and stitch together vintage-inspired projects. Mostly, though, I mend the garments that I’ve worn through. My mom’s cousin gave me a floral dress that she wore to parties in the ’70s, and that I would wear on my first day of grade 12. I tore the armhole seams as I kept the dress in heavy rotation, and I ended up sewing and re-sewing the same curved lines. The thread unraveled and the fabric tore away, but that’s what happens to clothing when it’s worn—it’s not so terrible.
Working at WORN will bring me closer to the personal histories of dress that I so dearly enjoy. Through reading (WORN has a stunning collection of books on dress and culture/subculture), interviewing a few local artists and designers, and writing about “clothes” encounters, I’ll be able to further explore our dressed selves in context. To get my daily inspiration of personal interpretations on fashion, I’ll need to look no further than the decidedly individual wornettes.
Are Clothes Modern? Or, What We Talk About When We Talk About “Dress”
Swedish costume historian A. E. Funk documents what she’s been reading in books and around the net in a Tumblr-like format, only she appears to find her captions first and then adds the eye-catching images.
If you don’t have time to read all those books on your list, click over here for a well-curated selection of quotes from interesting authors and cultural icons on writing, reading, and the creative life, among other things.
Obakki’s Treana Peake speaks at Vancouver’s Creative Mornings
A designer with a conscience, Peake is refreshingly open about her internal struggle over her work in an industry that requires human hands to create the garments, but rarely pays attention to documenting their stories.
I recently re-discovered this Toronto-based master of the quirky interview. After watching him on MuchMusic growing up, I’ve enjoyed keeping up with him as he researches like mad and then surprises musical artists of all genres with his obscure questions and gifts.
An absolute must when doing fashion photographic research, this collection of Vogue from 1892 to the present has some real gems, including Anjelica Huston shot by Richard Avedon for a 1969 issue.
photography // Stephanie Chunoo and Tabitha Poeze