Men in Dresses, Dry Cleaning Mysteries, and Packing like it’s 1889

Karen Wornette makes some fascinating discoveries on the web

Hats off (but dresses on) to our Kurdish Feminist Brothers
By Dilar Dirik
The photographs capture the Brothers-in-dresses face on, shoulders back, and confident in their stance. In a regime that punishes a man who commits an act of domestic violence by sentencing him to walk the city streets in traditional Kurdish women’s robes, the Feminist Brothers stand in solidarity with the women of their culture, saying, “This is what we look like.” Harnessing the power of social media to spread this message by posting the photos on Facebook, the Kurds ensure the clothes speak of courage to a global audience.

Orthodox Jewish Women Find New Ways to Be Fashionable in Crown Heights
By Liana Satenstein
The Torah’s modesty guidelines are no match for the stylish, independent, and innovatively entrepreneurial women in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish sect Chabad-Lubavitch. Requirements to wear skirts that hit below the knee and blouses that cover the elbows and collarbones just means that the women face more of a creative challenge than others when they choose what to wear each day.

A Strip of Cloth that Makes Dry Cleaners Shudder
By Vijai Singh
One of my favourite summer jobs was working for the Textile Analysis Service at the University of Alberta, where I would perform detective work on garments that were damaged at the dry cleaners. Like a whodunit mystery, I tried to figure out who (the customer, the cleaner, or the manufacturer) ruined the garment (discolouration, tiny holes, loss of beads), and with which weapon (pretreating agent, solvent, or sunlight)—but not in which room, because, well, that doesn’t really matter in this case. I won’t tell you what strip of cloth makes these dry cleaners shudder; you’ll have to click to find out.

How to Pack like a Pioneering Journalist
By Maria Popova
Nellie Bly, the audacious journalist who, in 1889, challenged the fictional precedent set in Jules Verne’s classic novel Eighty Days Around the World by circumnavigating the globe in five fewer days, carried only a small leather gripsack with all of her personal items for the journey. This remarkable story puts to shame my packing job for my 60-day stay here in Toronto—and I had the luxury of one large suitcase and a couple of carry-ons. If you’re heading off on a summer vacation, keep Ms. Bly in mind as you repeat the mantra “less is more….”

Are Clothes Modern? Or, what we talk about when we talk about “Dress”
The Blog of A.E. Funk
I’m in awe of A.E. Funk, the veritable curator that she is, and her keen eye for evocative references to dress in all sorts of texts, from books on writing to the credits of Paris is Burning. For an assignment in a course on the history of dress, I scoured Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility for references to clothing, textiles, and accessories so that I could attempt to make an assessment of the historical accuracy of the costumes in Ang Lee’s film adaptation. I was also graded on the number of quotes I came up with, and I fell far short of the student in the class who’d earmarked the most. If Funk were in that class, I have a feeling she would have set a formidable standard.

text // Karen Fraser

A Wornette in Paris

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I traveled to Europe for my first time this summer, specifically France and Amsterdam. Paris! The French Riviera! How should I pack?!!? Glamorous? Chic? Comfortable? I kept my wardrobe to a backpacking minimum: Birkenstocks, skirts and tee-shirts, but quickly discovered that most other tourists were not as practical-minded as I was.

I saw the above couple across the bustling Leidseplein in Amsterdam. This exceptional woman didn’t speak English so she couldn’t possibly have understood what I was going to do with her picture, but she couldn’t have been happier I asked to take it. These two were so special that as I took their photo two other people came up and asked to do the same. She wouldn’t let me leave until I took a picture with them. She sent me off with a kiss on each cheek.

I met this girl in Old Town in Nice. It was close to 40 degrees out and most people were slinking off the beach in their bathing suits. I loved that the heat didn’t deter her from dressing up. If I had been wearing her outfit on such a hot day all I would be able to think about would be sweat stains. I suppose the peek-a-boo back could be built-in air conditioning.

The lovely lady on the left works at Colette, a concept-store in Paris. The top floor of this two-story mecca does away with the usual retail clothing displays, and instead displays their impossibly beautiful and impossibly expensive goods on mannequins styled like art installations through the store. I assume that you have to ask for your size but with price tags in the hundreds and thousands of euros I wasn’t going to find out. I met the girl on the right in Amsterdam. Her cat eyes and funky outfit stood out among a sea of cotton tee-shirts, blue jeans and comfortable walking shoes.
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