Category Archives: Cultural Garments

Fashion Post Quarantine

By Dale Peers
Fashion is a reflection of zeitgeist and our current zeitgeist has undergone a paradigm shift. This pandemic has impacted lives globally and it continues to do so as we begin the process of emerging from quarantine.
We have seen after each major political, social, economic event in the past century a shift, an alteration, an influence on design and fashion. What will the impact of Covid 19 be on fashion?
Here are a few thoughts:

Comfort conformity

After weeks of “dressing” in our most comfortable of clothes will we be able to give up the softness of sweats, the cosiness of pjs, the luxury of shoelessness? “Athleisure” has been a fashion trend for the past few years and as we have found in video conferencing the need to dress up for work might have been reserved for the news/reporters we saw broadcasting from their home offices. But, were they secretly wearing the most comfortable “pants” they owned and which we would never see (unless they inadvertently forgot to close their video screen and got up from their desk!)?
Will comfort be acceptable in the new work world? 30 days is supposedly the length of time it takes for us to fully embrace a new habit. After nearly twice that time we are likely fully entrenched in a wardrobe that was previously reserved for Sunday mornings. Although we may want to get back to our place of work will we be able to remember how to dress according to a business code?

Full Frontal Formality
Or, have we had enough of schlepping around the house in those clothes. Are we so done with them that when firepit bands are lifted we will happily burn them?!
Will we want to look good and feel professional when this is over? Looking the part is advice that has long been given to the person who is being interviewed or the professional looking to climb a corporate ladder.
While “Casual Fridays” were a non-monetary perk for office workers when economic downturns occurred the practice of dressing down began to be questioned when people wondered whether true professionals, especially those working in financial institutions and legal arenas would be perceived as capable if they dressed so casually. And so, the upswing back to sartorial elegance began when those in upper management positions began again to dress more appropriately.
We have all watched the impact the pandemic has had on the economy. People may again consider whether there is a relationship between their financial advisor’s ability and her appearance. How casually dressed do you want your banking professional to be?
Our prime minister and premier show up for those daily reports in shirts, ties and suits. Their appearance says just how serious these days have been. They tell us not only in words that are to engender confidence but, in their appearance as well. They are serious about what we all need to do and look it.

Facial Masks and Makeup
We have already seen the necessity of wearing masks. These face coverings will become a new and necessary accessory and I have to wonder what that will mean to the beauty industry. The “lipstick” theory was one that explained the importance of this product on moral. It was deemed to have such an incredible impact that metal lipstick tubes were one of the few metal items that were exempt from rationing in the second world war.
Lips are now hidden behind masks and while these will become a new niche in the fashion accessory market they are not conducive to the wearing of lipstick. But, will eyes now become more than just windows to the soul? Will the beauty market place even more attention on eye shadow, liner, lashes and brows?

Proudly Patriotic
If there is one element of this pandemic that I hope will be fostered and strengthened by governments and consumers alike it is Made in Canada. Many politicians have praised our home grown entrepreneurs, designers, and manufacturers for stepping up, changing their production lines and creating the PPEs and hand sanitizer so desperately needed by our front line workers.
Clearly it is possible to design and manufacture in Canada. While we don’t need to become completely xenophobic the time has come when we need to respect the ingenuity of our people and the quality of the products that we can produce. There will be many people needing employment. There will be many opportunities to produce what we need and as patriots and consumers we can support these companies and our country.

Stay well and stay safe!

Be-gone Blizzards


Dress from Seneca Fashion Resource Centre

Be-gone Blizzardy weather! Let’s bring on the Beach! The current display in our Fashion Resource Centre window at the Newnham Campus of Seneca College was inspired by the coldest February on record.

The thing about Canadian weather is that a) it is a frequent topic of conversation b) it changes rapidly and c) no one can really predict what we are in for – not even Wiarton Willy!

However, the respite of a winter vacation is one thing that Canadians do look forward to and, as a result we chose to present His and Her Hawaiian attire and bathing suits.  If nothing else this colourful window is sure to help alleviate some of the winter blues brought on by sun deprivation.

Hawaiian shirts from Seneca Fashion Resource Centre

Hawaiian shirts from Seneca Fashion Resource Centre

The colourful Hawaiian or Aloha shirt is an easily recognized fashion icon.  Whether it is recognizable for its colourful patterns or the equally colourful personalities who choose to wear it is up to the observer. The history of these fashions can be traced back to missionaries who looked to cover the nakedness of island inhabitants.  As the plantation economy of Hawaii began to emerge in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, workers needed a shirt that could weather the physical efforts of sugar, coffee and pineapple farming.


Image from East Coast Radio,

Ellery Chun is credited with creating the popularity of the Aloha Shirt.  With a degree in economics from Yale University, Mr. Chun returned to Hawaii in 1931 to take over his father’s dry goods store.  The establishment had catered primarily to the local Asian Community but Mr. Chun wanted to expand the scope of his retail enterprise.  He and his sister began selling bright, print short sleeve shirts made of leftover material from Japanese kimonos. (Lisa (da Beanteacher))

When Hawaii became a state in 1959, tourists came and the distinctive shirts became popular souvenirs. However due to the warm climate they are considered by the locals to be the equivalent of a suit and appropriate for business wear.  While we may have Casual Fridays the people of Hawaii have Aloha Fridays.


Images from Karmakula, and Ragstock,


Image from Vintage Aloha Shirts,

While tourists may prefer brightly coloured versions with “hula girls”, pineapples and surfboards, native Hawaiians prefer more subtle patterns.  “Reverse print” shirts have the pattern printed on the inside which creates a more muted effect.  Status can also be perceived in Aloha shirts with border prints.  More fabric must be used in the creation of a border print which makes the shirt more expensive.

hawaiian shirt

Image from Maui Shirts,

The construction of an Aloha shirt is deceptively simple.  It has a left chest pocket sewn in and a good quality shirt must have a pattern that is uninterrupted by that pocket.  The lower hem of the shirt is straight and is never to be worn tucked in.

The beautiful tropical prints in exuberant colors found in Aloha Attire are a perfect choice for either the extrovert or the introvert.  The extrovert expresses loud and clearly their enthusiasm while the introvert can let their attire spark a conversation with a perfect stranger.

Winter will probably linger on for a few more weeks, making the weather a constant topic of conversation and the need to book a winter escape all the more necessary.  Perhaps into that conversation you will now include a tidbit or two about this colourful fashion choice.  Aloha!


Works Cited:

Lisa (da Beanteacher). “Beanteacher Hawaiian Style Home.”, 2011. Web 25 Feb. 2015.