Globe and Mail: Dress Code

By LEANNE DELAP

Saturday, August 27, 2005 Page L5

I always envied the girls in high school who planned their wardrobes a week in advance. One chick had a rigid schedule for when she would wear her designer jeans so she wouldn’t wear them out (now, of course, designer jeans cost six times the price, and are meant to look worn out, so those rotation skills may be obsolete).

There is no time in your life when clothes are more important. They are no longer used simply to delineate tribes; in 2005 your styling skills must extend to how well you can mix up finds from Grandma’s closet with bargains from Sears and splurges from Urban Outfitters. You also have to be a whiz at layering.

We invited four stars of the current class of Degrassi: Next Generation to show us how they dress off-screen. For 25 years, the show has been transporting Canadian school style to viewers in 60 countries.

We filled a classroom at the show’s Toronto set with a wonderland of clothes, shoes and accessories from Ben Sherman, American Eagle Outfitters, the Gap and Old Navy, among others. Then we invited Shane Kippel (who plays Spinner), Sarah Barrable-Tishauer (Liberty), Aubrey Graham (Jimmy) and Stacey Farber (Ellie) to play back-to-school dressup.

Barrable-Tishauer is 17 and attends Interact, an alternative school for kids with outside commitments. She says that her own wardrobe is very different from that of her character, who is “a nerd who doesn’t care about clothes.” Indeed, in real life, she spends a lot of time trolling vintage and bargain stores. Her best find lately is a pair of white bowed pumps that cost her $11 at Sears. Like any teenager, her moods shift as do her style impulses: “I don’t wear the same thing every day,” she says. “I love to dress up, and I love to dress down.”

Castmate Stacey Farber, who turned 18 this week, will be attending York University this fall. Her big fashion move of late was to raid her grandmother’s closet. It yielded two awesome pairs of pumps.

Farber loves to layer her stuff, and was so attached to the vest she had just purchased from Urban Outfitters that she wore it in her shot. The beads were a recent vintage acquisition. “Jeans are a big deal,” says Farber, who likes Sevens. “The fit has to be perfect.”

As for the guys, both Graham and Kippel report they are in transition. Trying on clothes with the price tags still on, Kippel jokes about “the stolen look, bad in the day,” when performers would wear their tags on their clothes, la Minnie Pearl on Hee Haw. “I wear skater,” he says, “but I’m starting to move away from that.” Indeed, he gravitates toward collared shirts for the shoot.

Graham wears an old Puff Daddy shirt to our photo shoot: “It’s vintage, way back from the No Way Out tour.” Of course, to the 18-year-old, who has finished school, 1995 is a vintage year. Graham, who also works in the music industry, is sponsored by A Bathing Ape clothing. “I like loose clothing, but I don’t do baggy the way I used to.”

And he likes his sneakers very, very white. “They never have scuffs, man,” he says.

School Rules

Here are a few back-to-class style tips we picked up for our panel of famous high-school experts.

Go to Grandma’s: Because no teen finds their own parents cool enough to pillage from, the advice is to go to Grandma’s house to look for vintage treasure.

Visit stores often: Merchandise changes often at the mall chain stores, and even though teens have more disposable income proportionate to adults, labels are pricey, so you have to be on the lookout for bargains. The regular shopper is the one rewarded with the best finds.

Keep your T-shirts immaculate: Unless the point of a T-shirt is that is look vintage, keep all basics in top form.

Layer your tees: You can create whole new outfits by wearing them in multiple layers. This is a good chance to mix up colours.

Wear long scarves: Long, thin knitted scarves can make an old outfit look new.

Accessorize: Pair unexpected items like pearls with sweatshirts. Many teens spend more on junk jewellery than they do on anything but their jeans.

Don’t fixate on labels: Fit comes first, ahead of the right name across your backside.

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