By Karen Rempel | Fashion Editor

In these days of social distancing, I couldn’t get my dear friend Dusty to take my picture. So this month’s column is my first selfie, taken using a mirrored elevator. And of course with all clothing stores closed, I needed to call on the contents of my fab four closets to put together my Corona Couture. I quite like this “incognito bandito” look, with the scarf over my face matching my shaggy orange corona. I selected individual pieces from some of my favorite Canadian, Turkish, and American designers.

Incognito bandito! West Village model Karen Rempel covers up to protect her peeps. Selfie by Karen Rempel.

Longing for the days when we could go watch people strut on the runway? Last October, SOREL had a fashion show on the Highline! Instead of using professional models, they chose real, everyday women like you and me. I love these SOREL boots, which I got at their store in the Meatpacking District. SOREL was founded in Kitchener, Ontario, but is now headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Their intention is to empower women with a simple message: The world is your runway! Think of that the next time you take your walk to get your daily dose of cleaner-than-usual NYC air.

Continuing with that theme, Vancouver-based Blue Sky Clothing believes that all shapes are natural and all sizes are beautiful. An innovative company that has been designing with renewable eco-friendly fabrics for over a decade, they are now offering bamboo masks and gloves in a variety of gorgeous patterns. (Order online.) I got this coat at their store on counter-culture Commercial drive in Vancouver, and it easily ported to New York. The nubby fabric has a lovely rough feeling, made of an unusual combination of bamboo and wool.

These black skinny jeans are from my Vancouver years as well. I vividly remember a conversation at the Mavi store in uber-trendy Yaletown, Vancouver, in the spring of 2017. I had just purchased the Turkish designer’s black skinnies shown in this month’s photo, and I was talking with the clerk. “We love our skinnies!” We both agreed. It hadn’t always been this way. When the skinny first came out in 2005, I clung to my 70s-style bell-bottom jeans. But eventually I came around. Now the fashion tide is turning again, and wide-legged high-waisted jeans are coming back around, with multiple options for hem lengths, ranging from lower calf to ankle to foot. But the skinny’s association with pop music, dating back to the Beatles’ drainpipe pants—and even earlier—means they will always be in style. We are living in a time when the Internet gives us access to photos and info about every decade of the last century. And for this reason, you can incorporate fashion pieces from each era into your own quirky style. See you on the runway!

For more stories, style notes, and fun photos, see and connect @karensquirkystyle.

Style Notes

Blue Sky black, bamboo-wool-blend coat with asymmetrical front closure and brass buttons. 1312 Commercial Drive, Vancouver.

Mavi black skinny jeans. 333 Helmcken St, Yaletown, Vancouver

SOREL waterproof boots with industrial outside zippers and square heels. Meatpacking District, 345 W 14th St.

Matt & Nat vegan circular cross-body bag made of recycled plastic. 1014 Mainland Street, Yaletown, Vancouver.

Guess camo-leopard-rimmed sunglasses. Broadway Station Eye Clinic, 2453 Commercial Drive, Vancouver.

Burnt sienna and black Indian-warriors-on-horseback scarf (over nose and mouth). Gift from a friend.

Silk-satin I-ching and floral patterned scarf (tucked into collar). The Met collection. Gift from a friend.

Karen Rempel has been contributing to WestView News since 2017. She is a photojournalist, technical writer, model, and artist. She has contributed articles, reviews, fiction, poetry, and photography to BC Woman, Discorder, Intercom, Merritt Herald, Ripe Magazine, Room of One’s Own, TV Week Magazine, Vancouver Sun, and more. Her artwork is currently on exhibit at the Revelation Gallery in the West Village.

5 thoughts on “Karen’s Quirky Style

    • Author gravatar

      Loved Karen’s beautiful “incognito bandito” style!

    • Author gravatar

      Hi Karen–The “incognito bandito” mask is really fun! In fact, it’s great to see the diversity of masks New Yorkers wear–I am making a series of colorful, sparkly or bejeweled masks–including a “synesthesia mask” full of color.

      I’ve been giving “sparkly colorful masks” to inspiring front-line workers here in the nabe (in my local supermarket, for example) as a way to say ‘thank you’!

      • Author gravatar

        Sparkly Pat Duffy, a New Yorker with style and heart
        Hi Pat,
        Wow, I love your sparkly mask! You look very stylish. I am so moved by your story of making masks for the front-line workers in our “nabe” who need to take the subway to get to work. New Yorkers are great, and you especially!

    • Author gravatar

      What a great idea to add sparkles to masks at a time when we need uplifting things to help us along. Pat’s kindness in sharing shines through, too.

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