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West Village model Karen Rempel wrestles with chains outside Cafe Wha? Photo by Philip Maier.

By Karen Rempel 

This column is for all of you who have a favorite old sweater that you want to hang onto, even though your main squeeze pressures you to get rid of it and has tried three times to donate it to Goodwill. This quirky look is a real mash-up of styles and periods, but my vintage Macker hoodie ties it all together. COVID chic is comfy chic, and when the chill creeps in at this time of year, we need the comfort of our beloved old pieces more than ever. You know what I’m talking about—our softly tattered clothes that have been with us for many a year—maybe even for a lifetime or beyond. My dad emigrated to Canada in 1956, and he bought an olive green corduroy jacket with a sheepskin collar with his second paycheck. It’s older than me, and it’s my most treasured garment.

This navy hoodie is a close second. My true love at the turn of the century (as opposed to my true loves in other decades) gave me this Macker hoodie—designed by his brother, an up-and-coming sportswear designer—in the late ’90s. I used to call it the “Macker Wacker” because of the mirror image logo. This hoodie has been with me through many great moments in my life, including helping my sister paint my nephew’s baby bedroom before he was born. I wore it to paint at my log cabin in the BC wilderness as well; it was a staple for all the tough and dirty jobs that living alone in the wilderness entailed.

I got a kick out of pulling the Macker Wacker out of the drawer for this photo shoot at Cafe Wha?. A familiar sight at the corner of MacDougal Street and Minetta Lane, this historic club is another inspired location choice of photographer Phil’s. But when we got there on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we were surprised to see that the iconic side door was blocked by a giant blue-tarped mound wrapped in chains. But hey—if there’s a chain, wrap me in it! So instead of talking about the legendary Cafe Wha?, I’m going to tell you about another Village legend.

There are multiple campaigns underway to create a Jimmy Webb block on St. Mark’s Place, where Trash and Vaudeville was originally located. Jimmy died in April of this year. Known as “punk rock’s unofficial shopkeeper,” for many years he was the manager and buyer at Trash and Vaudeville, the coolest place for punk and rock gear like my glittering Ziggy Stardust boots. He opened his own boutique, I NEED MORE, in 2017. His Rolling Stone obit describes his fashion philosophy: “Dressing is all about the whole look… If one thing stands out, you’re a beautiful coat walking down the street, or a pair of pants on the subway. With everything on, even if the elements are different from each other, it blends.” You could say this mash-up outfit is a tribute to Jimmy.

For more fun Philip Maier photos, see karensquirkystyle.com.

Style Notes

  • YRU black glitter boots with Ziggy Stardust silver lightning bolts. Trash and Vaudeville. 96 East 7th Street.
  • Beyond Yoga x Barre3 camo-patterned leggings. Fresh from Barre3 West Village Studio. West 8th Street.
  • Vintage Bosa olive green pin-striped man’s shirt. The buttons are on the wrong side! Gift from a friend. Vancouver, BC.
  • Vintage Macker snowboarder hoodie. Gift from a friend. Vancouver, BC.
  • Parkhurst gray cloche fleece hat with faux fur trim. The Bay. Montréal, Québec.
  • Single dangly earring with black fur puff. CVS. 475 Sixth Avenue.
  • Vintage aquamarine ring. Pippin Vintage Jewelry. 112 W 17th Street.
  • “In the Shadows” MAC frost eye shadow and “Amazon…Amazoff” O.P.I nail lacquer.

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