‘Worn Stories’ Highlights The Human Connection of Clothing

Netflix’s new documentary miniseries, Worn Stories, gives viewers an inside look into the clothing that shapes who we are.

Everyone has that one piece of clothing that holds a special place in their hearts. Whether it’s that well-fitted pair of jeans, a colorful hat, funky socks, or my own high school ripped overalls, we all have an article of clothing that encompasses a chunk of our identity. In the Netflix documentary miniseries Worn Stories, the intense and beautiful connection to our static clothing comes to life.

Worn Stories, adapted from Emily Spivack’s best-selling book of the same name, follows various individuals and their relationship to clothes. The miniseries has eight episodes, where each one focuses on four people and their stories, interspersing scenes with interviews with other characters. Each 30-minute episode has one overarching theme ranging from ideas like community, growing up, and love, among others.

All subjects give us a compelling glimpse into their life, almost like we’re witnessing a mini-memoir. No story is the same as we experience personal accounts from all walks of life. Each person has their own diverse backstory, whether it’s a non-binary teen named Spirit searching for their B’nai Mitzvah outfit or Patrice, who never let her disability stop her from pursuing her dream as a crossing guard. What each person has in common, though, is their bond to a meaningful piece of clothing.

The series offers a new amusing approach to documentary filmmaking as part of each character’s narrative is portrayed through animation, claymation, and puppets. Cue a fun musical number with puppets representing each of the core four for the episode titled “Growing Up.”

Episodes weave between the lines of humor, joy, and heartbreak. The first episode catapults us into a nudist community in Kissimme, Florida, showing us the connection between being naked and being free. While these places are often stigmatized as wacky and promiscuous lifestyles, the series offers a warm-hearted perspective where people are accepted for who they are.

Individuals also use clothing as a way to grieve throughout the series. Both Maxan from Philadelphia and Joe from New Jersey have lost their sons. Maxan wears a memorial shirt to remember her son while Joe ghost hunts wearing his son’s hoodie. In an emotional release from both people, clothing can also help us start the process of healing.

One of the most heartfelt moments of the series focuses on a Korean immigrant, Mrs. Park. Residing in Queens, New York, Mrs. Park wears her bright yellow sweatshirt every time she goes to her dance class with other Korean women. With her positive attitude and fellow kindred spirits, Mrs. Park emphasizes the power of an intimate garment and close-knit community.

While many characters we’re introduced to are everyday people who may fly under the radar, they speak about their clothing and lives with so much passion. It’s like we’ve opened up a storybook, and each individual fits themself into one chapter. We even get some celebrity cameos from entertainer Charo, fashion designer Simon Doonan, United States Representative Frederica Smith Wilson, and even Tina Turner’s saxophonist Tim Cappello.

Although everyone has an important story to tell, eight episodes may have been a little too long. For example, the Las Vegas scenes, while hilarious and full of heart, could have been pushed into one episode. The Las Vegas-centered themes bring so much excitement, though, as one story follows an Elvis impersonating wedding officiant, Ron. You can never go wrong with a Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The show takes us on a journey through people’s lives through their deep love of clothing. We might think an old t-shirt is just a t-shirt, but to someone else, it’s so much more. Pieces of fabric can transform our lives through experiences we would have never imagined. It shapes who we are and who we want to be. Worn Stories help us realize the impact of our garments and tell us never to let go.

Worn Stories premieres globally on April 1.

About the Author

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Natalie Daniels

Natalie Daniels is a Journalism major at Emerson College in Boston and an intern at AfterBuzz TV. With her love of entertainment news and positive storytelling, she is passionate about all things music, TV/ movies, and pop culture.