PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARRETT NACCARATO
The Montreal-based wardrobe stylist shares his trove of track jackets and pants from the 1980s.
By Odessa Paloma Parker
Date November 7, 2022
There are people who demand attention and people who command attention,” says Cary Tauben as we chat between his prep meetings for a photo shoot. The Montreal-based stylist is discussing his style evolution and how he went from cheekily adding a pop to his private-school uniform with bright preppy polo shirts to the current colourful confections that comprise his wardrobe.
Tauben is a vestiary chameleon — one who places himself in the latter category of his philosophy because he dresses “for [himself] and no one else.” There’s not a pattern too bold, a heel too high or an embellishment too grand for his repertoire, and his outfits fluctuate from elevated streetwear to the glitziest of gala attire. Tauben also has a taste for active apparel, which is most evident in his cache of track jackets and pants from the 1980s.
“I stumbled upon my first piece when I was thrifting in Miami,” Tauben recalls of how his love affair with track suits started. He jokingly says he’s reminded of The Golden Girls thanks to the gentle vibrance and array of patterns from the ’80s era. “I always find variations that are super interesting and special.” Labels touting evocative but elusive brand names like Misty Valley Sport and Clipper Bay sometimes allude to their intended purpose with stick-figure cyclists and outlines of sailboats. But Tauben seems happier to flaunt them paired with platform lace-up booties more generally acceptable for the serious sport of lounging fabulously.
Highlighting that he’s a proponent of sites such as eBay and Etsy when it comes to procuring his collectibles, Tauben characterizes himself as an avid accumulator through and through; his home has multiple closet spaces to store and celebrate his assortments, which span from sunglasses to silk shirts.
“I’ve always had a thing for collections,” he says of how his life can easily be documented through myriad fashion-minded compilations. “If I liked cowboy boots, I would get 10 pairs of them. If I liked polos, I would get every single colour.”
Tauben fondly recalls his “ultra-chic” grandmother as being an inspiration point for his sartorial preferences: “She used to travel with hat boxes and always had really impeccable style.” And he also gives credit to his parents: “They encouraged me to do what I wanted to do and to express myself. I was so authentic and free at a young age.”
This zest for experimentation has not only empowered Tauben to captivate his social media community with his uninhibited outfit choices but also informed the effervescent images he styles. Having launched his career at 20, he now has a portfolio that includes star power thanks to his work with the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Jessica Stam, Grimes and Irina Lazareanu.
“I still love it as much as I did when I started,” says Tauben, who won The Stylist of the Year Award at The Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards in 2019. “I really enjoy working with people who love what they do, who know what their role is and who appreciate my input. And I think it’s really important that a job is a team collaboration.” Talk about being a good sport.
“Sometimes I like to match my outfits to my Bengal cat, Prince,” says Tauben of how perfectly this fierce ensemble complements his feline companion’s spotted coat. Looking ready to rock from within “Cary’s Closet,” he ups the intensity of his activewear with luxe accessories like Gucci sunglasses and outsized rings.
What’s in a name?
“I always have a little pizzazz,” Tauben quips about how he approaches daily dressing. It’s appropriate, then, that he was drawn to this multi-hued jacket boasting the moniker “Pizazz.”
“I’ll throw this track suit on with a red fur to go to the grocery store in the winter,” he notes of a Primrose by Janeve Sport set.
“I like a lot of colours, but turquoise and aqua are two of my favourites,” says Tauben when talking
about this elaborately patterned piece.
“I don’t like to follow rules,” says Tauben, adding that he loves the liberation that comes with mixing and matching pieces, like this jacket by the aptly named Active Stuff. His ability to flout fashion conventions earned him a fashion editor role at the age of 21.
“I was experimenting with my style at a young age,” explains Tauben of how he developed his flair for self-expression. This topper, possessing a distinctly late-Baroque motif, bears a label by the late American designer John Weitz and has “Versace vibes all the way.”
“When I start searching for a specific item online, I go off,” he notes of his fervent second-hand searches, and the rewards are often strikingly suitable for star-filled soirees. He wore this eBay-sourced Misty Valley Sport shorts look to a Winter Music Conference in Miami and the party at Sean “Diddy” Combs’s house that followed.
Tauben’s vintage treasures take up space alongside contemporary track suit styles by Louis Vuitton, Versace, Gucci and Moschino. And given the vibrancy of his wardrobe, you might be surprised to hear that for a time during his late teens, he wore all black.
Tauben says a regular pilgrimage to the Burning Man festival in Nevada has helped his style evolve, adding that he brings along “amazing outfits for sunset” as well as more relaxed fare.
Tauben scored this Active Attitudes suit while in Florida. “I love a set,” he says. “It’s so nice not having to think about pairings, but I can always style it differently. I’ve had so many collections, and I still do. I was definitely a little bit excessive growing up. Now, it’s one of those things where I really need to love something and want to wear it all the time.”
This article first appeared in FASHION’s November issue. Find out more here.