This ain’t a guide to surviving NY’s fashion apocalypse, but more of just a silly ramble of an observation.
Going in and out of Manhattan every day on a 24/7 basis, I tend to get one of two reactions to my style – someone appears to accept my outfit, or a set of eyebrows raise at the sight of bright colors gracing the Grand Central “runways”. Why such drastic responses? That (along with how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop) is an answer I’ve been on quite a hunt for.
First, to attempt such a quest, it is best to look at the current landscape of NYC street fashion: There is a sea of denim, flowing delicate maxi dresses and skirts, golden sunglasses, leggings, lacy crop tops – every element that is, for lack of a better term, “basic”. Sure, there are the fashion children of 5th Avenue that do the trends better than the tourists, but they still don’t really stand out as the gods/goddesses of glamour that Instagram might have them believe to be.
But there is a small tribe of other individuals who take their inspiration from pop culture, nostalgia, colorful imagery, and other similar-minded fashion groups. They walk the streets suited in an armor decorated outside of Forever 21’s current norms, holding a shield made from the finest bits of social media influences and home-baked intelligence. Pride can likely flow through their bloodstream in some variation – but when the outside world questions their choices, that armor can feel a bit rusty at times.
I consider myself a member of such a group. As I am typing this, my color scheme is pink and lavender – a recent combo that has slowly become my standard this spring and summer. My skirt has Marie from Disney’s The Aristocats all over it, while my shirt has a similarly adorable print from Uniqlo featuring Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck. This sundae of an outfit is topped off by my lavender cardigan and matching Converse – which I wear in almost uniform schedule these days.
In my head, I feel like the pastel working girl I always wanted to be. The adult “Not Giving a Hoot” Andy from Pretty in Pink – but with a plus size Auntie Mamie meets Betsey Johnson mindset. I refuse to work in some typical get up, since it doesn’t match one bit of my personality – an element that I want to shine from head to toe.
But that isn’t the frame of mind many New Yorker’s, or general 2018 individuals, tend to take. Because much like any famous scene from a film – where the spunky underdog goes into a store and is given the infamous fish out of water look by the sales girl – many members of my colorful tribe don’t fit that ever so “trendy” mold. This often leads us to be asked that now typical question – “Wow, what is all this about?”
Now, when I was frequently wearing Lolita Fashion on a weekly basis, I understood what that question was referring to. Yes, it was quite obvious that what I was showing to the world was outside of the conventional norms of society, and usually evoked images of a time of more “proper” dress – or to others, a costume. But when I shifted my style to the 50’s/80’s influenced look, I assumed it wouldn’t seem as outrageous to the public at large. Adele rocks a similar look at times, and so do other celebrities… and sure, I may not be in jeans and wearing an oversized statement shirt, but I’m not wearing anything that strange… am I?
Yet somehow, on a Sunday afternoon in June with my best friends, I was. With every step we took down the Lower East Side (a place once home to punks and “freaks” of various renditions), we were greeted with the same question over, and over again. Though my buds had their own set of responses, I typically would take charge with the phrase, “Well, we’re just being our glamorous selves. Gotta dress your Sunday best, right?”
This statement always brought an interesting facial reaction. Had New Yorker’s forgotten what the rainbow (outside of a flag) appeared to be? Was the sight of a full skirt and pastels really that alarming? Did they also forget that Ariana Grande shows up wearing the bottom part of a prom dress as a whole gown, like a goddamn bad ass, regularly? Or is New York officially shocked by the concept of old fashioned femininity – so much so they think we represent some sort of rebellion? It is a lot of unravel.
Now, I’m no Anna Wintour or Linda Fargo, but I think that anyone on this planet (including me) has some sort of an eye for fashion. Sure, maybe my view is a bit “far fetched” in some markets, and heck, just like anything in life, style is objective…. but the fact that the people of New York City – one of the most glam and stunning places in the world – can’t distinguish a group of girls in “fancy” outfits just having fun from a similar minded clan of ladies, just with much more contouring and “current” fashion choices, is just simply depressing.
If it wasn’t evident to me before, with Starbucks out numbering the other overpriced coffee houses, and there being more food places than cool Punk stores on St. Mark’s place, it is official – New York City has lost its style edge. The gazes of the once out of the box thinkers have morphed into Brooklyn grocery shopping normies, that’d rather embrace shapeless neutral chiffon layers, slivers of jewelry, and personality deprived statement purses with tiny embroidered symbols. None of it is wrong or offensive, but that’s the problem – it just doesn’t spark any sort of reaction.
But maybe deep down, that is the mission of my “tribe” – to ignite “a flame” and perhaps some imagination. I doubt anything will ever come of me pairing my chucks with the rest of the pastel rainbow, but there is always hope that my clan of other “ruler breakers” will continue to grow, and symbolize both the fashion world we are rebelling against, and the better, more free thinking world we want in the next few years (if you get my drift...)
So, whether you live in New York or another zombie fashion land, don’t be afraid to throw some “Jackson Pollock style” individuality throughout your block. Show the normies of your area what it really takes to be cutting edge and stylish. Be an Andre Leyon Tally, with your cape in the air, and don’t care whose face it hits on the way out. This is a new era, where we have to leave our mark. And whoever asks us, “What’s this all about?” You know what to say….
“It is what is missing from this city, my friend.”