I learnt something about fashion in New York. I know, groundbreaking stuff, right? Woman travels to one of the four fashion capitals of the world and returns with a new idea about style. Not exactly completely unexpected. But what I did learn about fashion was.
Walking the streets in new York, I expected to see expensive clothing, stylishly cut hair, women wearing stilettos, oversized sunglasses and the absolutely cutting edge of style. Women would be rugged up in capes, heeled boots, their hair perfectly blowing in the wind. Men would be wearing Ralph Lauren trench coats with Burberry scarves and shiny black shoes.
What I found was very different.
Walking the streets of Manhattan, and we went everywhere from East Village to the Financial District, to 5th Avenue to Upper West Side, the most common choice of footwear for women was ugg boots. It got to the stage where, upon going to Woodbury Commons designer factory outlets and seeing an Ugg Australia store there, I started to wonder if they weren’t aware ugg boots are supposed to be worn indoors.
Those who weren’t wearing ugg boots were often wearing ballet flats or sneakers. While coats were seen, hoodies were more common for both men and women. On one journey to buy a bagel (how typically New York is that? I had to do it) I saw not one, not two, but 5 different people or varying ages wearing pyjama pants. It was the middle of the day. They weren’t in a group either, they were just wearing pyjama pants. And I’m not talking stripes pants that looked suspiciously like pyjama pants, I’m talking full-on fleece pyjama pants. One set had Elmo on them.
And then it hit me: People in New York are part of the fashion capital of the world not because they follow fashion trends, but because they don’t.
Everyone in New York seemed to have unanimously decided that they could just wear whatever they damn well pleased. And there were expensive gold chains worn with tracksuit pants, and there were ghd curls worn with ugg boots. There were Hunter gumboots worn with mini skirts and there were cute hats worn with hoodies. It wasn’t that people didn’t put any effort into their appearance, quite the opposite, it was that they didn’t care what anyone else was wearing.
And it was contagious.
It wasn’t long before I was strutting my stuff in a blazer, black leggings and cowboy boots and feeling a million bucks because I was comfortable and wearing something I thought looked good, even if cowboy boots aren’t in fashion. And I was complimented. Everywhere I went. My hair was complimented in its braids, my boots were complimented (a lot, especially by men), and the Viking adored the outfit.
It’s an attitude to style I hope I have brought back with me, along with all the ridiculously amazing and cheap clothing and accessories I brought back with me. A little reminder that nothing looks better than an outfit that makes you feel good. Nothing looks more stylish than clothes that reflect who you actually are. And nothing looks better than the things you like the look of.
In the words of Coco Chanel “Fashion fades. Only style remains.”
Have you ever had a fashion epiphany? Do you dress for you, or for fashion?