Saturday, February 23, 2013

Musings: Uptown, Downtown

Only in New York would there be a "community look" that's distinctive of the neighborhood one lives in exists. In Brooklyn, you get all the "hipster" looks. In the Upper East Side you have the "ladies who lunches." In Soho/Lower East Side "models off duty" roam around the streets like the runway.  It's great seeing all these styles co-mingling in our fair, small city. But what about the "midtown" look? What is that?

Having recently moved from Hell's Kitchen to Chelsea, I thought a 20 block move wouldn't make a huge impact in terms of wardrobe choices in the weekends. After all, I come from a background of dressing corporate five days a week. (Dresses and killer heels, never a suit, unless I'd like to pull a Hedi Slimane Saint Laurent look.) So really, how much would my style evolve when it comes to dressing for leisure?

So it was out of ordinary when I plunked down money for a fur vest at What Comes Around Goes Around. Okay, it wasn't expensive (in fact, it was insanely cheap consider it's real sheep skin). But I surprised myself by wearing it all the time - running errands, eating brunch, going out to dinner with my family - and don't feel out of place whatsoever. In Chelsea, it's exactly the right thing to wear on a Saturday afternoon. At my old neighborhood, where the community consists mostly of young families and Broadway professionals, I'd feel out of place parading the exact outfit doing the exact same things 20 blocks south. Why do I feel this way? Is it because all the bright young things that live in Chelsea - and nearby meatpacking district touting the Milk Studio crowds - all share that same nonchalant luxe in the dead of winter?

The Chelsea look is more upscaled than the Soho girl but more relaxed than the Upper East Side madams. I can't explain it - it's neither uptown or downtown. Maybe the look should be called "midtown?" As Jen Brill (Chanel ambassador, Terry Richardson's muse and girl-about-town) once mused, "My downtown friends called my look 'uptown.' My uptown friends called my look 'downtown.' So what am I? Midtown?"

During a recent brunch, a group of bright 20 somethings walked into the restaurant wearing the most fabulous vintage - a 20s secretary blouse with red lips, a 70s print dress, a 80s Azzedine Alaia's bustier paired with slouchy paints - but the looks are modernized when paired with sleek black coats and sensible slim boots. A lady walked by with the most fabulous white bell-sleeve sweater I've ever seen - paired with a sleek Bottega Veneta leather woven hobo. These are the hi/low juxtapositions that only the Chelsea girls can do it so well.

I so need to learn a thing or two from this crowd.


Meniscus Magazine said...
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Meniscus Magazine said...

I would say that the one other city that has distinct styles by neighborhood is Tokyo. Those in Omotesando (the Champs-Elysees of Tokyo) would not be wearing the Goth Lolita or costumes of Harajuku kids, nor would Ginza women (Park Ave. types) ever be seen in the clubwear of Shibuya girls. In fact, 'hood-specific fashion is much more pronounced over there than in NYC.