You Are What You Wear
You are likely to hear more than once that, according to popular wisdom, „Americans like to dress comfortably”. It is true that the preferred feature of what they wear is not getting in the way of how they function in their everyday lives. New Yorkers are a different story, though. It’s true that they like comfort and prize it highly, but it’s far more important to them to stand out from the crowd. They don’t forget they live in one of world centers of fashion. You have to live up to that.
New Yorkers know it’s not enough to wear something fashionable to become or just look en vogue, not to mention to get noticed and commented upon. The outfit has to contain a specific personality – only then is it “complete”. How do you do that, though? How do you stand out among millions of other people who try to do exactly the same thing? You think that all it takes is to wear pink hot pants and dye your hair accordingly and everyone will “go crazy”? Not only nobody will, but more than likely you won’t even get noticed. Pink hair…? Try shaving off 1/8 of it and write something like “Free the rabbits!” with black spray paint on your head – maybe someone will notice you, before saying: “Next!”
What’s important (and I’m speaking to all those unsure of their own taste), there’s no such thing as „inappropriate wear” over here. New Yorkers don’t mind popular trends (some do, of course, and will buy any “latest thing”, no matter how absurd) and prefer to create their own. You can wear anything and pretend that it’s all the rage. Any hairdo, any kind of piercing, any green hair you can think of won’t get laughed at or ridiculed. When it comes to fashion, all bets are off in New York City.
Clothes over here can shock, amaze, stupefy, raise eyebrows and cause you to smile at their inventiveness. Even though you can wonder sometimes which garbage pile is responsible for the bracelet you just see someone wearing, you’d still have to admit that New Yorkers’ creativity reaches absolute peaks. I never went to Tokio, but I imagine that city alone can compete with NYC in the “you-ain’t-seen-nothing-yet” category.
The most interesting „specimens” can be found in Manhattan, at 14th street and below. Another spotting ground is the first Brooklyn station of the L train, “Bedford” in Williamsburg, which belongs to artists and hipsters.
I guarantee that during the first few days of walking the streets of NYC you will stare at all the fashion freaks, often marveling at the courage some people have. It is courageous to wear what you want and show who you are, paying no attention to “what people will say”. You’re entitled to that here. There’s no greater manifestation of one’s independence that the clothes we wear – they can say more about us than we even dare to say out loud.
Watch out how long you stare and who are you staring at, though. You can be “politely” admonished and asked: “What is your problem?”