subtitle: The Strange Summer of 2003
I perform strange experiments here in New York City.
In the late 90’s I looked around to see if any women were wearing shoes of a color other than black, white, brown or red.
See, Manhattan has its own sense of style, and it really is wonderful to people watch in various neighborhoods. In Midtown you can see the working woman look and a little farther uptown you see the rich ladies in their rich clothes. And in the Village, it was one original outfit after another, usually black.
As a matter of fact, a disproportionate number of women in Manhattan wore black, it was considered the Metropolitan style. Even in summer.
So when I first performed my experiment, I literally didn’t see one pair of colored shoes worn by Manhattan women other than the ones I listed above.
Of course, it wasn’t a very scientific experiment, but I really did look at hundreds of women. I got sort of obsessed by it.
Then came 9/11. And two years later, the summer of 2003.
All of a sudden there was an explosion of almost 1950s style color coordination. Shoes matched bags matched dresses matched jewelry. It was almost Stepford Wife-ish.
I saw shoes of every color in the rainbow, orange, powder blue, pink (oh TONS of pink!), peach, lime green, violet, big bouquets of women walking around the town.
Go to Macy’s and see rainbow bags, and I think the designers got a bit carried away when they started coming out with these kind of rubber-like handbags (in every imaginable color) that were translucent, as though you’d want everyone to see what you had in your bag. I dunno.
My crackpot theory at the time was that the women had decided to dress like flowers so no more 9/11’s would happen again. Yes, I know that makes no sense. It’s a poetic conceit.
Then came the pointed toed stiletto heels. Up until then no one wore heels during the day higher than 3 inches, and 3 inches was considered pretty high. But then came 3-1/2 inches, and 4 inches. A lot of tottering around. Even now you’ll see women in 4 inch wedgies, though the pointy toed shoes seem to be fading now, rounder toes are coming back. I thought the pointy toed shoes would be uncomfortable, but turned out they weren’t — if they were well made, the toe part really didn’t encase your toes, just kind of extended from them. Of course some women went quite mad and I read in the NYT that they were getting surgery on their feet so their shoes would fit better. I don’t even want to know what was going on in their minds. Scary.
Now it’s a mix. Lots of women have gone back to black. I have seen, though, many beautiful white dresses and full skirts and such. Hot colored Pucci-like designs are also very popular, swirls of intense reds and purples and lime greens and black in almost psychadelic patterns.
And there’s some younger women who wear sundresses that are a bit too low cut so they wear less low cut sleeveless T-shirts under them in coordinating colors.
Most of the women on my subway wear flipflops, some of them very fancy with fake giant jewels on them, or in silver or gold lame.
I dunno, I think fashion style in NYC has gotten more conservative. Maybe it’s as a result of the Republican Convention being held in NYC for the ’04 elections. But I have no scientific proof of that.
Oh, and one other thing. Handbags have gotten huge over the past several years, the size of suitcases, practically, but still shaped like handbags. Really weird. Just huge.
And now I have come to the end of my fashion and style report. Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.