Fashion and Style Report

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.


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  1. … the summer way too many women were wearing gypsy skirts with little (or too big) mirrors all over them — and fake “harem slippers” they sold everywhere on the street.

    • Robyn on August 24, 2008 at 2:01 am

    I have some new birkies that need breaking in.  Mostly I’m wearing lime green crocs.

    • Alma on August 24, 2008 at 2:03 am

    For many years I carried huge purses, with tons of pockets.  Now each time, I buy smaller and lighter ones, with only a few sections.

    Course I’ve always had my own style anyway.  Kind of comfy grung. 😉

  2. Pliner, Sesto Meucci, Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan, Sudini… but I can’t walk in anything more than a two inch heel so mostly I have variations on loafers and flat heeled boots. I buy them on ebay or on sale at Amazon.

    My actual sense of style is  non existent boring black jeans with a favorite silk shirt for a night out. I dress pretty conservative maybe because I have never had a good grip on what looks good on me. I have a few suits and my cute “little black dress” bit the dust after a number of years so if I got invited to a cool party or a night out at the symphony which never happens I would have to buy another one.

  3. who got her PhD in youthwork. The title of her dissertation was “The Price We Pay To Be Able To Wear Tennis Shoes To Work.” The older I get, the more I take advantage of that particular take on the fashion of my profession.

  4. for everyday chore/slumming activities.

  5. transitioned on the job in Manhattan during the 90s, so that informed my entire sense of what women are supposed to look like in professional contexts.  

    I have a lot of black clothing.  Really quite a bit.

  6. baseball caps unless they are a) playing baseball or b) doing an activity that requires head coverage.

    Wear an actual hat. Middle aged men in what I consider to be teen wear… some ancient t-shirt, baggy jeans, a baseball cap… icky.

    I don’t mind the jeans at all since that is mostly what I wear but wear a pair that fits you with some decent shoes and a shirt with a collar that is NOT a golf style/polo shirt. I like khakis but don’t pair them with the golf shirt and deck shoes please and nobody should wear pleats.

  7. except on boats. Sorry if I am insulting y’all but i just don’t like them!

    • kj on August 24, 2008 at 3:04 am

    decided to explore downtown. shops, of all kinds, galore. (found a vintage tee-shirt from a Robert Plant tour, which i had to have.) (also found a Howard Zinn’s Artists in a Time of War cd) (and free trade coffee) (and the Obama campaign headquarters), in other words, stopped in a bunch of places and have stories, but the one story that applies here is the white marshmellow birkies. found a guy who’s been a cobbler since his hippie days, he has a runs a birkenstock shoe store. mine are crapped out, so i opted for a resole (a full 50% cheaper than buying new) but needed something to ‘walk out of the store in’ as he put it. i wanted something waterproof, because the pair of rubber birkies at home are so old and cracked and broken they bent in half as i was walking up the stairs and i damn near killed myself. so he goes and finds the only pair of waterproof birkies and sells me these ugly white things for $20. i looked like a dork, but had on one my tee-shirts from the Tibetan monks, so didn’t mind the white shoes so much. (she said, not living in NYC.)

    oh! i also tried the must go to pasta place, and quite frankly, mine is better.  heh.

    • kj on August 24, 2008 at 3:12 am

    so not in the mood to talk politics.

    but i did slap some folding money down at Obama’s hq.

    just because.  😀

    • Viet71 on August 25, 2008 at 1:25 am

    there was a low-cost clothes retailer:  Robert Hall.

    Had a great musical ditty about why it sold clothes at low cost:

       Robert Hall this season

       Will show you the reason:

       Low overhead.

       Low overhead.

    Best fashion today, by far:  Goodwill and Salvation Army stores.

  8. a correlation between hemline height and national crisis.  Same thing?

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