5 Fashion Things You Can't Get Away With When You Move From London To New York
The Debrief: No jumpers!? No trainers?! What fresh hell is this?
Much is made about the opposing style sensibilities of London and New York. On the surface, London leans more cool, while New York is polished perfection (even the most downtown Manhattan neighborhoods still embrace what’s chic). In the outer boroughs, it’s only Brooklyn that has a taste for the London look, but since I was moving home to Manhattan, I knew there were some hard fashion truths I’d have to face.
After five years in the Big Smoke it was time to pack up, call it a day, head back to the motherland. Admittedly, I’d stumbled on the aesthetic when I’d first arrived in London myself, wearing my highest heels to every meeting, and all black to look my best. I’d sit on the tube and watch wardrobe subversives board at every stop, growing more daring as we neared Old Street. The girl wearing the emerald green corduroy jacket over a rumpled purple polyester sheath, with sparkly gold ankle boots and, judging by the way it stood of its own volition, hair that had not been washed in days? Welcome to 8 a.m. on Tuesday. But then something happened, possibly after attending one too many fashion weeks where all my efforts to assemble the right look fell flat, I started to get it. No matter the zone, it wasn’t about the effort. It was about expression. I’m not saying I ditched black for good, went in search of my own shiny boots (that happened later), but I learned to relax. Unfortunately, Manhattan is unfamiliar with the concept. So, here are the lessons it’s taken me twelve months to re-master:
1. No jumpers at work
The cozy tops just don’t suit the office vibe in the Big Apple, not even in a fashion office. Save your quirky Bella Freud sweaters with playful messages (same goes for slogan tees) for the weekend. The witty one-liner is in French? No one cares, because it looks like you just rolled out of bed. The only caveat here is if it’s styled with a demure pleated skirt – proceed at your own peril.
2. Ditto trainers
Despite the fact that joggers have been featured on runways from Chanel to Dior for back-to-back for seasons, they still receive the side-eye from higher-ups in the workplace – even at a footwear publication (trust me). Last winter, while wearing a pair of blue/black Nike Flyknit Racers (that never knew a gym, mind), I was asked if I was going on a run after work by an editor who should have known better. The sneaker as style statement is so ubiquitous these days that it’s nearing the end of its trending run. Just make sure you don’t lace them up Monday through Friday.
This is an obvious note, but worth repeating: limp, day-old locks are not going to cut it in the land of lady liberty. No matter your schedule. No matter the season. End of story. Dry shampoo is not a thing, it’s a question mark on this side of the Atlantic. You’d better know how to work a round brush and the settings on a blow dryer. Come June, New York humidity knows no bounds. Top tip: stock up on hair pins and adjust your part accordingly.
4.Flats at night
Pointed, rounded, or boxy, flat footwear is a fine option as long as the sun is shining. Unlike sneakers, ballerinas have been acceptable work attire for years and the comfortable shoe movement has only come up with more fashion-forward styles to try on for size. The more masculine brogue or monk-strap looks are a strong counterpoint to high-waisted skirts or slouchy denim, but by evening they should be relegated to the far corners of your closet. Sky-high platforms are no longer required, but your heels need to notch inches on a ruler. Editor’s note: bouncers in some parts of town (notably Meatpacking but also everywhere), will glance down before granting you admission to the bar.
Common advice is to clash at your own risk unless you want to be on the receiving line of the occasional 'how ever did you come up with that combination?' Better still to be sure your print combos have been Olivia Palermo-certified (peep her street style on Pinterest for a refresher course).
But fashion rules are made to be broken, no?
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At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating