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You Wear It Well

October 22, 2013

Crossing West 42nd Street the other day, a brochure was thrust at me. “Double decker bus ride?” asked a man wearing a jacket with the company’s logo emblazoned on the front.

Mortified, I looked at my friend. “Can you believe that? Did he really think I was a tourist?” Was I wearing a backpack across my chest? A fanny pack and white sneakers? A color other than black?

sex n city picAccording to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, unless you’re wearing black, navy or gray, you might as well be wearing a sign that reads, “I’m from anywhere other from here!” As New Yorkers, many of us take pride in looking the part. But that doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a Prada bag slung over your arm or a yoga mat strapped to your back (I’m more the latter), but the most identifying accessory is, of course, your attitude.

yoga matsThis “don’t mess with me” expression can be seen all over the city, especially on crowded subways, busy streets and any Trader Joe’s. I think this stems more from survival than not wanting to interact with others. As New Yorkers, we’ve got a lot going on, but more so, getting from Point A to Point B takes enormous effort, day after day.

We’ve all heard the expression, “clothes make the man,” but aren’t we also told not to judge a book by its cover? Kids are bullied for wearing the wrong clothes. That happened to me. Summer camp, 1982. Girls had teased me because I didn’t own Guess jeans. When I returned home, my grandmother, having heard about Jeansgate, offered to buy me a pair.

“For your birthday,” she said. Nana always gave us checks for our birthdays and they rarely amounted to more than ten dollars.

“It’s okay Nana,” I said, knowing how much Guess jeans cost. “They’re not worth it.”

At that young age, my parents had instilled enough proper values in me that I knew that having a loving grandmother was worth a whole lot more than having the right jeans. Yet here I am, 30 years later, offended that someone misjudged me because of my clothes. Have I forgotten those early childhood lessons? Maybe I’ve just been in NYC too long. I mean, those girls from camp? They were from New York.


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  1. Deborah Golden permalink

    This hit so close to home. These days I go to the clearance rack or the shelves at Target and Kohl’s to get most of my jeans (sshh, don’t tell anyone). I don’t care if they are designer jeans as long as they fit well and don’t make my butt look too big (anyone who knows me well knows that’s an impossibility). But as a kid I was never stylish – often the odd one out and sometimes it hurt. In high school I wore my lack of style boldly when I donned work boots and a granny dress but mostly I dressed like a lumber jack/hippy with jeans, a flannel shirt, no make up and naturally frizzy hair. I didn’t have a choice because I didn’t have a clue. Being a teen was hard but then I grew up and now I wear my jeans and flannel (or fleece) shirt with a smile and I feel just right.

  2. Albert permalink

    Love it

  3. Rena permalink

    Mądrzy ludzie patrzą na to kim jesteś i dostrzegają to co masz wewnątrz siebie, a nie to co nosisz na sobie:) Lubię Twój blog, szkoda że nie znam na tyle angielskiego, żeby się w nim w pełni rozkoszować, ale od czego mamy tłumacza:) Jesteś pozytywnie nastawiona do świata i czerpiesz z życia to co najcenniejsze. Masz dobre stosunki z rodziną a to w życiu najbardziej się liczy. Lubię Cię Felice:)

  4. My mother says my closet looks like a black hole. And I moved away from NYC nineteen years ago. I own 93 copies of the same black dress (this is what my husband says). I say, find a style and stick with it. You, Ms. Cohen, have more style than just about anyone I know. Wear it with pride. xo

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