Just What Is New York Style?

The quest in trying to locate exactly what makes New York Style, New York. So just what is New York Style? A recent philosophical ponder during New York Fashion Week when I was snapped on the streets and the Photographer said to me “I love your New Yorker style!” which brings us to this very topic at hand.

We can all agree that style is something personal, right? and I agree but it’s hard to refute the plain fact that different countries and more acutely, cities, develop and fine tune cues that become indigenous to their regions. These cues are often influenced by circumstantial details — a city that snows 200 days a year vs. a place where social culture depends on nightlife, or nature. This is the minutia that separates your city’s style from another’s. But in terms of the style of a New Yorker, I have been having a hard time grasping exactly what makes New York style – well, New York. This problem has only been further propelled by my time spent in other major Cities, like Paris, HongKong, and London.

Paris for one, you can see me stalkerish-ly admiring the city’s denizen in thigh high Céline boots (that could have been anything and still looked equally spectacular) and the animal-friendly, blue and hairy Carven coat that cloaked her upper half, and I would find myself asking why she looked so Parisian when it’s obvious that if I were to attempt at the same outfit, I would look like I was trying too hard. For the Parisian though, it’s what was natural and devastatingly French.

So what is devastatingly New Yorkaise? I tried to come up with adjectives but realized that the qualities they evinced — effortlessness, cool, dark, practical, minimalistic and so forth — are actually attributes we’ve borrowed from elsewhere. Black, for one thing, is not exclusively New York. It has been universally adopted as the anthem of fashion and if anyone has a true stake on the shade, it is unequivocally Emmanuelle Alt who is definitely not a New Yorker. On the other hand, “American style” doesn’t quite define New York style either. Yes, Ralph Lauren is local but his aesthetic reads more American than it does New York.


In such a transient city, we become transitional individuals and as a result, dressers. When I asked the Photographer whom, without hesitation dubbed my style New Yorkaise, they said “You just exude confidence to your layered look. And your layering game is dope.” With that brought me to my follow-up question, how would they define New York style, to which they responded “New Yorkers have a tendency to pack their schedules and often never get to go home and change. The schedule packing equips New Yorkers to dress in a way that teaches them to dress more volatile than NYSE’s stock exchange.”

The Photographer was definitely onto something. My 8 months experience to living as a New Yorker, with meetings uptown becomes a lunch in midtown and a launch party in Brooklyn. Three dramatically different settings that beg one outfit to string them together and do it flawlessly. When it’s cold, it’s cold, and those multiple pairs of socks and neck-paralyzing scarves have a utilitarian function that transcend the boundaries of layering for the sake of looking cool, but still speak to our tendency toward irony because the fashion aspect of the total look doesn’t get lost on the spectator. And when it’s hot, we put to practice similar policies in the opposite direction and our blaring sense of the shifting, seasonal paradigm forces us to live with closets that could conceivably clothe a very broad selection of women.

Yvette xo