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April 19, 2018

The NY Look

Illustration by Rutuja Patil

How do you get the right look when in New York? Michael Paterson takes you through, step by careful step….

There’s a store in New York City called The New York Look. I’ve never been inside, but I always thought it was strange that a shop was able to come up with what the New York Look actually is. I wonder who shops there. Is it Betty from Boca who rushes in thinking she’s going to come out and instantly be snapped by Tommy Ton or Garance Dore or some other street style photographer? Probably!

So, is there a New York Look? And is it different from Paris, or Milan, or London? It got me thinking. And I think there is.

The weird thing is that the hottest mover and shaker in New York fashion isn’t even American. At Calvin Klein, Raf Simons has reinvented the label as a Eurocentric, hipster mishmash, but the blurb emanating from the house is that it’s all about ‘the American marching band’ or ‘the American horror movie’. There’s nothing American about it at all, unless you throw a few Amish quilts into the mix (which he does quite a lot, and they are quite lovely). But it’s a very European way of doing America.

Indeed, Fashion with a capital F isn’t very American at all. There’s always a nagging feeling among the fashion pack that New York doesn’t really matter, and you have to wait till the Paris shows for the real fashion. New York is like a hair shirt you have to wear for a week, before you’re allowed to enjoy Paris or Milan.

But that’s doing the New York Look a disservice.

So instead of saying what it’s not, let’s have a stab at what it is.

Here goes.

It starts with a sporty kind of chic. A piece that might have originated in the gym (Americans are obsessed with their bodies — and their teeth — but that’s a whole other story).

It could be a wide-leg, gym-type pant, or a perfectly tailored sweatshirt. Not the one you would actually wear to the gym — heaven forbid! — but one that costs hundreds of dollars, and maybe has an embroidered snake or a tiger on it. The fashion people have given this trend a new word: athleisure. (I can’t think of a sillier word, but it seems to have stuck). Alexander Wang has made a whole business out of it, when he’s not partying, or dancing, or dancing and partying.

Next, you must add a fantastic piece of designer label. Maybe it’s a Dries Van Noten blouse, or a Haider Ackermann cigarette pant. Something that says, ‘I like to offset my sporty side with a bit of elegant chic’.

Now, add a pair of sneakers — these are a must for the New York Look. Not any old pair but preferably a Brooklyn micro label that’s produced in limited editions of three, or two, or better still, one. Just for moi.

Then a large bag can be slung over your shoulder. Something Balenciaga-esque or mega-Coach.

And finally, the pièce de résistance: you must learn to walk like you mean it. Walk forward with your eyes down, don’t look up. You must duck and dive between the tourists gawping upwards. Keep going. Wait, there’s Tommy Ton; don’t, for god’s sake, look at him. Stare straight ahead, don’t flinch. Don’t hesitate. Don’t stumble.

That’s how you get the New York Look. You heard it here!

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