By Anna Murphy
New York, NY, USA
I understand the name of this column may be misleading because I do not consider myself a fashion writer in the slightest. In fact, I think most people who keep fashion blogs are not at all qualified to speak on the topic. You know what I’m talking about…those girls who claim to be trend-spotters, advising readers to wear “sherbet colors for summer,” but don’t cite the identical J.Crew ad spread by the same title? Or how about the “bloggers” who give advice for “dressing your body type” or “what to wear on lunch with his mom” - repurposed from the pages of Lucky and People StyleWatch magazines?
So while I don’t have a degree from FIT and can barely thread a bobbin on a sewing machine, I do know what I see on the New York City sidewalks and what I do on a day-to-day basis to survive amongst the fashion elite.
Fashion in New York is fascinating. Really, anything goes. And people have no qualms in letting their freak flag fly high. I’m lucky enough to work at a place that doesn’t have a strict corporate dress code - where sensible slacks aren’t frowned upon per se, but harem pants would probably be lauded and laurelled all the more. In fact, while interviewing there, I was told that jeans were fine (so long as they were trendy $200 Mother brand - just kidding) just further attesting to how much people value the expression of personal style, even in the work place. This was good news, but not a game-changer, as I rarely wear jeans. Being 5’2”, you can’t just throw on denim…you also have to pair them with a set of 6-inch heels and a blousy top in order to not look “stout.”
In my industry, we’re expected to have our finger on the pulse of what’s now, including fashion - because makeup/skincare is only part of the overall beautiful presentation. What you wear matters and “practical” is a four-letter word.
I’ve always been known to have a “unique” sense of style. Friends, colleagues and family members alike are quick to point out the weirdest offering a store has (e.g. a floor length neon leather number, embroidered with horse heads) and say, “This looks like something you would wear, Anna.” Usually I don’t get offended, because more often than not, it’s true. I not only adopt, I revel in the craziest of trends and firmly believe that taking risks is entirely necessary to learn, grow and mature one’s fashion prowess. At my old job (more corporate, but with a lax dress code) I remember wearing a tutu and cowboy boots, which received acknowledgement in the form of, “You would.” And I would. And I did. And I do.
My roommate and I have similar taste and often dress each other for important meetings, dates or a night on the town. Our main challenge is toning it down. “Is this too much?” is the most commonly uttered question in our humble abode. But even though we faithfully ask that question, the combination of red lips, a bold necklace, wild patterned dress AND lace tights often makes its way out our door and onto the New York City sidewalks - our own personal runways.
What we have recently come to learn is that, when we throw something together, as in literally toss a dress over boots, throw on a wild hair accessory, smack on some bright blue eyeliner and run out the door (oftentimes forgetting the very important steps of applying deodorant or brushing one’s hair), we get the most compliments on our “effortless chic” looks. We love story-sharing post-work on our frantic and frazzled mornings, dissecting every delicious accolade on how so-and-so LOVED our outfit and wanted to know where to buy the dress, the shoes…the whole nine yards. It’s become so thrilling that I no longer lay out my outfits. I purposely wake up late, wildly pillage my closet and hope for the best. (I guess that’s not entirely true, but it’s quite close).
The mornings-after-nights-out are when we get most creative in our attire. We are also not usually 100% clear-headed, which leads to “just wear this old bridesmaid dress and throw on a jean jacket to make it more casual.” Often, neither one of us intervenes with the other’s clown costume. We go to work looking like tools and the compliment floodgates open. I recently told my work colleagues that I dress up on mornings where I don’t feel so hot to counterbalance my bloodshot eyes and/or scratchy voice. So now, the jig is up.
I think people take too much time trying to perfect their head-to-toe, when the important thing to realize is that imperfection is attractive and not matching is cool…if you wear it with CONFIDENCE. Someone could be wearing the most ridiculous thing ever, but if they are marching down the street with a purpose (sunglasses and a Venti coffee in hand), you better realize that I am going to want the shoes on those stomping feet. Because confidence means you’re wearing the clothes and not letting the clothes wear you. (I know, I know, I probably took this exact phrase verbatim from some magazine article - so I’m a hypocrite). My biggest pet peeve is people who only buy designer duds, but always look dumpy. You’d have no idea that their combined net worth in clothing was $10,000, because they look like a schlump. On the contrary, it tickles me pink when I ask where someone’s cute skirt is from and they reveal it’s a Wal-Mart find. Rep it girl.
I guess I have come a long way from the Jack Rogers/Lilly uniforms of yore. And even though I am about to be late for work and am still wearing my pajamas, it really doesn’t matter, because, as long as I am holding my head high and my Venti coffee close, no one will question my outfit choice...even if it is a glorified prom dress.
Anna Murphy works in Beauty PR and resides in the East Village of Manhattan with her sorority sister. She enjoys long runs on the Hudson River, live music, vegan cookies and the Florida Gators.