Sticking It Out When You Stick Out: Dressing Up In A Dressed Down Town
Spoiler Alert: We’ve already decided to nix Philadelphia as a longterm home. A few factors helped us come to this conclusion, none of which were “Philly is making me dress boring”, but alas, practicalities aside, I little by little began to realize something funny was happening in my life.
Philadelphia is making me dress boring.
It’s not that I don’t weirdly love being a brunette right now, but when my partner suggested I might have subconsciously dyed my hair to fit in more with the local flavor, I realized he had a point.
Me, an advocate for renegade style on your own terms, trying to look like everybody else. What’s going on??
Fitting in isn’t always a bad thing. It’s something that every single one of us is doing all the time. You weren’t born this cool– you shaped and moulded yourself based on the image and the inspiration of everything that’s ever turned you on in the world, and your custom blend of all things noteworthy is what makes you unique. In that sense, blending into the crowd isn’t really a negative thing at all– when it’s the right crowd for you.
So here I am beginning to “vibe with the vibe “of Philadelphia only to realize, is this really where I’m supposed to be?
It got me thinking about how much I took NYC for granted during my time there. You see, even the “I hate to dress up” crowd dresses up in New York. The goofy unbelievable trends the fashion magazines swear are peaking right now (I’m talking anklets, puddle hem pants, and sneakers that look like they were coated in insullation foam), are walking around Williamsburg right this very minute en masse, paying too much for gluten-free brunch, and trying to look fancyfree in their instagram posts.
I used to scoff at the predictable yet unabashedly chic trend-getters of the 5 boroughs, but when I compare these passing style phenomenons to the dated skinny jeans, homely heathered grey sweater options, and a variety of looks that remind me of camping that I see most often on the streets of Philadelphia, it becomes less about me meshing with the physical clothing choices of my chosen city, and more about me tapping into the overall mood my surroundings have toward the spirit of fashion.
I guess I’ve been living so long in a city where aesthetic style is front and center enough to reward you with literal high fives while you’re walking down the street, I forgot what it feels like to surround yourself with a majority of people who at most, give a wild outfit an inquisitive glance or simply, big yawn.
It’s not that fashion doesn’t exist outside of New York– every major city has a fashion scene made up of hardworking entrepreneurs, designers, stylists, and street fashionistas (and fashionistos for that matter) that are creating vibrant and purposeful wearable art. It’s just that some cities are a little artier than others.
So now, as I find myself thinking twice about wearing impractical shoes to the grocery store, and pondering the necessity of dressing up to go downtown, I’m beginning to reflect on the experience of those looking to up their style game within a space that just “isn’t that interested” in fashion.
We all require a certain level of commradery when it comes to our passions. We not only need a few good pals on our daily cheer squad, but we need a handful of buddies in our corner, on our team, in it to win it alongside us. I left a city where I felt part of a massive creative family to enter another that’s got me feeling like a lone bellringer. If anything, my time here has taught me to further appreciate those embracing their style loud and proud in locations that cater to anything but.
In my experience, it takes a lot more effort and bravery to do your thing in front of the wrong audience, rather than the one throwing roses.
In my experience, it takes a lot more effort and bravery to do your thing in front of the wrong audience, rather than the one throwing roses. But, history doesn’t get made by succumbing to the whims of everybody else.
I’ll be returning to my beloved New York City, my power place, toward the end of the year. In the meantime however, I’ll not only be resisting the urge to conform and compromise my style, but I’ll be practicing my gratitude and appreciation so much more to those living their truth everyday within a space that doesn’t understand them. NYC might be making the fashion world go round, but it’s the lone rebels stomping around the cities and towns that never made it to the fashion map, that are the true style heroes.
If this is you, please know that I am thankful.