New York City: the city that never sleeps – or at least, so I had always grown up hearing. It was only during this last spring break, though, that I was actually able to see the truth of this phrase come to light. With its many distinct boroughs, New York offers a unique assortment of diverse restaurants and activities and is inhabited by people from all walks of life. With this broad spectrum of identities comes a blend of many eclectic styles that change from neighborhood to neighborhood. The financial district’s professionalism sets it apart from the self-expressive Brooklyn area and the high-fashion Chelsea district. Alongside my parents, I took advantage of all that NYC had to offer – at least, as much as possible within a six-day time frame – and came away with a newfound appreciation for the distinctive East Coast fashion and lifestyle, cannolis and street meat. Throughout this trip, our explorations contributed to the expression of my own style, as I often sported my trusty motorcycle jacket, vintage Levi’s, Blundstone boots and artsy graphic tees.
As the most populous city in the United States, NYC relies on a variety of forms of transportation, all of which provide tourists and natives alike with various perspectives of city life and ways to navigate around it. The expansiveness of the city is emphasized from across the Hudson River via water taxi tours and the Staten Island ferry. The Rockefeller’s Top of the Rock provides a bird’s eye view of the shrunken skyscrapers and boroughs, one which fortunately, was only made better with the snow flurry witnessed at roughly 850 feet above ground.
Despite this harsh climate, New York residents were fashionably prepared for anything thrown their way. I spotted people sporting neutral trench coats – and even fur coats – around the city during these first few days, often paired with weather-appropriate yet simultaneously stylish, boots and scarves.
The subway system efficiently carries thousands of people a day beneath the bustling city seemingly undetected, and somehow, I managed to get tremendously lost only a handful of times while using it (a big feat for a directionally challenged Oregonian.)
The Grand Central Terminal is also tasked with transporting people around the region – an estimated 750,000 passengers daily, which I learned on a cheesy, parent-inflicted tour that included more people than the entire population of San Francisco.
Typically, my parents and I relied on these forms of transportation – although we still managed to fit in roughly an additional nine miles on foot a day – to bring us to restaurants and museums. These escapades included exploring often with, or in pursuit of, full stomachs. With New York’s cultural diversity come a variety of interesting culinary options that you better believe I took advantage of. Little Italy’s pasta and pastries can be found just a few short minutes from China Town’s bubble tea, all a reasonable distance from our comfortably situated Airbnb in Greenwich Village. Greenwich itself has a lot to offer – particularly cafes, bakeries and tapas-style restaurants and bars. With a week off from cooking, my parents and I were able to take in as much as NYC had to offer, yet fortunately still, walked it off (almost) every time.
Although the food was artistic, the exhibitions of various art museums, too, presented aesthetically pleasing experiences and an entirely different sort of feast – a feast for the eyes. There really is nothing like seeing your personal favorite art pieces in person, and fortunately for me, most of my favorite art is located in NYC! The works of Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Claude Monet, Chuck Close, Frida Kahlo, Ansel Adams, Henri Matisse, Camille Henrot, Gustav Klimt, Salvador Dalí, Roy Lichtenstein and so many more were more inspiring and motivating in person than expected. While we visited a ton of different spots, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History and the Saturday Night Live tour at NBC Studios stood out for all the memorable things they had to offer.
Towards the end of my trip, I split away from my parents and explored more youthful areas around NYC with my friends Rhaine Levesque, Jessica Miller and Clare Lagomarsino. While Rhaine and Jessica are also University of Oregon students, Clare is a freshman at the Parsons School of Design and has taken New York by storm!
When asked about how her style has changed since moving to the Big Apple, Clare mentioned a noticeable transformation: “It’s so much easier to be experimental in the city. I can wear whatever I want, and no one even bats an eyelash, especially at Parsons where kids come to class wearing cool stuff they made. Since moving here, I’ve learned to invest in super comfortable pieces: soft button-downs, worn in jeans and sneakers, because I walk everywhere. I had to really edit my wardrobe when I moved away to college, which made me think critically about the pieces I buy. It’s gotta be super special or a great staple for me to make room for it in my tiny closet!”
Whether art imitates life, or life imitates art, it was made apparent over my time in NYC that the two are undeniably connected in terms of personal style. Perhaps the New York style is spurred by the presence of such rich architecture, history, food and art, or by the inescapable, towering advertising billboards.
All in all, the style I observed throughout the week most often involved chic winter garments paired with other eclectic, unique pieces that could be seen more as the weather warmed up each day. In the financial district, the professional style – particularly that of men – was a step up.
While New York is known for its high fashion lines and runway shows, its many vintage stores, such as Rags-A-Gogo, are also surprisingly influential on the general street style I observed.
NYC, while home to millions of people and host to tourists from around the world, has something for everyone. My parents and I, although separated generationally, were brought together through our mutual interest in soaking up as much from this experience as we could. I myself have overcome some of the commonly held misconceptions of what it means to exist in New York. I thought New Yorkers would be standoffish or cold or too in a hurry to help out a directionally-challenged tourist. When really, so many were willing to help and share info on their personal experiences in NYC. While life in Eugene could now be viewed as duller or simpler, this simplicity is what keeps me coming back.
Words and Photos by Kendra Siebert