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March 04, 2004 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-04

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16B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, March 4, 2004

NYC blends offbeat
with everyday flair

By Raquel Laneri
Daily Arts Writer

The Village - the "artistic" sec-
tion of New York, the East Coast's
haven of poetry read-
ings and avant-garde
jazz clubs,
where
col -
1 ege

students, gays, misfits and all those
others on the fringes of mainstream
society have long sought refuge -
is becoming normal. Or maybe
uptown Manhattan's getting weird.
Either way, the
huge chasm
that once
e x i s t e d
between
experi -
mental

0

G
-;_
_ .: .
.

downtown and classic uptown is
diminishing-most prominently
exemplified in the fashions of the
two places.
I have many memories of visiting
the Village and SoHo when I was
younger, observing, with wide-eyed
wonder, the bright blue hair and
tight plaid pants on the teenagers
hanging out at Washington Square. I
remember noticing the eyebrow,
tongue and nose rings decorating
the faces of shoppers at cluttered
used-CD shops, or older
male couples in pink
shirts and berets, walking
hand-in-hand.
It's not that the Village
has become bland; it's
just that its inhabitants
are no longer so extreme
and defiant. They haven't
succumbed to the main-
stream but have adopted
certain classic staples and
incorporated them into their
dress, without completely
losing their flair. Likewise,
swanky uptown inhabitants
have acknowledged their
downtown neighbor's eye for
fashion and have borrowed
some of its trends. The result: a
wonderful hodgepodge of jux-
taposing patterns and styles
thrown together for an inter-
esting, if not entirely weird,
style characterizing both areas.
For example, many people would
add one brightly-colored or quirky
item to an otherwise bland outfit to
create an unsettling, mismatched
effect: A bright-purple striped hat
draws attention to a guy wearing a
preppy grey pea coat and brown
cords; a '20s-inspired knit hat with
a pink flower attached to it spices
up a dull color scheme; straight-
legged jeans and a conservative
cloth tote are set off by an out-
landish cow-print coat.
Speaking of coats, coats or blaz-
ers often would act as the focal
point of an outfit - come on, it'd
be no fun if we only wore coats for
the functional purpose of keeping
warm. Here again, it's the details
added to pretty standard styles that
give these outerwear their unique-
ness: a hook-and-eye closure
adorned with ruffles replaces the
usual zipper or buttons on a snug,
purple corduroy jacket, or a fur col-
lar and trimming adds drama to a
classic, tweed coat.
Blazers and short jackets are
huge and add great contrast when
mixed with materials and quite
opposite styles. A tan, vintage vel-
vet blazer is thrown over a T-shirt
and Puma track pants. A more mas-
culine, striped corduroy one is
worn with a flowy pink skirt and
dainty heels. A classic denim jack-
et and rugged Ugg boots ground a
neon orange skirt.

Left: Accessories make the outfit: Here, pink shoes offset a drab winter ensemble.
Above: Boots are a hit regardless of the weather.
Below: I'm too sexy for my Puma track pants. So sexy it hurts.

Actually, the less an outfit matches,
the better. Pair torn-up jeans with a
sequined top, rough corduroy with
feminine lace, cowboy boots with
an elegant dress, polka dots with
stripes, plaid with fur - the
possibilities are endless.
In an age when rock musi-
cians and glamorous actors rub
shoulders, where women appear in
menswear on the runway, where the
term "metrosexual" has been accept-
ed into everyday vocabulary, where
sorority girls wear studs in their
noses and huge glasses are consid-
ered sexy, it's no surprise that under-
ground fashion is turning up in the
mainstream, and vice versa. Lines of
distinction in virtually everything -
gender, sexuality, labels, classifica-
tions - are becoming blurred. It only
makes sense that the distinction
between avant-garde and mainstream
fashion is obscuring as well.
Of course, not everyone blends the
edgy and the classic in such innova-
tive ways. There is a slew of design-
er-bag-carrying, tight-blue-jean-and-
button-down-Oxford-shirt-wearing
women with fake tans infiltrating the
bars at the Village and frequenting at
the Au Bon Pain by Washington
Square. But if you know where to
look, you can see how the Village,
despite toning down, has managed to
maintain its notoriously individualis-
tic and unconventional attitude,
meanwhile making the Uptown fash-

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