A Decisively Unsexy Summer

by Tiffany Press

Photo by Alija/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Alija/iStock / Getty Images

I was in Whole Foods one a recent warm day and spotted a Jenner and a Baldwin walking arm in arm towards the body section.

 In grand NYC tradition I pretended I didn’t see them so they could spend the rest of their day disappointed by the random girl in Whole Foods’ lack of enthusiasm. They were dressed in typical Instagram friendly fashion, butt cheek length white denim shorts, idol worship t-shirts with bright colored designer bras showing, and overpriced status bags. It got me thinking about the true New York influencers vs the billboard influencers who have come to be synonymous with eternal youth and skin. In a season defined by suggestive clothes, the new icons suggest almost everything but sex.

Retailers like Nasty Gal and their insidious plot to expose our navels are thwarted by girls with a talent for glamorizing what would otherwise be awkward fashion.

There was a time when there were seemingly two options in NYC when the weather became unbearably hot. Choose to not care how you look at all (*sigh* normcore) or be as cute and as naked as legally possible

Figures such as consultant Yasmin Sewell, casting director Natalie Joos and the patron saint of the decisively unsexy Leandra Medine have given us our cues on how to have a progressive sense of style in 85-degree weather. Brands such as Reformation, COS, and Other Stories are giving a whole new world of options for the grown-up girls with a penchant for Medine style diaper shorts over the Jenner style denim panty. 

While no one would classify Lena Dunham as a style deity or progressive in any way, she is the new representation much of America identifies with New York ‘girls’. The profile of the girl in New York has broadened. The icons referenced here, always existed, and they always had their special brand of fashion identity but our willingness to let them inspire us is due in part to the changing expectations of fashion and sexuality in the city.

It’s not normcore. There’s nothing about these girls that imply they don’t want to stand out

It’s not European or even American. It is unequivocally New York. It prioritizes architecture and unorthodox staples. It has an adult sense of humor, whimsy. It has that element of blatant defiance and creative liberty that defines this city as a whole. Essentially, it’s Jenna Lyons in high water culottes and red lipstick.

So what is the math of this new-ish, whimsical, fiercely forward template? First, you need to have a sense of your body. Just because sex isn’t the main ingredient doesn’t mean your body is not a factor. It is summer after all. Like most women, I went through a summer maxi dress phase. Then there was that day a stranger in a deli on St. Mark's asked me if had an early wedding I was going to. I lied and said yes and never wore a summer maxi dress again. It clearly looks like a gown on me. Know your proportions. Second, think outside of the box when it comes to matching patterns and colors. You have zero layering options in the summer so express your options through unexpected combinations. Very rarely can you mix two beautiful prints in colors that compliment you and it go wrong. No matter how poorly they seem to match. So few people try it but it works. Lastly and most importantly, this is your chance to lose your freaking mind on accessories. You will no doubt be surrounded, I mean drowning in sundresses. Everything from Forever 21 to Chloe. You will succumb to the NYC sundress. It’s inevitable. The only way to differentiate and inject personality is to mess it up a little, throw in an unorthodox staple. Exaggerated rubber platform sandals, a clip on collar, a pirate headscarf. Think way out of the Coachella box. These three factors only account for 50% of the aesthetic. The other half comes from sheer self-awareness. Do the things you love but don’t make sense.  Let your freak flag fly. Be you in ways that haven’t necessarily translated to summer before - and if being you means being naked as a urban jaybird then hell go for that too.