Growing up in Manhattan is one thing. Native New Yorkers come out of the womb wearing Prada and Gucci , right? They find nothing strange about folks that can’t leave the house if their earrings don’t match their skirts.
I, on the other hand, have spent the last three years living in Texas. Although I am originally from San Francisco, New York fashion makes the City by the Bay look like Mandy Moore in Birkenstocks; beautiful, yet fashionably clueless.
But, Texas . . . that’s a whole other can of worms. During my three years at the University of Texas, I grew completely accustomed to seeing students show up to class in PJ bottoms and wife beaters. I didn’t blink an eye when I walked into the (somewhat) classy bars and clubs in town and sat next to a guy in a pair of Levi’s and a cowboy hat. Fashion is just not a priority among most of the folks in Texas. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just not a New York thing. But, then again, who cares about New York when you get your kicks by line dancing and cow tipping?
Hmmm . . . somehow, I decided that Texas might not be my ideal living location, which is why I high-tailed it out of there after graduation.
I knew that I didn’t want to go back to the West Coast (at least not yet), and what better place to be young and single than in the city that never sleeps? Thus, I packed my bags, found a cozy (read: SMALL) studio apartment on the Upper East Side, and spent the next few weeks bonding with my new best friend: Manhattan.
It didn’t take long to learn that people are different here than they are in a small college town. Folks don’t look like they rolled out of bed and picked up the first clothing items they spotted on the floor. They look like they actually gave thought to their daily attire. I felt very out of place in my University of Texas sweatshirt and my three-year-old, I-think-these-were-originally-supposed-to-resemble-the-color-white sneakers.
Along with wardrobe changes, I noticed that jewelry took on a very different meaning than I was used to. I had thought of jewelry as a small token, meant to add a subtle complement to a given outfit. But in New York, it seems that a piece of jewelry is not only significantly bigger and more extravagant, but is also often the focus of an outfit. Never in my life would I have thought I would wear giant, pink, dangly earrings or a jewel-encrusted brooch, the size of my fisted hand, except on Halloween when I was sporting my over-the-top, rich-old-lady costume.
I went back to visit my alma mater not long ago, and brought my New York fashion sense with me. I was so proud of my new look and couldn’t wait to show it off to my less-knowledgeable college friends. However, when they looked at me with my frayed scarf and my giant, butterfly necklace they just stared in disgust and disbelief. I guess you can change a small-town girl with a big city, but you can’t change a small town with a big-city girl.