dispatches from my street(s)

for the fashion and culture voyeur (like, hmmm, myself?), living in manhattan is like living in some sort of haute heaven. you get to see it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

since it’s quick and easy to do, i thought i’d occasionally pass along word of interesting things i see when i am out on walks or even just looking out my window (i live in chelsea). the masses are right outside my door, literally, and they are a fascinating bunch!

when i say interesting things, i mean trends i’ve noticed (large, small, good, bad), the details about clothing and other items i see that are being worn in interesting and innovative ways, and perhaps even cool art/culturally-relevant happenings i have spotted, and things i think are just plain cool. sound good?

btw: what i see and notice may be different from what others in this vast city may notice, or focus on. it’s all good, no? i’m just gonna tell it how i see it!

if i can snap a pic, and include it, i will (but it’s not always possible or easy w/ baby).

so lemme go ahead and kick this off!


recently seen:

-lots of clogs! i’ve always been a fan of this style of footwear, so perhaps my eye is especially attuned to them. anyway: a gal near the southern end of union square caught my eye on 5/7/09 because she was sporting some smart, super shiny gold metallic clogs (something like these). the day before, i spotted a gal who worked at the utrecht art supply store on w. 23rd street wearing black, closed-back clogs (like these danskos), with a pair of cranberry colored woolen tights, a brown straight skirt that hit at the knee, and a worn sweatshirt. maybe it was something about her features and dark hair, but she looked to me like an arty, modern update of the mousy bookshop-marm jo stockton (played by audrey hepburn) in funny face. in a good way. (aside: am i the only one who likes the old, nerdy, wordy version of her better than the new-fangled, vogue-d up version of her in the movie?? haha!)

-what’s the deal with leggings as pants? this is HUGE here. is this happening other places? i don’t remember this being a thing in san fran when i left, to any great degree, not like it is here. also, where is this coming from? my theory has roots in the following: the growing notion that skinny jeans were somehow not skinny enough, that we’ve now got to get as skinny as possible with our pants, even if that means wearing leggings alone; late 80s/early 90s leggings trend redux; it’s grunge all over again. noting that leggings are now worn (again) with ditsy floral baby doll dresses, beat-up shoes, and ill-fitting, oversized denim jackets and the like, i’m leaning especially hard on blaming this trend on the last bit. also: makes me think that the rear-end is having a moment! these leggings as pants are almost always paired with some sort of boot, from very low ankle style ones with laces, to knee high kicks in leather, rubber (hunter’s especially), and sadly (imo) uggs or something of a similar ilk. looks best (in my husband’s opinion, haha!) if the wearer of said leggings as pants is concurrently wearing well-fitting undergarments that don’t cause VPL. i cannot abide by this butt-baring trend, myself, i’m just far too modest. so while i might wear a pair of leggings, my backside will be forever in shadow when i am on the streets!

-beautiful coats/clothing/bags made of “ethnic” textiles: when i first arrived back in town, i saw a girl (the same girl, more than once) in an absolutely stunning brown and black vintage(?) topper, that had a knee-length swing shape, done up in a hand-wrought african barkcloth type of fabric. since then, i’ve been seeing all sorts of other great world-textiles on people, and on racks at nice places, and i like it: a coat made of gorgeous multi-colored woven guatemalan fabric (probably silk); african wax print fabric bags (you can find some @ abc carpet and home); hand-woven sachels like these sunu bags, made by the wayuu of columbia. i want to ask: do you see people wearing fiber art from other countries often where you live? part of me wonders if world textiles are more popular to wear in a place like NYC, where many cultures live and thrive (people have more exposure/access to such things in a hub like this), and/or also, that the wearing of textiles from far-flung nations might make one look well-traveled or at least fairly aware of if not interested deeply the outside world (the world outside of what one knows/lives, even if said hometown is diverse in nature)…


  1. Sal

    I am going to loooove this feature.

    Leggings as pants is definitely happening here in the wilds of MN, too, believe it or else. And I am frightened. I’m inclined to believe the skinny-jeans-aren’t-skinny-enough theory for this reason: I’m on the hunt for a pair of cigarette pants myself, and nothing I find fits closely enough.

    Mind you, I’ll never be bold enough to just don my leggings and a shirt and call it an outifit!

  2. hillary

    I work at a university in Boston and I would dare say half the female population wears “leggings” as pants. Half the time I don’t even think they are technically leggings. I feel like such an old coot wanting to yell “put on some pants!”

    (miss matilda)

  3. Becky

    Recently some designer must have thought, “Well, skinny jeans are huge at the moment and leggings are almost as popular…so why not combine the two together?! We’ll be rich!”

    Resulting in this abomination:

    I’d love to see street fashion photos – some people create the most amazing outfits that simply must be photographed.

  4. Lucy

    Hi there, I found this piece really interesting! The leggings trend is huge here in London at the moment, and interestingly pretty much worn with exactly the same garments, ditzy floral dress and Doc Martin boots are very popular.
    Recently the trend has been for rubber or hologram finish effect leggings, but these seems to be tailing off for various patterned and plain old fashioned cotton in various colours, worn with a man’s large washed out denim shirt and ankleboots.
    Also denim jackets are back on the scene here too, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and in all washes.
    I’m in your camp though, despite the fact I wear my skinny jeans daily, I cant quite bring myself to bare my bottom in leggings, it just feels a little too exposed 😉

  5. Lucy

    Oooh – and also , I nearly forgot – I read this in the newspaper on my way home from work this evening…..there is a growing trend in the UK for what is known as ‘Jeggings’ the hybrid result of jeans and leggings.

    Here is the description as quoted in the article:

    “They are woven to stretch 360 degrees, fitted to act like Spanx on your legs and take inches off the thighs.”

    Sounds a bit like the safe alternative to the legging, with a bit more support!!

  6. anna

    yes! as lucy said, leggings are HUGE in london. & in my area, i see a lot of ethnic prints (in fact i saw a man dressed in a chitenge suit today, complete with hat) – but i live in an area that is second only to queens for ethnic diversity, apparently.

  7. Tamsin

    Leggings as trousers/pants is a massive thing here in the UK too. I live in Nottingham and it’s pretty standard dress.
    I’ve never commented before – your blog is amazing:)

  8. lindsey clare

    i see lots of leggings as pants here in Sydney too. i am a big fan of leggings in general and wear them under skirts and short dresses a lot. but i just don’t think it’s a great look to wear as pants. unless you’re working out, haha.

  9. Hyena In Petticoats

    I’m in Australia, and the leggings as pants thing is happening here too – I’d say it’s my pet hate of the moment! I think it’s an ultimate skinny jean thing, especially as we see leggings printed with jean texture, and w pockets and such….. I wear leggings all the time, mainly because tights are never matte enough and opaque enough for me, but I always have my butt covered! I just don’t see anything remotely attractive about the fit of the bum/waist portion of a legging…. ugh!

    I’m rather fond of the mini grunge comeback though – I was a wee grunge girl in my teenage years, so I get a bit nostalgic seeing wide eyed young things in leggings and ditsy frocks….. plus, I never stopped wearing my Docs!


    Leah xxx

  10. emma

    Here in Michigan the leggings as pants is huge as well – living in a college town often means we are saturated with various trends. I personally despise how wearing leggings alone looks! I too wear leggings, however, they are always under a skirt/dress….I also have recently been wanting to get a pair of brightly colored clogs. I am loving these that I found: http://www.oaknyc.com/women/womens-shoes/swedish-clogs-red

  11. Sara Vee

    Leggings as pants are HUGE in Toronto too. Brutal. And lots of too-thin leggings at that!

    Great idea for a column by the way, can’t wait for the next entry.


  12. Rhiannon

    I love this post too! I always enjoy reading what you have to say about trends and styles . .. that bit about the skinny jean trend turning into a leggings-as-pants one is especially interesting and really makes sense! Though I’m with you . . . I’d feel naked with just a little shirt and a pair of leggings.

  13. caroline

    I’m not sure why, but I’m really loving your descriptions without photos. Maybe it’s that the internet is so overloaded with images…but it’s nice to have the description alone and let my brain do the imagining. Very good stuff.

  14. Lilia

    I love this post! So funny and SO true about the leggings (also in sydney, australia)

    I think it’s acceptable as long as it looks like you’re making SOME kind of effort to cover half..by half I mean top half of bum :).

    I agree with caroline about descriptions without photos. Your words paint pretty pictures!

  15. jani

    Hey Tricia,
    I know a lot of people love Audrey Hepburn and her style in old movies, but this is so cool & I love this about you!
    … Since the first time I saw Audrey Hepburn in ‘Funny Face’,(many, many years ago!) I have been thinking about her in that ‘dowdy’ jumper she’s wearing in the bookstore! I designed one myself, buttons down the front or slip-over the head, I have even sewed one or two! She is the coolest beatnik of that era, and the epitome of chic, especially in the ‘Before’ part of the movie!

  16. Franca

    Yup, leggings as trousers are everywhere in Scotland too.

    On trend that I have noticed recently is that beards are back in a big way. I’ve even seen a few guys wearing moustaches, and am keeping my fingers crossed that that doesn’t take off completely. Thankfully my parter is not a fan of facial hair either, but I’ve already told him that if he ever tries to grow anything, I’ll spike his drink with sleeping pills, so I can shave it all off while he’s sleeping.

    I agree with caroline about the descriptions without pictures (the one of the funny face girl in particular took my fancy). It’s a lesson for all bloggers (myself included)!

  17. ali

    Leggings have been a constant in the UK for the last couple of years. The fashion mags keep telling us other stuff is in and leggings are out, but everybody just keeps wearing them, just like Ugg boots.

  18. rachel s.

    Hey Tricia! Welcome back to NYC!!! (belatedly)

    Not really a fan of the leggings-as-pants thing either. I keep seeing women in leggings that really look a lot more like pantyhose. I saw one woman outside Penn station in black “leggings” that were stretched so tightly across her rear that you could see straight through them. Hrrrrrm…. TMI, imo.

    (But I’m a fuddy duddy sometimes)

  19. Allison

    The leggings thing is definitely big here in Minneapolis too. Ugh. And I agree! I will wear leggings as long as my butt is not bared! I just dont think its flattering on anyone…

    Also, I dont know about San Fran so much, bu in LA its HUGE. I really think thats wear the leggings-as-pants really took place, and EXPLODED. SoCal style now, for sure.