Black Dress, Big City Summer Style

Black dress downtown fashion

There’s a stereotype about New Yorkers. That we only where black or monochrome. That we are somber dressers, no matter what the season. I have another take on it: in the summer I crave fashion simplicity. I start stockpiling basics, like black and grey t-shirts and tank tops, and look to pair them with one classic statement piece.

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On a recent trip to San Francisco, at a boutique in the Mission called Bell Jar, I came across my signature summer piece: a pleated, mid-length skirt black skirt with a satiny finish. The kicker? It has pockets! I don’t usually go for mid-calf skirts, but this one has such a flattering cut, it’s perfect. It also goes well with casual shoes (Converse!) or dressy (strappy black sandals or pointy toe patent leather flats). It plays both ways, which is perfect for summer.

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I recently started working downtown and discovered a newly renovated pier at the South Street Seaport. I was doing some writing there with some friends the other evening, and taken in by the post-summer storm, golden hour light, we couldn’t resist snapping these pictures of me vamping like a stylish siren among the wandering tourists.

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Falling for the Color Block

J Crew shirt, Zara jeans, Ben Simon Sneakers, Cachemire et Soie for Jimmy Fairly sunglasses, and my mom's vintage leather tote from LL Bean

When I first saw colored denim appear on the fashion blogs earlier this year I thought to myself, “Ooh, noo, the 90’s really are back with a vengeance.” The last time I wore colored denim (dark green to be exact) was in 1992. It was the year I bought Nirvana’s Nevermind album on cassette and felt really cool about that. I also got my first pair of Converse All Stars, which I quickly found out you cannot wear in the Maine winter and expect to have dry feet at the end of the day. I bought a pair of Airwalk shoes too (before they were made by Payless), but claimed I was “not a poser” even though I didn’t skate. Not being a poser was very important in the early 1990’s.

I never stopped wearing Converse and still proudly sport an American made pair I acquired at a clothing swap in Portland, Oregon in 2001 (may they buck the trend of Converse and never wear out!). However, I quickly abandoned colored denim and have stuck with straight leg, dark wash jeans since the mid-1990’s.

A Flate White from Cafe Grumpy to match my color block

Well, Nirvana’s albums are being re-released as fancy re -issues (I still have my battered cassette), Converse are now being made by Nike in Asia and are all the rage with the high fashion set, and colored denim is back. I really held out. No way was I going to be running around like some poser in skinny, bright pink jeans this spring. But I kept seeing them on the blogs and on the street. And they looked good!

Essie "Braziliant" and "Super Bossa Nova" to extend the color block to the tips of my fingers and toes

I think I finally cracked when I was offered a pair of dusky rose jeans at a clothing swap. They were a way to ease my way back into colored denim. Finally, I decided that one of my two major purchases for the fall would be pink or red jeans. I looked at J Brand. So nice. So out of my budget. I ordered a pair of knock-off red denim from Asos. They didn’t fit and felt too much like jeggings. Finally, I took a late-evening wander through SoHo and tried on every pair of pink, orange or red pants that Zara had to offer. I found them. Skinny. Denim. Bright, dark pink. And on sale! My Ben Simon’s may win out over my Converse as a shoe pairing, but I guess the dream of the 1990’s is still alive in my adult fashion choices.