1. “It’s not my style, I think you look a little crazy,” is what one woman told me between drags of her cigarette. She was 35ish, outfitted in sweats and supremely interested in the air directly behind me, which I respected.
I had run into her while I was wandering around Nolita in a colorful getup plucked straight from the imagination of Leandra Medine. See above for a skirt over pants and elaborate ribbon contraptions parading as shoes. My purpose? To essentially accost people for their unabashed opinions. Why? Amazing question.
The short answer is Leandra made me do it. This has happened before. The long answer is we talk a lot about communicating with our clothes here at Man Repeller, but how often do we really know what we’re saying? Or rather, what people are hearing? It was time to break the fourth wall and let the spectators do the talking for once.
Q for the people of Nolita! What’s your first impression of this outfit?
2. “You have a lot of style. You’ve got to have confidence to wear that,” one hip dude told me through his diamond grill. “I work in style, though, so I look at things differently. I don’t like the jeans under the skirt but I think you pulled it off pretty effortlessly. The Coveteur would think you’re killing it.” I asked if he worked at The Coveteur and he said no. Jury’s out, then, on why in the world he said that. My ego liked him immensely regardless.
3. “Uh, it looks like you made it,” a youngish construction worker told me. He meant in the craft project way, in case you weren’t sure. “I’m not really into that hipster stuff,” he explained. “I just like black and gray.”
4. One 65-year-old British woman begged to differ. “It’s really nice!” she told me as she breezed past towards the several better things she clearly had to do (in a cool way). “Just really nice. Colorful! Not crazy, very very colorful.” Thank you and love you and see you later!
5. & 6. Bless these older/wiser people. “Exciting,” is how one middle-aged man from the Midwest described my entire look. His wife: “My first impression is WOW. New York!” Loved her a lot.
7. This was precious: A Danish man in his 70s said I looked happy. My eyes lit up. “In other towns, you’d look crazy,” he said. My eyes narrowed. “But not in New York. In New York you look happy.” Eyes lit up! This was an emotional roller coaster.
8. The backhanded compliments were coming in hot. A young barista with a Spanish accent told me, “It’s really cute. I love the colors. It’s really fall. You look like a blogger. ” I asked what he meant. “Like maybe you’re trying a little hard. But it’s good. The glasses remind me of a disco ball.”
Let’s discuss that in ten. I’m still processing.
9. Another kid on his lunch break accused me of peacocking. “I noticed you down the block,” he said, “But for me peacocking isn’t bad, it’s a cool thing. You were naturally standing out, in a good way.”
Side-eye award goes to the teens.
10. “Uh, I like it,” a young woman in a leopard coat tentatively said. “The shoes are really rad. The pants under the skirt is a little weird, but not in a bad way. When I first saw you I thought you were fashion-forward and adventurous.” Fashion-forward sounds like a cool thing to be! Adventurous, too. I’ll take both.
11. The pant-skirt combo continued to prove controversial, though. “First instinct is I really like the colors,” a girl told me from the confines of a cool yellow coat. “I was like ‘YES! People wearing colors on a gray rainy day!’ But then I saw the jeans-skirt combo and I was like ‘Hmmmm…’ It would totally be an A+ look in my book if you didn’t have the jeans.”
Totally fair. I liked her a lot. She had braces. So throwback.
12. Here’s a conversation I had with an Australian man, who was also concerned about the pants:
Him: I’m getting 1970s.
Me: In a good way or a bad way?
Him: In a weird way.
Me: Would you change anything?
Him: Uh yeah, probably everything.
Me: Oh my god I love that. Why?
Him: It’s just ridiculous!
Me: Is it the pants?
Him: Yes. And the skirt. The shoes too. And the glasses. The sweater is okay.
Me: So you think I’m a crazy person?
Him: Um, not crazy. Maybe just lacking fashion sense.
What’s actually crazy is how unsure I am about whether he’s right.
13. “You look awesome. Super styled!” said an older Isreali grandmother whom I now consider family. “It looks like you put a lot of thought into it, that’s the truth. I love love love love love the shoes, I really do. It looks like you made an effort. We come from Israel where originality is really really respected!” My cheeks flushed, my heart swelled, we’re having dinner this weekend.
14. & 15. The last conversation was my favorite though.
“I love it. It’s absurd. It’s a little ‘fashion victim’ but so am I!” said a woman wearing all black, clear frames and a leather jacket. “I mean, I don’t think you’ll get laid but you do look fun! You know what I mean? Like if I were a guy I totally wouldn’t fuck you.” I started laughing as she turned to her friend and asked what he thought.
“It’s awesome. It’s great. It’s a Thing, capital ‘T,'” he said from inside his drop-crotch shorts. “I mean, it could be a Thang but I think it’s a Thing,” I nodded because this somehow made sense. “The jeans definitely turned it into something. It’s confusing in all the right ways-”
“Who do you write for?” the woman cut in. I told her.
“Man Repeller? You ARE a Man Repeller! You are embodying the namesake!”
Styled by Leandra Medine; photos by Krista Anna Lewis.