1. “You look like something that I would have liked to eat at age four,” a mysterious woman croaked from behind a beautiful mess of curls. “Some disgusting confectionary item…”
Just kidding, that was Harling Ross, Man Repeller’s social media editor. I dragged her onto the streets of Soho yesterday to accompany me in asking strangers what they thought of my outfit. She didn’t really croak (she’s 25!!!) but she really did say that, and the curls are real, trust me.
Last fall, when Leandra dressed me in a rainbow leather skirt and two Christmas ribbons for shoes, most people said I looked like the realization of the company I purported to work for. So when I set out yesterday in an oversized periwinkle robe, red yoga pants and a bedazzled tiara — another of Leandra’s sartorial concoctions — for round two, I was poised for a lot worse. But out of the gate, it wasn’t so bad.
2. “You look chic,” a bored-seeming guy around my age remarked, surprising us both. “Everybody looks crazy here. I’m from Brooklyn, so I see it all the time.” I found this less complimentary. I asked if he thought my tiara was a little over-the-top and his response was that I looked okay aside from the tiara, which I took as a yes.
3. “You want to repel men? Why would you want to do that?!” laughed a French woman in her 60s upon hearing where I worked. “I thought you were wearing a pajama top and yoga pants and you were too lazy to get dressed so you threw on a robe and ran down for coffee and cigarettes.” Only she could come up with such an elegant PJ narrative on the fly. She was not, she confessed, a fan of the tiara. This would be a theme.
4. & 5. Two delivery men in their thirties said I looked completely normal and seemed almost confused by the question. “It goes together. It’s colorful,” one offered when pressed. “It’s Soho,” the other shrugged. “To be honest, I just thought you were a regular person in New York. People dress like that every day.”
Harling and I struggled to mask our surprise. Were we blind to all the people floating around Soho in unicorn-esque getups?
6. “I like extravagant things, so I like it.” A European guy in his 30s smoking a cigarette outside of Saint Ambroeus said. “I think you’re cool.”
Pocketed that one. He even had an earring.
7. & 8. “Alice in Wonderful,” said a guy who looked around the same age. He swore he had an interest in fashion and asked we not judge him for his hat (I liked it, for the record). “If I saw you on the street, you’d have an equal probability of being totally fucking nuts or a super-sharp eccentric.” I didn’t disagree.
Then his friend jumped in with this gem: “Well, Vetements exists now so your outfit could be worth $10 million and we wouldn’t even know…”
9. “I like it,” one tourist offered, not totally convincingly. His wife didn’t speak English but he translated that she enjoyed my pajama style in particular. She wore a silk blazer just yesterday, he said. Then he made me and his wife pose for a photo. I hope they hang it on their fridge or something.
10. A man who looked to be in his 40s and who Harling and I concluded was about to engage in some sort of heist said he didn’t think I looked kooky. “Honest opinion? I like it okay. It looks fine to me.” Then his phone rang, he jumped and we skedaddled faster than he could put on his ski mask.
11. “Can we ask you guys a quick question?” Harling.
“How quick is it going to be?” asked an 85-year-old jokester with floofy white hair and a khaki bomber.
“Ten seconds!” Me.
“That’s too long!” We laughed and asked what he thought of my outfit. “I looked at you with just my left eye and I had to turn away! I was about to say to my friend, ‘What is she dressed for, Halloween!? Look at the outfit on this young lady!'”
Harling and I were utterly charmed.
“I tell ya,” he went on. “Women can get away with anything! I couldn’t wear it, but women can wear anything!”
Then he lectured us for five to seven minutes about what Bushwick was like 20 years ago and then turned to Harling, unwarranted: “What’s your outfit?”
“Oh I’m not wearing anything special,” she said.
“You look worse than her!!!!” He scream-laughed. We died.
12. & 13. Next we stopped two ladies, 20-ish, who were from out of town. “Hmmm…” They were both stalling, a little nervous. “It’s okay if you think it’s silly,” I reassured them. “Yeah because it is!!!” they both said at once, relieved. I couldn’t have scripted it.
“It’s fancy pajamas meets workout meets guy shoes,” one said, suddenly brazen. “I don’t hate it but I wouldn’t wear it.”
“I wouldn’t wear it, either. You look like you’re part of the hipster movement.”
14. “I was just looking at you and thinking, ‘Oh that’s an amazing outfit!'” said a cool girl in her 20s. I might be biased: She was wearing a sequin beret, a plaid tartan midi skirt, purple lipstick and tortoiseshell glasses. “I have to say this is maybe one of the best outfits I’ve seen in a while.” (K, now I’m really biased.) She even liked the tiara!
15. & 16. Two women in their 60s were smoking on a stoop in Little Italy and flirting with a pizza delivery guy when we stopped and asking them for their thoughts. “Well, you’re wearing a Victoria’s Secret pajama top that I own,” the first offered. “But you fit in! Upper East or West Side? You’d look off. In this area? You fit perfectly, no one pays attention.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s bad but only because you’re pretty,” the other tossed out between puffs. So cool.
“Well your colors are a little springy,” the first jumped back in. “Whats up with the tassels? Oh it’s like a Chinese New Year’s outfit…”
“Maybe if the jacket were fitted…like a fitted blazer?” Puff.
Soon the topic of me was dropped as they were both utterly enamored by Harling’s earrings.
17. & 18. The teens weren’t feeling it. “It looks…comfy?”
“You think I look weird,” I offered.
“Yes!!!” They laughed.
“You wouldn’t wear something like this?”
“No!!!” More giggles.
They agreed it looked like a costume, the tiara in particular. They said I looked like I was attending a slumber party, which — let the record show — isn’t an aesthetic I’m opposed to.
The people of Nolita proved to be less inspired.
Styled by Leandra Medine; photos by Krista Anna Lewis. Ovâssave kimono, The Sleeper silk shirt, Outdoor Voices leggings, Erickson Beamon tiara, Rejina Pyo sunglasses, Manolo Blahnik loafers, Darner X Mona Moore velvet socks