New York City Style: Uptown Vs. Downtown

I recently spent a weekend in New York City (oh how I heart that city!) and realized two things.

First, there are a lot of outfits that will fly in New York that, if worn anywhere else, even in our largest cosmopolitan centres of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton, would give people pause that perhaps they had stumbled unknowingly into a costume party (the bikini top as a t-shirt look is a good example).

Second, there’s a distinct style divide between the uptown and downtown Manhattan girl, one that I constantly straddle when deciding what to wear in the morning.

Here’s how they break down. Which one are you?

Uptown

New York City Style: Uptown Vs. Downtownuptown

Uptown girls Cory Kennedy and India de Beaufort

The uptown Manhattanite is usually dressed to the nines, permanently prepped for a meeting, high tea or an impromptu introduction to her boyfriend’s parents.

Think Charlotte York in Sex And The City, Olivia Palermo, Audrey Hepburn, or Gwyneth Paltrow. Wardrobe staples include slim cigarette pants, tailored skirts, silk blouses, diamond or pearl studs, a crisp trench coat, exquisite heels, classic ballet flats and luxurious fur—all from recognized designers to be sure.

Pieces are tailored and classic, never ill-fitting. The uptown girl is perpetually put together, with a great blowout and a demure mani-pedi in Bubble Bath or something similarly unassuming. She is polished, subtle and never causes a scene.

Downtown

New York City Style: Uptown Vs. Downtowndowntown

Downtown girls Leandra Medine and singer Oh Land

By contrast, the downtown girl is all about getting noticed. Think the Olsen twins, Rachel Bilson, Alexa Chung, or The Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine.

She curates her outfits like one would curate a gallery, finding the standout pieces from different collections and mixing them together into one cohesive story.

She is a fearless fashion leader. Favourite items include broken-in denim, motorcycle boots, classic Converse sneakers, soft tees, toques and well-worn leather. The more layers the better (whether it’s scarves, tops or statement jewellery) and cuts are looser and more relaxed.

The downtown girl is a master of bedhead chic and her nails are usually polished, but chipping, in a bold colour like chrome or chartreuse.

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