Required Reading. Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I favour a relatively monochromatic wardrobe. While I’m not an all-black-all-the-time kind of gal, my version of colour tends to be more like grey and denim than anything else. So, I loved reading this piece on why New Yorkers have long favoured black. Guys, it’s a good look. Seriously. And frankly, if this style of dressing has the fringe benefit of making me look like I might belong in New York, I am 100% okay with that. Because, as Amy Larocca writes in this article, “we are, in a sense, with the band. The band is New York, and the color is black.”
In Funny Face, Kay Thompson (doing her Diana Vreeland imitation) rides the elevator to her high-up Manhattan office. “Think pink, think pink!” she announces. “Now, I wouldn’t presume to tell a woman what a woman ought to think, but tell her: If she’s gotta think, think pink!” When will you start wearing pink? she is asked. “Me?” she says. “I wouldn’t be caught dead.”
And that’s how it is. In New York, we make culture and then we export it. We are too knowing to endlessly buy in, and so we wear black, a neat backdrop that keeps us from getting distracted (and allows us to navigate the fact that so many of us do not have easy access to a washing machine and the place where we live is dirty and grimy and gray). If you have moved to New York City and you’d like to signal that fact to your friends back home, you can do this very easily and simply by wearing black. Lou Reed used to wear only black, and Laurie Anderson still does. If you look at the front row of a fashion show, you’ll notice that Grace Coddington wears only black, and at the end of a fashion show, you’ll notice that the designer — Michael Kors, Alexander Wang — takes a bow wearing all black, too.
We wear black because it’s slimming in a city that overvalues slimness. And because it confers a no-nonsense power, and we’re certainly interested in that. We wear black because it’s sexy — possibly the legacy of lingerie. We wear black because we’re not tourists here to see a show; because we are, in a sense, with the band. The band is New York, and the color is black.