Now that we’re open, let’s talk about clothes.
For 12 weeks, since the coronavirus lockdown began, New Yorkers have been slumming it in their pajamas and sweaty gym attire. They’re “working from home” — yet dressing like slobs. From CEOs and Broadway stars to Wall Streeters and sales clerks, everyone has been united by elastic waistbands and a lack of deodorant.
Time for a Zoom meeting! You open your laptop and are shocked to discover that your boss, who earns in the high six figures, has turned into Grizzly Adams with a grease-stained Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt. Your formerly Type-A co-worker is now the “Hoarders” lady who’s “not sure” of the whereabouts of her 74th cat. We were all in this state of sloth together.
But it must stop. Phase One: Get your s - - t together, guys.
Last Sunday, I took an 8-mile walk down Broadway from Washington Heights to the West Village to survey our city. What did I find? Manhattanites donning dirty sweatpants. Fruit of the Loom tank-tops on men who’ve barely moved in three months. Lots of Lycra, and Crocs for days. Thank goodness landscaping is allowed again, I thought, because one pedestrian’s mop was no longer the purview of a barber.
The buildings were all in tip-top shape, save for some boarded up windows and graffiti. But the spirit of NYC — looking good while not giving a damn — was nowhere to be found.
I realized, for the first time, that clothes define a neighborhood as much as architecture does. What’s Fifth Avenue without suits clutching briefcases sprinting to high-stakes negotiations? In Chelsea, the lack of colorful, formfitting attire revealed that the area isn’t quite so bright without its well-heeled residents and prim waiters. I even shed a tear for the ankle-high white socks of Times Square tourists. Across the city, cult-like tones of gray and beige blanketed passers-by.
On Monday, let’s get dressed.
I’m not saying you’ve gotta run out to Bergdorf’s and get curbside pickup for designer duds, although struggling retailers would probably appreciate the business. Most men who live here already own a button-down or polo shirt. They could unearth — gasp! — some pants from deep inside a drawer or the back of a closet. (Better than that disgusting pair of shorts that hasn’t been washed in weeks.) Many women boast a mountain of lovely skirts, blouses or frocks. And for footwear, stop with the slippers or flip-flops. Snazzy shoes are part of our New York identity as much as pizza and being disappointed by the Mets.
By the way, Twitter, don’t whine at me that it’s summer. Seasons are not some new trend we have to understand and adapt to, like Billie Eilish. We’ve gone through hundreds of oppressively hot Junes, Julys and Augusts — and still managed to stay posh during them.
After all, we live in the fashion capital of the world. We have chosen to inhabit a metropolis that’s both a centuries-old magnet for hot celebrities and an edgy oasis where someone can walk around in overalls from middle school, a lavender wig and thigh-high boots — and appear in glossy magazines.
Right now, however, we are the Arby’s drive-thru window. French fries have spilled all over our laps, and we don’t care.
But we must care. Not caring is a slippery slope toward becoming Los Angeles.