Style in the City

Someone once said “It’s not what you wear; It’s how you wear it.” Well, many people have said that, including me, when I realized soon after arriving in New York City that street style here is 95% how you put an outfit together. (And maybe 5% that you’re wearing somewhat serviceable clothing, and not, say, a meat suit).

This realization was a positive development for me because it means there isn’t a need to spend big dollars on any piece of clothing, which is in line with my general way of shopping and dressing. I have yet to be walking around (correction: power walking faster than I ever have before because that’s what I do here, even though I’m rarely in a rush) and had my eyes drawn to a $2,000 bag, a pair of red-bottomed Louboutins, or a Hermes scarf. I have, however, stuck my gaze on men and women on the street for longer than I should to get a closer look at how they tied their (not expensive-looking) scarves or how a man paired a casual-looking vest under a much dressier suit.

I have all the things I need in my closet now to put together smashing New York City looks. I’ve got tops, I’ve got bottoms, I’ve got dresses, shoes, and accessories. I’ve got enough enormous fall sweaters to make me look like the most stylish bag lady around. I even have a necklace that looks like two snakes making love.

Last week, I accompanied Mr.YemenEm to an event where some big names in the government were speaking. I don’t work for the government so I feel no need to wear dark suits. Plus, this is New York City, the fashion capital of the U.S. So, I took a little risk and wore my new fuchsia vintage wool pencil skirt (scored for – I kid you not – .79 cents at a Salvation Army in Michigan) with a mustard yellow silk blouse and some tasteful leopard pumps. Needless to say, my bright outfit seriously stood out in a room of dark suits. Washington had descended upon this particular venue and the inhabitants were mutedly wearing the District’s official colors: Black, Navy, and Grey.

Was I secretly hoping that Michelle Obama would spot me and be like “I love your skirt, where did you get it?” and I’d get to tell her about my amazing thrift store find and she’d be like “Girl, we simply must go bargain shopping in New York together. Are you free tomorrow?” Yes. Did that happen? Obviously not, otherwise this blog post would be called “Best TJ Maxx Trip Ever!!!” and include a photo lineup of Michelle O and I modeling sleeveless tops for each other.

I’m probably a little too enthusiastic about sharing my bargains with others. Many times people have told me that they like something I’m wearing or have in my apartment and when I tell them the discount store/online sale/back alley Dumpster that brought that item in to my life, at least 50 percent of the time, they look disgusted rather than impressed.

“I like your couch.”

“Oh, this? It was my dead neighbor’s. His family put all of his stuff on his lawn after he died and my mom hauled it home and recovered it in white denim.”

“That sweater is so cute!”

“Oh this, I know, right? Way too nice for a baby rat’s nest in Dupont Circle, which is what it was being used for when I found it.”

Okay, that last one was made up, but probably not too far from reality. I love me a bargain and the only thing better than a bargain is free.

To being inspired by your city’s fashion/to finding a great bargain,



  1. Hi Emily-Grandma and I loved your story! You’ll be proud of me, I’m packing my “faux fur” pencil skirt (Tocca $$$$)…that I got at a garage sale in Harbor Springs for $25.00! I got it 5 years ago, but have never worn it…you’ve inspired me….I’ll see what other thrift store clothes I can pack for my trip….I I’m wearing a pair of green designer cords I got for $32.00 at a Plymouth Resale Shop yesterday…coincidentally, I had just sold $32.00 worth of clothes they were basically free! I too love a deal….remember my House and Garden Book that’s listed for $400.00 that I got for $5.00 at the Plymouth Library Book Sale! Aunt Patty

    Sent from my iPad

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