“The Style Tribes of New York as Told by Subway Stations” by Christine Göös
Tell me your stop and I can describe the contents of your closet.
Before I began my personal quest to move to New York and consequently, discovered Brooklyn, my fashion experience of the city was limited to the sock-in-sandal, fanny pack clad crowds of Times Square. The stylish New Yorkers lived merely in my mind, illustrated by too many Sex and the City reruns and street style bloggers leaping across the streets of SoHo in printed dresses and impossibly high stilettos. Yellow cab as a standard backdrop – of course.
Then I moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The epitome of the post-hipster and the dictionary entry for gentrification. The home to the avocado toast, creative crowd, and overpriced denim.
Williamsburg is also the first stop of our journey: Bedford Avenue on the L train.
If you catch the train outside the rush hour, this station is outfit stalking gold. The first rule of the Brooklynites? Don’t look like you care too much. It’s the Parisian casualness mixed in with the I just got off a tour bus -aesthetic.
Band tees and statement canvas totes are encouraged, but don’t let the scruffy exterior fool you. It’s all indie labels or vintage. Both will cost you big bucks.
The Brooklyn tribe is all about monochrome; they’ll sport anything from black, pitch-black, inky-black, deep-black, coal-black, or to mix it up a little, the darkest possible shade of gray. Throw in a pair of crotch-murdering mom jeans and you’re good to go.
The summer variation of the L train uniform is all-white until Labor Day: wide-leg, cropped jeans ($$$), a Madewell t-shirt, a bandana wrapped around the neck, and Birkenstocks. Yes, they’re still here.
Our next stop: we’re taking the N/Q/R lines to midtown Manhattan.
By the time I transfer at Union Square to hop on the trains leading uptown, the crowd splits into a sea of distinct styles. This is my favorite part of the commute.
Athleisure is the official attire for those not chained to the nine-to-five. These women are basic in its truest notion. Color-blocked Outdoor Voices leggings and SoulCycle tees, loosely braided hair and an iced tea in hand (Starbucks Venti). No sweat in sight, she hasn’t taken a class all year.
You’ll also spot the Quirky-Cool at Union Square. She works a chic job in publishing or fashion and has that Instafamous air about her. She’s the girl with bleached hair and eyebrows. Off-the-shoulder dress shirt (pale blue) with brocade shorts and Gucci slip-ons. The furrier the better. She’s heading midtown, but could very well be part of the Man Repeller tribe in Nolita.
Then there’s the quintessential Bryant Park gang, tailored to the capital T with head-to-toe Banana Republic. Sheath dresses in coral, neutrals, or florals in the summer. Goyard tote bags that cost half of their monthly salary. Their perfectly coiffed blow-dry bounces around as they strut down Fifth in their Tory Burch ballet slippers. The adventurous ones might change into nude pumps at the office.
For the sake of nostalgia, let’s ride a few extra stops on the way back home. We’ll find ourselves on the Jefferson stop in Bushwick. It’s the new cradle of bohemia that I happened to call home for a few months.
The latino-turned-artist neighborhood is an eclectic mix of dollar store chic and thrift store scavengers. Green hair is preferred. Experimental makeup is encouraged regardless of the gender. Walk the streets on a weekend night and you’ll bump into the party crowd heading to House of Yes: leotards, feathers, wings, spandex – anything goes. This is Burning Man on steroids.
No matter which tribe you claim yours, this city offers inspiration unparallelled to any influencer, blog, or television show. It has turned me into a person who hinges a little closer at the subway platform just to take a better look at an interesting outfit. Creepy? Perhaps. Entertaining? Most certainly.
Words by Christine Göös
Photo credits: Camilo Jose Vergara, A Woman on the Subway, New York, 1970