Why I Think Brooklyn Is a Lot Less Stylish Than It Thinks

Jessica Schiffer

In the past 10 years, Brooklyn has transitioned rapidly from being the butt of New York City’s perpetual joke to rising up as a locale with even more cool factor than Manhattan. New Yorkers may still complain about the trek to get to this outer borough, but once they actually arrive, they’re unlikely to deny having a really good time.

See, there’s something pared-down about Brooklyn that can feel refreshing amidst the gritty glamour and constant chaos of Manhattan. People prefer dive bars over clubs, thrift stores over chains, and so on. This same vibe permeates the "style" of Brooklyn, which was—in its early stages—essentially a revolt against traditional ideas of style itself. The casual workwear that longtime residents of Brooklyn preferred was the antithesis of “stand out”—the motto was more along the lines of: blend in, be easy.

When young 20-somethings began moving there in droves for the sake of cheaper rents, they put a hipster spin on what was already there, sprinkling it with occasional splashes of neon, graphic T-shirts, and all the flannel they could find. The look was different than the all-black-everything cult of New York City; it seemed to take itself less seriously—for a minute, at least.

But now, with what has ultimately been the branding of Brooklyn, all of that originality, that could-care-less façade, has changed. You get off the L train in Williamsburg (Brooklyn’s hotspot) and everyone looks like a version of everyone else, each person angling to be just a little more hip than the rest. Boys wear a strict uniform of workman’s lace-up boots with deep-dyed raw denim, oscillating between plaid wool flannels or chambray button-downs. Girls either go the edgy route in all black—ripped skinny jeans, Doc Martens, leather jackets—or take the granola-laden path in boyfriend jeans, vintage ankle boots, and organic (yes, organic) T-shirts. There’s rarely any in-between.

So what’s wrong with that, exactly? Well, the overwhelming sense that Brooklyn bows down to… itself. As a Brooklynite myself, I’ve been privy to countless discussions regarding Brooklyn’s stylish superiority, how the people are cooler because they “don’t care.” Well to that I say: HA. Because if the collective cared so little, would we all be dressing so alike? Wouldn’t we, instead, be open to a little more sartorial indulgence? Accepting of those around us who dare to be dolled-up?

After all, fashion’s core is not about fitting in, and "stylish" is usually a title worthy of those who stray from the mainstream path.

Do you think of Brooklyn as stylish? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Explore: Brooklyn, hipster

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