Public Perverts: Dressing for Subways

July 23, 2014 • Fashion

Naked Girl. That’s what my friend’s sort-of-not-really-boyfriend at the time and everyone in his band called me. They had been rehearsing for some TV performance when we all met—them in their requisite jeans and sneakers, and me in a blue-striped size 14 muumuu likely owned by someone who died of type 2 diabetes in the ‘80s that I had purchased from a thrift store on Highland for $4 and then paid a dry cleaner $15 to take off four feet from the hem, leaving, in effect nothing but a shapeless, accidentally provocative box of nylon. Belted in the center, the dress had an hourglass effect, only the hourglass had no ends with which to keep the proverbial sand in; bend over forward and from the front you saw my tits through the gaping wide neckline, and from the back you’d see nothing but butt cheek. I lived in denial of my happenstance sluttiness until I was shown a photograph revealing all of the dress’ aforementioned weak points. Naked Girl was apropos.

I’ve had to change my ways since moving to New York, where your nip slips are on public display just like those f’ing awful ads for Venmo on the subway walls (LUCAS takes the STAIRS, LUCAS buys a ROUND, LUCAS knows what you DID, LUCAS can see your BOOBIES TOO.). It wasn’t an immediate and natural migration to forced modesty. The learning curve has been difficult and I’ve had my share of failures in this department. But my loss in dignity is your gain in knowledge. I’ve developed a handy dandy guide for dressing appropriately for New York City this summer, one of the only places in the world where you can eat a kale salad and watch a guy jerk off in a towncar across the street at the same time. Yes, it’s the City That Never Sleeps, because it’s always got a boner. Public perverts abound, ladies. So cover up your naughty bits and invest in some calf-grazing circle skirts and turtlenecks, lest you end up with a fiancé from New Jersey who you said yes to simply because it was less difficult than trying to get him to stop hounding you. *

Herewith, a guide.

RULE ONE: Avoid logos, phrases, or any conversation starters

As a parting gift before I moved from Los Angeles, my ex gave me, along with his Costco rolling luggage, my favorite shirt of his: a threadbare tank with “PUT SOMETHING NICE BETWEEN YOUR LEGS” silkscreened on the front, accompanied by an explanatory “BROOKLYN BIKE SHOP” on the back. While this shirt afforded me no problems on the many occasions I wore it in LA, I was forced to recognize its implications on its first New York outing, sitting on the subway, the front of the shirt on display without the rebuttal on the back accessible. So began an awkward 5 minute ride sitting across from an elderly bearded man in his late 40s who kept looking between my face and my shirt, my face and my shirt, my face and my shirt, surely wanting to put something not-so-nice between my legs. Said shirt has since been relegated to my pajama drawer.

RULE TWO : Bras are your best defense

I’m convinced the MTA turns the subways into 35-degree meat lockers on purpose, just to punish women who refuse to wear bras. The last thing you want to do when summer is in full force is put on an extra layer separating you from fresh air. Bras are like putting those fuzzy Nike sweat-collecting headbands around your torso. But get enough people staring at you with your headlights on and you’ll be wanting more than a few extra layers between your nips and their lechery, let me assure you.

RULE THREE: Short at your discretion

So I’m not the best person to consult on this subject, being as I am an avid fan of shorts that double as men’s swim trunks from the ‘50s (Side note: how did they keep everything in there back then? Seriously, ask grandpa. Need to know.) In this department, I’m willing to handle more than the standard abuse in the name of summer tanlines that don’t stop mid-thigh. Sacrifices must be made. I did however recently invest in knee-length shorts that remind me of when my mom used to golf in the late ‘90s, which I’m pretty sure turn zero people on.

RULE FOUR: Wear deodorant… or don’t… I don’t know

I mean, this swings both ways. Pheromones are an unpredictable bitch.

RULE FIVE: Keep white for winter and keep your virginity intact 

While everyone in the Hamptons got their pastel pant, linen button-up, yuppie gear in order, white—one of the season’s yachting wardrobe staples—isn’t always the best shade if you’re one of the poor people (literally and figuratively) stuck in the city sweating it out on the weekend grind. While white is great when you’re getting shuttled around in your friend’s Lambo between Montauk and East Hampton, drinking rose on seats not covered with the filth of the masses, it’s impractical in the city. First, that shit is getting dirty, no ifs ands or buts. Second, you’re closer to see-thru which means closer to naked which means closer to getting eye raped by some sexually repressed businessman en route to work drinks (though maybe that’s your thing). All I know is the time I wore a technically seasonally appropriate white mini-dress so tight you could probably see my ovaries I got hit on by a drunk guy standing outside of a methadone clinic on Bowery.

*No offense to people from New Jersey, especially Jon Stewart, who I love. 

Read more:
Classist Dress and the White Bro Dress Code
Drug Dealer Fashion: Hits and Misses

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