It’s true, I moved to Brooklyn. Specifically, Fort Greene — an area that my 22-year-old self would have referred to as “too far for drinking on a weeknight.” I’ve been a faithful little Manhattanite since I was a kid on the Upper West Side, but Brooklyn starts to grow on you in funny ways. Its literary scene, its slow food restaurants, its tree-lined blocks — they extend these little tendrils across the East River and start to pull you over with promises of lower rents and words like “community.”
It doesn’t hurt that the quality of the shopping here has increased exponentially in the last five years: the smattering of shops along Court Street and Atlantic Avenue has made Cobble Hill a trove for great finds, and spots like Bird have garnered the kind of cult status that any village boutique would kill for. In my neighborhood alone, it’s hard to walk past Stuart & Wright and Thistle & Clover without buying something (even in a recession).
But the transition hasn’t been without its hiccups. Brooklyn’s style is tough to describe — as diverse as its myriad mini-hoods. At a Williamsburg coffee shop, you’ll spot a modified hipster (skinny jeans, new-washed tresses and facial hair), and then crossing the street from the Park Slope Co-op, you’ll see an artsy bohemian (all black with oversize accessories and long, wavy hair). I, myself, have learned a few critical style lessons:
1. Platform heels don’t work when you walk 12 blocks to the subway: Unless it’s a special occasion, I end up making more use of the flats in my closet than my — I’ll say it — truly spectacular collection of heels. Once spring hits, I’ll have an easier time carrying my platforms in my bag so I can switch from flip-flops at my destination. If you think that’s ridiculous, you can piss off.
2. You need three things immediately: a slouchy knit hat, glasses, and an oversize cardigan or jacket: I have this sneaking suspicion that part of Brooklyn’s aesthetic is a kind of devil-may-care vulnerability. It’s like everybody decided to go for the sexy-bookstore-employee-who’s-secretly-a-brilliant-novelist look at exactly the same time.
3. Bicycle! Bicycle! Truly the best mode of transportation around a borough with shockingly little connective tissue when it comes to trains (though I do have friends who’ve committed the complex and unpredictable patterns of the buses to memory), these are as much of an accessory as the latest handbag. Cruisers, road bikes, and retro-meets-refurbished cycles abound — I’m opting for a slightly beat-up vintage variety with a basket… for my platforms.
Editor’s Addendum: I would be remiss in this Brooklyn-based column if I didn’t mention a newsworthy Manhattan event: The long-awaited opening of Topshop. The immensely popular London department store’s journey across the Atlantic has not been without its hitches — construction delays, a mysterious fire — but finally, the massive space on Broadway and Broome opens its doors on April 2nd. I, like many of you, will be waiting in line.