Who hasn’t had the nightmare? It is that of being surprised in public wearing his underwear. Dream therapists and Bibles tend to present these dreams as symbolic expressions of shame or repression.
Yet what if the so-called experts are wrong and these dreams are more of an unconscious attempt at liberation? Throw in the embarrassment with these restrictive outer garments. Step out proudly in your turtle print boxer briefs or Cosabella bra.
Certainly that’s what a lot of people are doing lately, as many venture after 16 months of hibernation with a surprising degree of license on what passes for street wear.
Just ten years ago, it was rare to see people on Fifth Avenue in Washington Square Park, taking the subway or walking around airports in various states in deep negligee. Anyone who has walked around New York City lately can tell you that is no longer true.
People, in other words, run around half naked.
Last week, writer Claudia Summers was shopping in midtown Manhattan when she passed a young woman casually strolling along 33rd Street near Moynihan Train Hall, wearing a low rise jeans and a bra. “Was that a sports bra?” A follower asked after Ms Summers posted a snapshot of the woman on her Instagram account.
” Certainly not ! replied Ms Summers, who quickly added that she admired the woman’s moxie and it was a hot day anyway.
Of course, it wasn’t a bra top. Crochet bralettes, headbands and bikinis are everywhere. Likewise, the Daisy Dukes are cut enough to expose the curvature of the buttocks. And these elements are by no means relegated to people who identify with the pronouns “she” and “she”.
“I’m an exhibitionist and I love to show off my body,” said Kae Cook, 32, a messenger, of his wardrobe pick one recent evening as he crossed Eighth Street in the East Village.
To keep cool on a scorching hot day, Mr. Cook had taken to the streets wearing mid-thigh bike shorts and a strappy sports bra top. “Especially after a pandemic, people take pleasure in showing their body, whatever body it is, and I’m very comfortable with that,” he said.
That not everyone shares his point of view can be seen in the case of Deniz Saypinar, a Turkish bodybuilder and social media influencer who was recently barred from boarding an American Airlines flight from Texas to Miami, allegedly because of her taut brown tank top and her super-cropped shorts. were likely to “disturb families” on the plane.
Ms Saypinar, 26, quickly took to social media to recount the incident for the benefit of her one million followers, tearfully explaining that door staff had insulted her by claiming she had been close to “naked”, which, in fairness, she had.
In a statement of its own, American Airlines confirmed that Ms Saypinar was denied boarding and rebooked on a subsequent flight, albeit dressed in more modest attire: “As stated in the conditions transportation, all customers should dress appropriately and wear offensive clothing. is not allowed on board our flights.
What one might call wearing conditions change all the time in the culture at large, where women’s dress has always tended to be controversial and society has heavily regulated the choice of dress to suit. of the political climate, customs and tastes.
“Efforts to legislate on modesty are always imposed and accepted unevenly,” Reina Lewis, professor of cultural studies at the London College of Fashion, said recently by telephone, adding that although the current flesh parade surely signals a sort of liberation is one that, probably like no, is more firmly rooted in pandemic pragmatism than a desire to flout conventional morality.
“When the Covid lockdown comes out, a lot of people have to come out,” she said. Young people couldn’t go out together. Many are now desperate for a vacation they are unlikely to have. Travel is more expensive and more difficult.
“So basically,” Dr Lewis said, “these are people who have to vacation at home.” Those casual outfits we once reserved for poolside parties and backyard barbecues are now offered for the only vacation destinations available to many of us: city parks and city streets.
“The world is getting hotter and hotter with global warming,” Nefalfj Lewis, a bartender, said last week as she and a friend walked through St. Marks Place. Despite the wilting subtropical humidity, Ms Lewis, 25, did not look disturbed by the weather. “The city is hot and dirty, so you have to do what you can to stay cool and comfortable,” she said, standing in a striped stretch cotton jumpsuit with a beach towel (for take the “dirty” metro) tucked away under it. arm.
But what about traditional dress codes and the days when people dressed rather than socks for city life? Have New Yorkers ditched vanity for comfort and conceded the city’s edge in the global competition for primacy among urban fashion capitals in places like Paris and Milan?
“I understand that we have gone from being hidden, hidden, and no one cares what you wear because no one sees you at this unexpected ‘coming out’,” wrote Linda Fargo, Director of Women’s Fashion. for Bergdorf Goodman, in a recent text message, describing what she sees as lowering the civic pride bar. “I’ve never seen that look or that self-expression, no matter what time and place, unless we’re talking about Ibiza or Saint-Tropez.”
But hadn’t borders of all kinds already started to erode before the lockdown, when pajama bottoms made their debut on city sidewalks, alongside fluffy slippers, Lululemon tights and shoes? shower? (Never mind the spandex bike shorts.) A long time ago, decency appeared as a meadow dress of morality, standing in a tumultuous digital landscape where no one knows who zooms in without pants and intimate selfies are the hallmark. equivalent of a Tumblr hello.
Seen in this light, Fifth Avenue underwear has probably always been the logical endpoint of a gradual blurring of the distinctions between public and private. At least that’s what I imagined until one afternoon last week when, looking up from my Harvest Bowl to Sweetgreen, I saw through the window a young woman casually walking through Astor Place wearing a pair of cutoffs, sandals and – it’s completely legal to do so – naked above the waist.