While this site is devoted to New York’s fabulous Dress Boutiques, we would be remiss not to celebrate NYC’s rich history in fashion and garment production.
New York has been America’s fashion resource since the early 1800’s. While most Americans made their own clothes, fashionable women in New York had their dresses handmade by local dressmakers. By the 1820’s, the concept of ready-made clothing became increasingly popular, and the tailors and dressmakers in NYC were producing ready-made garments when they weren’t tailoring custom clothing. All this was occurring in what we now know as the “Garment District,” a neighborhood in Manhattan between 5th and 9th Avenue from 34th to 42nd streets.
Around the 1850’s ready-made clothing became streamlined with the introduction of commercial sewing machines, as well as an increased demand from individuals traveling west and sailors traveling abroad. Unfortunately, the American Civil War helped expand the demand for ready-made clothing because of the need for soldiers’ uniforms; by the end of the 1860’s, most of what America wore was designed and manufactured in New York.
The next milepost included the influx of Eastern European immigrants who brought expertise and business know-how to the industry. This offered middle class American women an opportunity to own lovely, affordable dresses in the early 20th century. This also was the birth of the New York department store and the rise of consumer culture.
To promote a new season of dress designs, stores like Lord & Taylor and Stewarts copied the “ fashion parades” of the French fashion houses by holding a fashion show in-house to entice middle class NYC women to their stores. Although it remains unclear exactly when the first fashion show was, some say it was held at the Ehrich Brother’s store, in 1903. By 1920’s, Department Store fashion shows were springing up around the country; they generally held in a store’s restaurant during lunch or tea time. They generally presented a theme and were always promoting the latest fashion from Paris, despite the fact that the dresses were being designed and manufactured in New York City.
Until WWII, America was a slave to French Couture, thereby setting the stage each season for what dress designs women should be buying and wearing. This created a problem for buyers, because designers and editors could not travel to occupied France. Would the New York fashion designers fail without the French influence? The answer arrived in the person of Eleanor Lambert, the fabulous champion of the American Designer who put together a series of events called “ Press Week.” Ms. Lambert’s goal was to offer editors an opportunity to see the work of New York Designers and then write positive reviews on what they were seeing. Ms. Lambert’s goal was realized, and magazine editors praised New York Designers for being “ modern, streamlined and flattering.” Finally our New York Designers were getting the recognition they so well deserved.” Ms. Lambert’s “ Press Week” was the forerunner to what we now know as “ Fashion Week” held twice a year in Spring and Fall in NYC.
We can all agree that NYC is fashion central to fabulous dress, shoe, and sports wear design. No matter what neighborhood you may be strolling through, you will see a cornucopia of style mavens on the street. Can we talk about the fabulous Dress Boutiques found all over this fantastic city? OMG the shopping is like no other! Back to street style, who better to record it than Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist, who can be found on the streets of NYC photographing a young woman wearing a Gary Graham deconstructed green skirt paired with black leggings and Dock Marten work boots topped off with layers of sweaters, vests and scarves screaming East Village. Scott Schuman has a knack of photographing very chic Upper East Side Women dressed to the nines, smartly accessorized, and always elegant. “The Sartorialist,” clearly possesses a true passion for individual style.
New York city offers ample opportunities to shop for a new frock. Maybe you have an invitation to an art opening at the Whitney Studio Club, predecessor to the Whitney Museum, located on 8th Street in Greenwich Village; if so your options are wide open. You may opt for a short black cocktail dress, but please rub some funk on it by rocking the accessories! How about flaunting a pair of shoe booties by Sergio Rossi and carrying your lipstick in your oh- so-coveted “Knuckle Duster Clutch” by Alexander McQueen? I am feeling much better now, knowing you have your downtown look well orchestrated? Our reputation is on the line here: the Boutiques featured on NYC Dress take their jobs very seriously. So if you have a favorite piece that you want to build around, like your gorgeous Maison Martin Margiela chocolate brown cashmere sheath, I am confident that anyone of the fashion professionals featured on NYC Dress will be more than happy to put a couple of looks together for you. It may be as simple as moving from boots to shoes and adding some fun color with an Issey Miyake scarf. You are well under way in being a fashionista with signature pieces that can be updated with new accessories in the seasons to come.
You are having dinner in Chinatown and then off to the Bowery to see “ Miss Understood” perform at “ Lucky Chengs.” What’s the girl to wear? First of all, Michael Musto may be on scene, which sets the bar high, so you can’t go wrong with a pair of Christian Louboutin suede over the knee boots. Oh it’s summer, so how about a cute pair of gladiator sandals, pencil jeans and a sheer peasant blouse? No matter what you decide, you will be worshipping at the alter of outrageous fashion at this venue. Maybe take your cue from Serge Gainsbourgh and Jane Birkin, they always made a statement when they were out clubbing. Make Mr. Musto proud and put on that mini dress and sashay your cute self to stage center, and you will make all the girls scream.
What is so fabulous about New York City is that whatever your style is, it is here; all you have to do is surf this site to find the Boutique that matches your style. You don’t have a style, Girlfriend we can hook you up! So you are meeting your man down at South Seaport for a casual dinner for two, a breezy summer frock, a cute cardigan, a stack of bangles, finish it all off with a pair of Chie Mihara strappy back zipped sandal. Now this may not be a look you would be comfortable with, especially a shoe that has a stacked heel that is well over 3 inches and a 1 inch platform, so visit one of the boutiques featured on NYC Dress and the fashion insiders can dress you in a very chic ensemble that is just perfect for you, I promise.
It’s always a safe bet to follow Cathy Horyn, New York Times Fashion Critic; she is on top of the latest trends and has fabulous insights into what works and what doesn’t work. Cathy Horyn’s Blog, “ On the Runway,” is also insightful when shopping for the next season; a must read.
Before you pick a dress style, have some insight into what your body type is; for instance, you have no curves and little definition between your bust, waist, or hips, your body type would be called Straight. Babydoll and A-LineStyles would enhance you figure and provide the illusion that you have curves. A dress with a ruched bodice would be quite complimentary and would enhance your figure.
You find that you are Pear Shaped, fuller at the hips and bottom and smaller on top. You would want to choose a dress that has a A-line or Full Skirt with a neck line that is open or strapless, along with a fitted bodice; you will find that this style will be very complimentary to your figure.
For the classic Hourglass figure--curves in all the right spots! A knit or wrap dress with a fitted waist will show off your gorgeous figure.
So you have no waist and my dear you, are not alone--your Apple figure calls for an Empire waist or a Babydoll style; need an A-line skirt or even a full skirt to create the illusion of a waist. Shop for a dress that has detail at the neckline or just add a big bold necklace to draw the attention away from your middle. No matter what your shape is, any one of the fashion professionals featured on New York Dress can put you in the perfect dress and accessorize the heck out of it so you look and feel marvelous.
So you found that perfect dress for an evening of Jazz at the Lincoln Center; now all you need is a pair of cute shoes. First and foremost, do not and I repeat,do not waist money on a cheap pair of shoes! You owe it to yourself, your date and most of all your feet to invest in well made shoes. I am prejudiced, so I think the best made shoes come out of Italy or Spain; there are some amazing Shoe Designers that also hail from Italy and Spain. So you have your sights set on a pair of gorgeous metallic mesh shoe booties by Gluseppe Zanotti that are sporting a 4 inch lacquered stiletto heel. With all that in mind, are you planning to walk or take a cab? Is this an event where you might be standing for a period of time? Ask your salesperson how they would rate this shoe: is it a 2hr, 4hr, or an all day shoe? And also ask about the pitch. The pitch defines the angle in which your foot is positioned in the shoe; less angle, more likely you can be in the shoe longer. So let your shoe insider know that you will need to walk--you are in NYC after all--and you will have periods of standing, but you still want a sexy pair of peep toe pumps; they will help you find the right pair for you. There are some exquisite comfort lines out there, like Anyi Lu or Taryn Rose, both design for comfort and style and both labels are handmade in Italy.
A little chat about accessories: this where you can hone your personal style. Myself, I love my Hermes Scarves, pearls and every so often I find interesting mix medium necklaces crafted by local artists that I will throw into the line up. Your accessories can completely change that same black sheath and transport it from the office to an evening out. There is an art to it, and I would suggest seeking help from our fashion forward friends on NYC Dress; they have a knack for recreating in a blink of an eye.
We love all that New York offers us, from the fabulous restaurants, wonderful museums, Times Square, Central Park, and the Theater District, to mention of view, but what we are so appreciative of is New York’s Garment District that has been in the forefront of Clothing Manufacturing and Fashion Design for over 200 years. NYC Dress celebrates Fashion in New York by featuring some of city’s very special dress Boutiques