Can one country be so different that you feel like you’re in a foreign land after a 2 hour flight? That was my first thought upon arriving in New Orleans in late December. It reminded me of San Juan, something other friends have pointed out before. Must be the palm trees and the weather and the joie de vivre the locals possess. I went to New Orleans for the first time for New Year’s Eve. I was expecting the crazy partying, jazz, Creole/Cajun cuisine and French-influenced culture but what most struck me about was the local fashion, the abundance of local boutiques.
My friend Karina lives off Magazine Street, a long street filled with bars, shops and tons of boutiques and jewelry stores. That is where ‘the locals hang out’. Our first night out we went to a couple of local bars, heard some live music, I took in the city in a very non-Bourbon Street kind of way. Which I saved till my friend from DC arrived so we could be tourists together. Having lived in DC for two years I am taking in this great local fashion and vigor. Not to say that every city needs it – it is just not a priority here in the capital. Aside from the occasional U Street hipster one does not see a lot of original fashion and creativity. In the words of a New Yorker living in DC, “Why is there so much Ann Taylor here!?”
Both my friend and I (who is a native Washingtonian) kept looking at the trendy clothes, great boots and shoes, and that great Southern hair on all the women down in NoLa. They all had personalities to match and Southern Hospitality is a definite presence. Having moved to DC from New York I used to call DC the South; I will not be doing that again! Washington is definitely mid-Atlantic: the center point of the North and South. NoLa is most definitely in the South but with a lot of clothes and trends that you would ordinarily see in the East Village in New York or in London. Self-image is valued immensely there (or that is what I thought and observed) while in DC …not so much.
Aside from the hustle and bustle of Bourbon Street, the crazy costumes, Mardi Gras, and colonial architecture, there is a very creative and stylish populace – mostly young people who are looking good and having a great time doing it. I recommend everyone visiting NoLa check out the Magazine Street vintage stores and boutiques. We need a Magazine Street in DC too! The biggest reason people here dress so standard and uniform – there are not many places to shop, plain and simple.
Citizens of DC, post your ideas for fun and individual places to shop in DC proper in the Comments. Why do you think DC dresses quite uniformly?
Written by Asif Khan.