A New York State of Mind

“The city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

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If America is the land of opportunity, New York City is without a doubt the epicenter of that idea. New York is written about in countless songs and stories and dreamt of by artists and wishful thinkers from all walks of life.We love New York City because the different boroughs of it are so diverse, yet they come together to create one of the greatest cities in the world.

For this shoot, we decided to each take inspiration from one of the three most well-known boroughs of New York–Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Each of these areas have distinct characteristics that set them apart, so we were incredibly excited to take those ideas and make them our own.

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New York City is one of the world’s premier fashion capitals, featuring grand runway shows, designer flagship stores, and flourishing fast-fashion establishments.

The Manhattan Garment District, which started in the early 20th century, is the primary reason Manhattan has gotten to where it is today. Even though this district is currently struggling due to rising costs, many dedicated individuals at the Garment District Alliance are making sure that the heart of this fashion capital never dies.

Manhattan is known for the upscale, fashion forward scene that lives for fresh designs and one-of-a-kind looks (many of which originate from the Garment District itself). Like anyone, I would love to own pieces from Michael Kors and Kate Spade’s collections, but I’ve learned that dressing fashion forward is more so a state of mind than it is a collection of the labels you own. (I bet you would never believe these modern pants are from Goodwill, and I snatched this lacy camisole off the clearance rack at Target!)

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I love Manhattan because even though it’s always on the cutting edge of fashion and most prominently features the rich and famous, there is still room for the important parts of its history, like the Garment District, and for those who are perhaps not as wealthy or well-known.

Manhattan is a place where everybody can contribute and make their dreams come true,regardless of where they came from.

-H

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Growing up, I was never the most conventionally stylish girl. My style mostly consisted of busy, patterned skirts with leggings and knee-high, neon socks. The photos from my middle school and teenage years are filled with colorful vests, scarfs, and other strange pieces that didn’t match and definitely didn’t go together.

But it didn’t matter to me.

If I liked something, I wore it.

This state of mind has followed me throughout my life and has shaped how I view fashion to this day. It is also why I feel a connection to Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s fashion is packed with mixed, funky patterns and fun, vintage pieces, like overalls or high waisted skirts. It’s inspiring to see a fashion district be so willing to break some of the rules.

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It doesn’t matter if two patterns don’t exactly match or if that oversized jacket that you got from Goodwill is unflattering.

If you like it, wear it and be confident in it.

This refreshing way of looking at personal style is causing the fashion business in Brooklyn to boom. Is it possible that Brooklyn might be on its way to fashion-capital status, even pushing sophisticated Manhattan out of the limelight with its edgy, modern looks? Will Brooklyn place its bets on the high-fashion scene and play with the high rollers, or will it stay in its own independent, lively realm of contemporary designs? Whatever it does, Brooklyn will always inspire me to keep looking at fashion as a fun way to express myself, no matter how I might be seen by everyone else.

-M

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Queens is known for being the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase my own heritage, as I am half Indian. My mom immigrated to this country from India when she was in her twenties, which is still something that completely amazes me. Moving to a foreign country where she knew absolutely no one, did not even have so much as a car or a cell phone, and was only a few years older than I am now? I only hope I inherited that kind of bravery and trailblazing spirit.

As a fashion lover, one of my favorite aspects of Indian culture is the bold colors and intricate embroidery that is found in the clothing. I wore these custom-made, crimson jogger-style pants with a matching kurti to the traditional cocktail party at my cousin’s wedding in India about a year and a half ago.

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I love the pieces together, but I also adore them separately because even one piece alone makes such a striking statement. Indian culture is becoming more prominent every day in this country, which makes me excited (Bollywood stars becoming A-Listers, yoga, embroidery; I love it!), but it also reminds me that America is a place where every culture should be celebrated.

Like my mom, so many people left behind everything they knew in their home countries to contribute to ‘the great experiment’ and give themselves and their children better opportunities (and for a lot of them, that journey started right here in New York!). America is not a country of one culture, but an amalgamation of many, and Queens is the perfect representation of that.

-S

When you imagine a “city,” you probably envision a place where almost everything is tied together with some kind of centralized theme. Like, Portland is known for its hipster vibes and microbreweries. Memphis for blues and barbecue.

New York isn’t quite like that.

There are what feel like cities upon cities within itself, and a more diverse collection of individuals and ideas than can be found anywhere else in the world.

This is why we didn’t exactly try to coordinate our outfits for this shoot.

We knew that as long as we stayed true to ourselves and found the right inspiration, it would come together all on its own.

The fearless optimism and acceptance of these differences are what gives New York it’s own kind of magic, and what gives us our own New York state of mind.

“New York is not a city. It’s a world.”

– Iman

Hannah’s Outfit Details
Top: Target
Pants: Goodwill
Pumps: Vince Camuto
Clutch: Gift
Sunglasses: Eyeglass Direct
Sabrina’s Outfit Details
Top: Goodwill
Pants: Tailor in India
Pumps: Steve Madden
Earrings: Amazon
Clutch: Boutique in India
Sunglasses: Dallas Market
Madison’s Outfit Details
Dress: Goodwill (reinvented by Awaken Atelier)
Ankle Boots: Target
Handbag: Steve Madden
Sunglasses: Aldo
Earrings: H&M
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Freedom Lies in Being Bold

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

– Neale Donald Walsch

DSC_2354 2They say it’s hardest to see what is right in front of you.

We ourselves did not see how much our sense of style was growing and evolving until we looked back at the photographs from some of our first shoots.

Our style is nearly unrecognizable from even a year ago, and that’s pretty incredible.

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Until just a couple months ago, I was stuck in a phase for a long time where I only liked neutrals and basics. They worked, and I knew they looked chic, so it was difficult to break out of that mold. I turned to neutrals because before that, I didn’t really have a ‘style.’ I chose clothes on a whim without thinking about how they would fit in with the rest of my wardrobe. I kind of collected an assortment of pretty clothes with no idea as to what my sense of style was supposed to be.

I’ve loved fashion for my entire life, but it’s taken me almost my entire life thus far to truly figure out my identity in it.

I think everyone goes through those phases in their chosen craft: trying out a whole bunch of random things to see what ‘clicks’, narrowing down those choices in an attempt to make everything appear cohesive, and finally, cultivating some originality and through that, branching out and trying things that are bold and risky.

If you had told me even a year ago that I would be fawning over a floral, embroidered mesh top, I probably would have laughed. I would have never bought this top a year ago because the old me would have thought it was too flashy. But the new me wants to wear it literally every single day.

-S

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People are afraid of being bold in their choices because they’re scared that other people may not like those choices. They’re afraid of indulging in the edgier sides of their passions for fear of what other people might think.

We used to be those people.

We used to care what comments people made, or didn’t make, but thought to themselves.

Yet, we’re a lot happier now that we honestly don’t give a damn what other people think of us or our outfits.

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I knew what I was supposed to do, but I didn’t know how I was going to do it.

I was scared.

For so long, I wrestled with what my major was going to be. I tried out environmental science and journalism at first, in an attempt to be “practical,” and then turned to digital filmmaking because it seemed like a good compromise between practicality and artistry. I liked them all, but none of them ever lit a fire inside of me.

It was time to be bold and do what I was meant to do– the arts.

I jumped in headfirst and took four art classes this semester, and they have opened my eyes as a creator. When I see a garment hanging on a rack at Goodwill, my mind races through the different ways I could reinvent it to make it fresh and stylish, and my heart races with anticipation to get to work on it. I don’t think I could have (or would have) done that with an environmental science degree.

In art, we are always looking for a way to communicate a message through colors, emotion, and lines– and that describes fashion to a tee. When I was bold in my decision to go after my passion and my craft, I became more myself than ever. And my style reflected that as I began to purchase daring pieces. As I became more adventurous in my art, I also became fearless in my style. I would have never worn a mesh top and overalls even just a few months ago!

So, take that job, move to L.A., wear that dress. Be courageous and go after your desires.

-H

Making bold choices is obviously a risk, and sometimes it doesn’t pay off.

Just yesterday, we were talking about how we would like to scrap/change some of the old outfits we’ve worn for shoots! Disliking some the chances you took is part of it. If you don’t take those chances, you are never going to end up with something that takes your breath away. You have to be willing to be bold and put yourself out there if you ever want to get past a plateau.

For us, that plateau was sticking to fashion that was safe.

For you, it might be grinding away at the same sales job without ever actually increasing your commission, or yielding the same results from a research experiment over and over again. If you’re stuck somewhere like that, know that you don’t have to be there forever.

You just have to try something new, or even think about something old in a new way. Change is hard and change is messy, but change is worth it. Step out of your comfort zone, and you would not believe the incredible things you can achieve.

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“Enjoy being bold, and if that is scary at first, marvel at your ability to walk through fear.”
-Rivka Solomon
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Sabrina’s Outfit Details
Mesh Top: Zara
White Button Down: Express
Jeans: H&M
Shoes: Antonio Melani
Earrings: Badgley Mischka
Sunglasses TJ Maxx
Rings: Unknown
Hannah’s Outfit Details:
Top: Forever 21
Overalls: Forever 21
Shoes: Marc Fisher
Brallette: Victoria’s Secret
Earrings: HipSway
Sunglasses: TJ Maxx
Photos by Demetrius McCullough