Fashion Friday

Published by Wednesday Martin

Who doesn't like Fridays? For many Manhattan parents, Friday is a "partial day" or even a "half day" — because lots of Manhattan private schools have noon dismissal every Friday. At my sons' nursery school, we used to refer to Friday as "Daddy Drop Off Day" because that practice is so common at that particular school — and so many others.

Many of the families I study have weekend homes and leave as early as they can on Fridays to get there. If you're staying in town, your kids may have lots of weekend activities and classes and a birthday party or maybe even two to attend. But you're still likely feeling pretty relaxed about having survived the week of early morning runs to school before working out and work. The idea of "casual Friday" — Friday being a day of the weekend really, with its own, toned-down, comfortable uniform--is one of the few "mass" ideas in fashion and culture that New Yorkers have embraced as their own.

Many moms wear exercise clothes to Friday drop off here, and then might stay in them all day long. Lulu Lemon is the brand of choice by overwhelming consensus. It is extremely form-fitting, almost an exoskeleton or whole-body girdle, and an intrinsic part of Upper East Side mommy body display culture. Manhattan Geishas, as I call them, expend great energy on the maintenance and improvement of their bodies, which are in themselves signifiers of privilege. A Lulu-Lemon sheathed fit physique says "I have the leisure time to do this" and is as coveted a status symbol as the latest Hermes bag. In poverty cultures, curves and fat are valued as markers of health and wealth. On the UES of Manhattan, it's just the opposite.

Above are some photos of my younger son's typical school outfit. Obviously his school does not require a uniform. Of course his aesthetic is an extension of my own and also his caregiver' and my husband's. But my son has always been something of a free spirit, making many of his own choices. These have included pink princess socks from Duane Reade, Hello Kitty socks, purple flowered socks, and overall mashups of plaids and stripes. Recently he has reported that boys in his class tell him "purple and pink is only for girls." I tell him to tell them they are WRONG. Obviously those kids are unaware that until the mid 1900's, pink was STRICTLY FOR BOYS because it was a "stronger and more decided color and so more suitable for the boy. Blue is more delicate and daintier and so appropriate for the girl." Everywhere you looked until mid-century, boys were in pink and girls were in light blue. Manufacturers changed that up in the late 1940s.  Food for thought this weekend, perhaps.