There really is a distinct difference between West Village garb and that of the folks who live north of 14th Street.

Recently, I went north to attend a birthday party for a dear friend and, on another night, for dinner at a fancy Upper East Side restaurant. That’s when it hit me—the dress code and hairstyles uptown, for both men and women, are really different from Village styles. The people at both the party and the restaurant were friendly, interesting and bright. So, there is nothing personal about my comments.

Let’s stay with the men’s dress code for this column. Men’s wool or flannel slacks or suit trousers cut without narrow ankles, sport coats and suit jackets with wide lapels, colorful striped shirts with white collars and cuff links, bow ties and rep ties—these are all kind-of uniforms on the Upper East Side.

I guess you could say they are stiff, at the very least, and all are very different from what is typically seen below 14th Street.

Let me say right here that my regular travels never take me north of 14th Street, except for the theatre district where I work. I never go to the Upper West Side—oh, well, I do go to Lincoln Center but that’s it.

But back to my point about West Village garb and our Village’s gestalt. If you have read my columns you know that I wear a tie most of the time but do so with a sense of West Village independence, a freer attitude if you will, that plays out for most of us who live in the Village. Down here in our community, stuffiness just seems to melt away. We, the men and the women, have a different approach to life, it seems, than our northern neighbors—a more bohemian outlook—and our dress helps to express that philosophy. So, yes, there are men in man buns and ponytails, shaved heads and buzz cuts. Up north hair is very styled in a Cary Grant look that hasn’t changed since the ‘30s. Down here there are jeans with every imaginable kind of jacket. There are no Chesterfield coats and few navy blazers with lots of gold buttons. Instead, there is a crazy mix of army fatigue styles, puffy ski coats and everything in between. Esquire and GQ are not at the top of West Village residents’ reads. Menswear is rarely read down here. The Atlantic Monthly is more likely to be read on the laptops at Cafe Panino Mucho Gusto, where even WWII Russian-style army coats are seen frequently.

It is clear to me that West Village “natives” live a more relaxed and less socially restricted or structured lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but that’s why I’m down here living a wonderful New York life in a West Village winter get-up.

—Gordon Hughes

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