What to Wear To: An Ambiguous Cultural Event

If you’re interested in being part of the scene, not making a scene (har, har), might I suggest these staples.
Publish date:
December 17, 2015
clothes, shoppables, fashion, what to wear

A few months ago, I moved from Austin, Texas to Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. I'm here to work, but I'm also here to make friends. Making friends can be work — and vice versa — and perfect way to mix business with pleasure is by attending one of the many fine cultural happenings this city has to offer. As a young (or young-ish) person, these kinds of going out outings can just be rife with complicated nuance. Whether it's a gallery opening or your friend’s boyfriend’s house show, there are important questions to ask yourself including, but not limited to:

Do you want to look cool or cooly not try-hard? Is this an event for high-minded irony or low-brow kitsch? Is it cold outside?

Baby’s First Art Opening

When I think of gallery openings, I think of every late 90s/early 2000s TV show episode that involved a meet-cute in front of a piece of art. A guy sort of snakes up behind a woman viewing art and they exchange a few moments of sensual conversation. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but it's possible I haven’t been wearing the right outfit, you know what I mean?

This look is low-key, yet not totally void of personality.

You’ll stand out from the crowd of “all black everything,” and there’s a fairly good chance you’ll be the only person at this shindig wearing something bodycon. Instantly memorable! This sculptural necklace from Son of a Sailor looks sculptural — it strikes the delicate balance between looking like art and not outdoing the art.

Your Friend’s Rock Show

All you need for this is dark lipstick (kidding, but mostly not.) The thing with low-key, intimate music-based events — as anyone who’s been in their late teens/twenties knows — is that the trick is trying very hard without looking like it. I was at a bar recently where a girl walked in wearing Uggs and Abercrombie-style faded cutoff shorts. She was by far the most subversive person in the room, and I loved her for it.

I strongly encourage you to take this (see above) route if wearing something other than black denim interests you, and you, too, are mourning the recent death of Paris Hilton fave and iconic mid-2000s brand, Kitson. If you want to stick to basics, this is your look. It’s fun, it’s comfy, and all you need to throw on with this is a messy ponytail and boots.

First Date

Cultural gatherings are the perfect litmus test for true love (or true enough love). This was tested recently when I mentioned to a dude off Tinder that I was going to a book festival.

He said “What is a book festival? That sounds wild.” See what I mean?

A reading or day date to a museum tests a few things. Are you a generally taxing person to be around in public? Do you touch the art? Are you with a mansplainer? Does the person not snicker at the same things you do?

I love this corduroy jacket + sweater dress + throwback collar combo because it reminds me, for some reason, of being in high school. Not that you want your date to think you’re in high school, but summoning the spirit of being up to no good on a Friday night is a good vibe. It’s not an outfit that screams “Which one of you in here is my Tinder date?”

There you have it — three solid looks to have you ready for the free drinks at any gallery opening, and the cultural currency you’re about to ball out with. And if all else fails, you know who to channel. Now it's your turn — what are your go to looks for your most ambiguous nights out and about?