Southern Fashion versus NYC Fashion


Summer (aged 19), a resident of New York City, showcases her urban style with friends during a social outing. (@sumblocc via Instagram).

Written By Casey Cupps-O'Sullivan

For decades New York City has upheld the reputation for being the epicenter of fashion and the latest trends. Whether you’re walking down Fifth Avenue or just left your apartment building in Soho, you’ll come to find the crowded streets filled with varieties of style. 

Model for Urban Outfitters advertises these stylish “Levi’s 501 Mid-thigh Denim Shorts,” which are worn regularly during the summer in New York City, and can be paired with a variety of accessories.

Many factors may contribute to one’s fashion preferences such as an individual’s income, friends and location. For example, the teenagers in New York City differ in their style choices from those who live in a more southern state like North Carolina. Having lived in both of these places, I have witnessed these differences firsthand. While boys in both the Northeast and the South seem to favor similar styles, the majority of aesthetic distinctions fall into the category of teenage girls. 

The clothes girls choose to wear typically say a lot about them and their lifestyle— primarily the environment in which they surround themselves and their involvement with social media. A common midpoint for both New York and North Carolina is on TikTok. The widespread use of TikTok’s platform allows these two states (as well as many others) to connect by creating, liking and sharing short videos. While there are a multitude of genres on the app, fashion trends dominate a large number of users’ pages. On TikTok, certain trends may be targeted towards specific geographical areas and, as a result of this, fashion tends to separate. Free People Movement shorts, Luogongzi shorts (most people know them as “the Amazon shorts”), ruffled tops/skirts, and maxi skirts are only a handful of clothing items that teens wear regularly in Charlotte, but many New Yorkers wouldn’t think about wearing them. It wasn’t until I visited friends in New York City after moving to North Carolina that I began to realize the reality of these drastic differences.

My first encounter with the style differentiation was when I was staying with a close friend and decided to wear my dark purple Free People Movement shorts. The moment I walked in I was given a look of bewilderment and could practically hear my friend thinking to herself: “What is she wearing?” It suddenly occurred to me that she probably had never seen anyone wear them before, and I was curious as to what was so different about these shorts compared to ones she might choose to wear. When asked, she said,”They look like some sort of synthetic material which reminds me of athletic clothes. The folds that cinch the waist make it look like a clash between shorts and a skirt which confuses me.” But why was this so uncommon to her yet so familiar to me?

What I’ve gathered after moving from New York is the considerable difference in space that has engendered the extreme change in lifestyle. Although kids in Manhattan have the opportunity to participate in sports, the facility space is incomparable; therefore, sports among

Model for Free People Movement advertises a pair of dark purple “The Way Home Shorts,” a popular choice for athletic or loungewear in Charlotte.

teens in high school are more prevalent in the south. Taking this idea into account, I have concluded that Southern fashion tends to be more “athleisure.” New York City on the other hand, seems to qualify more as business casual or, in the case of teens, whatever is trending at that moment worldwide, because of the city’s importance as a fashion trailblazer. Although there are many reasons for these influences, the greatest fashion impact is simply the trends to which they are exposed to regularly. This trend is for a variety of reasons but mainly because fashion trends are derived from what people see and are exposed to. Kids living in the South are more prone to see others their age wearing athletic clothes, while teens in New York are influenced by every person they see walking down the street; New York City is unparalleled for its diversity of cultures and increasing number of tourists. due to the variety of cultures, diversity and the increasing number of tourists. 

Tourists are known for bringing what they deem are their best outfits when they visit New York City because of its reputation of high quality fashion. This practice has an influence on kids and creates almost a competitive environment in which people feel like they need to keep up with the trends. Influential fashion is exhibited all throughout New York, so much to where people even get fashion inspiration from the stores in proximity to them. These stores would include brands like Zara, Brandy Melville and Bloomingdale’s as opposed to stores commonly found in Charlotte such as Ivy and Leo’s or Boem. Something as simple as passing by a large window display or walking past a screened advertisement contributes to the choices people make everyday when choosing what to wear. Furthermore, it is more common to take public transportation or walk in the city as opposed to the suburbs where you drive almost everywhere. This proximity to fashion from all around the world allows people living in the city to encounter creativity through style more often on a daily basis. 

While fashion trends spread throughout areas, what makes fashion unique is when others take inspiration from such places and make fashion their own. As these trends continuously grow everyday, little by little, trends strike locations and flourish.