Saturday, February 6, 2016

How to Be Out All Day

"Do New York girls do that thing with their shoes that D.C. girls do?" JW asked me.
"Um, that depends. What do D.C. girls do with their shoes?" I said.
"Oh, that thing where you walk around in flats and carry your heels with you to work?"
"Oh yeah. Totally. Absolutely. 100%."

I have without a doubt carried my heels around with me, and sometimes I do it on a regular basis. Every New York girl has a giant, work-appropriate tote of some kind to throw all of her crap in for this purpose. Also because most of us don't have the luxury of going home to change for the evening or get something we might need for the second or even third part of our day. On the days when I'm busiest, I'll end up carrying my laptop, my camera, my makeup bag and my heels around with me because it's just too inconvenient to go home.

But I've seen girls carry even more than that. In fact, having dinner with ED just last night, she pulled a smaller handbag out of her giant tote, which she needs when she's hopping around the five boroughs, going to and from her office during the day as a lobbyist. Out also came a makeup bag, a sweater, and probably more. It's just what we do. One time I carried a wrapped baby gift with me; another time a footstool. Someone once called me Mary Poppins. It's a badge I wear proudly because it means I'm a New Yorker. Girls in L.A. have it easy--they just throw everything in their cars. But here in New York? We are our cars. I promise you, if you randomly stop any gal in the street and take a look inside her bag, there's going to be a similar assortment of items. Somehow our shoulders handle it (I find personally that the key is a bag with thick shoulder straps--preferably in more than one color so they're versatile!). 

When I know I'm going to be out all day, I usually live my day in reverse of most people. I exercise in the morning first, then shower and eat breakfast, putting all of the things I might need for the day on my bed so I don't forget them. Notebook? Tape recorder? Headphones? Camera? Laptop? Heels? Lipstick? Eyeliner? Pens? Checkbook? A magazine or book to read on the train? I pile everything on top of one another in a neat stack, building on top of my computer so one side of the bag will lay flat against me and the rest of the garbage flops on the other side. Then I pick out my outfit for the day. The giant bag I pack it all in will match whatever the outfit is.

AS and I actually made up a game for these outfit-changing puzzles called Style Challenge: Accepted. It could be something that has to go from hanging an art show to hosting a reading (though for that particular event I brought a change of clothes); or from a brandy tasting to working in a cafe to an evening concert; or from a meeting with a photography client to grocery shopping to dinner with friends. The more versatile your outfit and the less items you have to change, the more points you get. For example, I once went from working in a coffee shop to taking a dance class to a friend's holiday party: I decided to wear black shiny disco pants and a matching tank top under a black sweater dress, bringing along a flannel shirt and dance shoes for class (don't worry, I showered at a friend's in between the dance class and the party, which were in 10 blocks of each other). Minimal changes required for an outfit that serves multiple purposes throughout the course of 12 hours. Such an outfit is a busy gal's dream. I also win points for making fewer changes. Huzzah!

Being out all day sounds like it's physically and maybe even emotionally taxing--the word "schlep" comes to mind--but I really enjoy it. By the end of the day, of course, I am leaning my bag against whatever surfaces I can find just to get it off of my shoulder, but being out that long makes me feel like I've accomplished something. I have lived another day out and about in New York, and when I come home and crawl into my sweatpants and flop onto the couch that I've really earned it. And, of course, the next day I'll do it all over again.