What men are not wearing now in New York
Once, it was considered de rigueur for New Yorkers to wear a hat and gloves in town. Now dress codes have devolved to the point where folks wear fleecy slippers on the subway, flipflops to the ballet, running tights for every occasion, pajamas as daywear and, recently, very little at all.
We are referring here to a curious trend inked below his navel. And that was about all.
Mr. Bloom was doing what a sensible person might to stay cool, if that person lived in Malibu. But Mr. Bloom was not in Southern California.
“I was on my way to the bank and I saw not one, not two, but three guys” walking shirtless across Eighth Street, said Rob Morea, a personal trainer and gym owner. (As might be expected of someone in his line of work, Mr. Morea’s own physique resembles that of a bendable action figure. Despite that, he would never go shirtless in New York, he said. “It doesn’t feel right. It’s like going to a business meeting in your underwear.”) And yet there, on Bastille Day, was a shirtless guy checking out the windows at Bergdorf Goodman; there, on Lafayette Street one Tuesday morning, ambled a shirtless shopper hauling Urban Outfitter bags; there, on the R train, was a rider wearing nothing but jeans and sandals; there, on Astor Place, a cluster of topless men flaunting their abs and pecs.
Experts say something more is at play than attempts to stay cool as temperatures this summer have risen to 32° Celsius and higher.
It is all a predictable part of the dressingdown of America, said Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at the Fashion
As more men go shirtless in New York, some lament the loss of decorum. Institute of Technology. “It’s great we live in a democratic society, but we’ve lost all sense of decorum and occasion,” Ms. Mears said. “To be on Fifth Avenue is now about the same as being on the Coney Island boardwalk.”
To display your torso on a city street is also, she added, to give proof of the proposition that in the evolutionary arc of masculinity, men are no longer the oglers; they are the object of the gaze.
Signs of this are everywhere: on Broadway, where male nudity is now so commonplace it evokes fewer cries of outrage than yawns; on television, where bare-chested male stars are standard fare; and in advertising, where male pulchritude is used to sell everything from Diet Coke to salad dressing.
What’s disorienting about all the exposed skin, said Ms. Mears, is “a blurring of lines” between public and private space, lines crossed long ago in places like Southern California, where sweat pants are more common than suits and no one thinks twice about wearing a bikini to go to the mall.
“Reality TV has had an effect here,” she said.
In her own New York childhood, the only acceptable urban setting for a shirtless man might have been a city beach, Ms. Mears, 52, added. It would have certainly been unthinkable for a man in possession of his senses to walk up Madison Avenue, New York’s great retailing promenade, shirtless on a Friday afternoon.
Yet there on a recent steamy day was JeanLuc Constant, a boxer and model, standing bare-chested outside the Ralph Lauren store. Despite some perplexity among passers-by, he himself was fully nonchalant.
“Maybe it’s because of my profession,” he said. “I don’t really mind being naked at all.”