Evolution of NYC Fashion, As Told Through “The Deuce”

All along 42nd Street, figures identifiable by their skin tight cropped halter tops, oversized fur coats and clunky mustard heels navigate the noticeably gritty streets at nightfall. These women, with jeweled mini-clutches held firm in one hand and long velvet capes slung over one shoulder, steal the spotlight with their unmistakable confidence and raunchy fashion. They stand on those street corners for one purpose alone: to attract high-paying customers.

This is an unrecognizable image of a much seedier Times Square painted by HBO’s new television series The Deuce. This TV show is set in a 1970’s Time Square, a far cry from the family-friendly tourist trap we all know today. This section of New York City had adult theaters, strip clubs and drug deals on every street corner, and represented a city on the brink of ruins. Of course, this image of Times Square and of New York City has changed tremendously since then, but there are still some parallels between this New York City and modern-day New York City. One of these parallels is found in fashion. 

It’s no secret that as decades come and go, we witness numerous trends reach their peak before descending back into obscurity. The New York City fashion scene is no exception to this phenomenon. For one, while The Deuce mainly showcases outfits that were worn amongst the sex industry workers of the time, the costume choices for these characters weren’t completely devoid of the 1970’s “mainstream style.” 

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Source: TV Guide

Take the ensemble worn by the character Candy in the Pilot episode. If there’s one thing to emphasize, it would be that her fashion is representative of all New York hooker fashion of the decade: fighting a constant battle between grit and glamour. While the two categories had been forcibly separated from each other in the past, as only the brave would dare to pair the distinct styles in one look, Candy’s ensemble proves to be a unique way of blending those two categories to appear not only unified, but also fashionable. 

These parallels add to the ongoing narrative about the New York City fashion scene that harbors style risk-takers and statement-makers, even in modern-day fashion. 1970’s clothing staples and accessories, such as wide-legged pants, bold prints, crop tops and furry outerwear, can be seen on many “fashion-forward” New Yorkers today. As stereotypical ideas and correlations between clothing and a person’s life begin to fade with time, people start to view clothing as a way for people to express themselves. What was once a style reserved for the least-glamorous workers in New York City is given a new purpose, and a new outlook, by this generation of fashion risk-takers. 

Sherah Ndjongo is a staff writer. Email her at violetvision@nyunews.com.

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