Here’s the thing: I’m a modest dresser. Unlike most gals in their early twenties, I tend to stay away from anything too body-conscious or attention-grabbing.
Instead, my wardrobe is made up of preppy staples: loose-fitting denim, horizontal stripes, Peter Pan collars and classic turtlenecks. Think toddler meets elderly woman — or, as my best friend puts it, “a 1960s Parisian housewife who joined a convent.”
In other words, I would never wear a skintight romper on my own time. But when I read that it was this summer’s garment of choice for trendsetters such as Kim Kardashian West, Emily Ratajkowski and Sofia Richie — well, journalistic duty called.
With my coworkers egging me on, I went all in and snagged a scoop-neck leopard-print version of the celeb fave from Forever 21 for $18. I slipped it on in the office bathroom and took stock of my new purchase.
It was a monstrosity. Like an old-school men’s bathing garment spent a weekend pounding tequila in Atlantic City. I was essentially in underwear.
I started mentally preparing for the main event, which involved going out and strutting my stuff in buttoned-up Midtown. There was no hiding anything in this freaky catsuit, as every bit of bloat, roll and jiggle was on full display. Also: I definitely should have peed before putting it on.
Against my better judgment, I ventured out to be an animal-printed pariah in New York City.
My stroll didn’t start off well. A group of NYPD cops took one look at me and snickered. Confidence-booster!
I felt exposed, with the breeze grazing my chest and my shoulders, reminding me that I’d left all my cozy, granny-chic layers back at my desk. Without pockets, I had no idea what to do with my hands. I waited for more stares, finger-pointing and pitchforks.
But they never came.
One man, an American who lived in Paris, thought the romper was downright prudish. “You should see what the women wear there,” he said. “Much sexier.”
Where was all the attention I wanted to complain about?
I decided to loosen up. Given the ensemble’s athleisure vibe, I set up for some yoga in Bryant Park. Even when I was bent over in an alfresco downward dog, no one seemed to care very much.
In fact, the attention I got was mostly positive. One supportive stranger told me he loved the romper, saying it was “so fun.”
The costumed woman handing out fliers for “Waitress” in Times Square liked it, too. It put things in perspective: At least I didn’t have to wear a pie on my head for my job.
And so I decided to embrace my new look.
I caught a glimpse of myself in a storefront reflection. “Damn,” I told myself, “you look good.”
To put the outfit to the ultimate test, I decided to brave the swanky rooftop bar at the Times Square Edition Hotel. I swapped out my sneakers for heels and added a neon-orange jacket that had me pining for my usual rotation of oatmeal cardigans.
Again, the joke was on me. While serving me a gin and tonic, a bartender told me I looked no different than his typical clientele.
One older woman, a New Yorker who now lives in Florida, couldn’t stop staring. She said I was just about the cutest thing she’d ever seen.
I asked her if this style would work outside of NYC. “Boston, Florida, London — honey, that would look good anywhere,” she said.
She might be right, but I’d prefer to be my best granny self. Though at least now I know I won’t die if the top button pops off my cardigan.
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