It’s summer 2024 and this genetically predisposed city kid is once again happily roaming Manhattan’s upper west side, walking Sam the dog, and gawking. As a confessed non-reader of fashion magazines or the New York Times Styles section, there is still no place like a big city to discover the current trends in female apparel. The sidewalks are a veritable runway, with scores of young women reflecting what’s hip this season.

This energetic  neighborhood is home to gaggles of young Xs, Ys, and Zs, but with an adequate number of those us  who look like their chaperones to assure me that I still belong on this planet. I’m stumped, however, by how all these 20-somethings can afford the rent. Perhaps that is a clue to their outfits. I will explain.

Two years ago, in my first urban outfitter report, I noted that the fashion statement of the day was the bellybutton. The hot look was crop tops accompanied by bottoms that rested just below the navel. Whether the bottoms were short skirts or baggy cargo pants, exposed navels were in (or out).

In 2023 it was all about the breast. Bras, bikini tops and backless blouses were all the rage. Wear a blouse or a jacket, but don’t button it. And make sure the blouse was sheer.

And now, in 2024, as I stroll the city streets, I have drawn these conclusions. The gym business must be flourishing. Peloton sales are through the roof. And exercise videos are on back order. Work-out wear is the order of the day.

Gym clothes are no longer reserved for the gym. If you want to look hot (no pun intended) this summer, simply step out of the dressing room at Lulu Lemon and onto the sidewalk. Oh, and don’t forget to remove the tags.

Tight-fitting bottoms, exercise bras, mostly black, and bare midriffs are this summer’s urban chic. The bottoms can be long or short, but they must be clingy. And once again, as in the two years prior, this look is not limited to the thinnest among us. Fuller-figured women would also have us believe they are either coming from or going to Zumba class.

So, am I to take away from all of this Spandex that these young women have found religion in their dedication to physical fitness, or is this look merely feigning a righteous life?

I’m reminded of a time when we owned a house near a beach. And that beach suddenly became a very popular surfing destination. The entire town became filled with cars with surf boards attached to the roofs. All the cool people it seemed rode around with surf boards. I started to feel like an outsider. Being somewhat fearful of the ocean waters I never considered learning to surf. But should that stop me from driving around town with a board atop my SUV?

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not judging the wardrobe choices, merely observing. And poking a little fun. I’m sure if I wrote a note to my younger self I would tell her to go for the look. Gym wear as street wear that is, not surfboards on cars.

But I think I understand how the rent is paid. When your wardrobe needs are limited to tights and workout bras there’s likely room in the budget for groceries as well. At least until winter arrives!

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