When Petula Clark sang about going downtown, she probably didn’t envision the people, smells, or the wardrobe choices of dirrrty 6th in Austin, TX. Clark muses about the pretty neon signs and bright lights of her downtown fantasy. The reality of going downtown as an early twenty-something now includes more black spandex, eyeliner, and treacherously high heels than party-goers of the ‘60s would have ever imagined.
I’ve been downtown fewer times than I can count on one hand, but I would need to borrow my friends’ hands to count how many times I’ve almost seen people’s naughty-bits spilling over or under their unproductive garments. It’s obvious that most people downtown are more concerned with showing their ass than their class, but I’m just not built to dress that way. No, really. If you put me in a stretchy tube dress and some platform stilettos, I’ll look like Gumby wearing a rubber-banded napkin.
This isn’t to say that I don’t want to show off what little goods I’ve got when I go out. I just know that I can’t depend on stores like Rave and A’Gaci to attractively cover my frame. Now, don’t think you’re going to see me dancing it up in Mooseknuckle wearing a parka. Here are some things I consider when dressing myself to venture downtown.
Instead of showing all the skin, I try to pick an area to accentuate. If my skirt hits above my mid-thigh, I try to cover my arms. Am I going somewhere that I want to show off the tattoo on my back? You won’t see me wearing a bare-tummy crop top. I like clothes a lot more than I like my body, so I feel more comfortable covering up my arms and chest in a slouchy off-the-shoulder shirt with dark-denim hot pants than a dress held together with a zipper and some string.
I don’t know about other streets downtown, but 6th is made of cobblestone. I’ve been wearing heels on a frequent basis since I was a freshman in high school, but even I can’t walk from bar to bar without getting my stiletto stuck in a crack. Before my 21st birthday I bought the most comfortable pair of wedges in a beige-brown that can be worn with pretty much any other color. I’m also finding that flat sandals are not only practical, but totally acceptable to wear when bar-hopping. This weekend I’ll be traversing across the vast downtown area for a couple of friends’ birthdays and I’ll definitely be rocking some flat American Eagle sandals.
Last, but not least, I’ve learned that less make-up downtown is more. And preferable. Whether you’re just sweating it up dancing at a bar or two with some friends or you’re that girl lying on the cobblestone because your stiletto got stuck in a crack and your drunk friends didn’t notice you were gone, you will look significantly less plastered if you don’t have blue eye shadow and Revlon’s Ravish Me Red lipstick dripping down your face.
I’m not saying I won’t have too much to drink this weekend or that I won’t fall walking in my sandals anyway, but these are some things I keep in mind pre-Tequila shot so that I can at least prevent looking like such a hot mess when the night ends.