Who’s the Flyest of Them All?

It Depends Where You Live, D.C. Youth Say

Washington, D.C., is like no other city in the nation. It’s the seat of the federal government, the home of the president, a major metropolis and a college town. To grow up in the District is a unique experience, and many D.C. youth express their uniqueness through their personal style of dress.

“Everybody wants to be fly,” Deseanna Grant, 17, of Northwest D.C. said. “Going to school everyday is like going to a fashion show.”

Grant attends McKinley Technology High School in Northeast D.C. where students are required to wear uniforms. Uniforms would generally cramp a student’s style, but Grant spruces hers up by putting a purple sweater over her white collared shirt to match the plaid purple uniform skirt. She also added black leggings and black mid-calf boots to complete the outfit. She said that she’s not particular about brands as long as the clothes look good on her.

Grant and her friend, Shaena Horner, 19, of Northeast D.C., said that you can tell what part of D.C. a person is from by the way they dress. Southeast residents stick out in particular, they said. According to Grant and Horner, Southeast youth wear a lot of bright colors and usually have more unique hairstyles than other Washingtonians.

“Sometimes you’ll see a girl on the Metro, and you’ll think ‘They must be from the south side,'” Grant said. Deidra Burwell and Tameka Pettus are 18-year-old Southeast residents. “Southeast has its own style. It’s more urban, rough and colorful,” Pettus said. “Colors are cute. You look plain and old when you don’t wear colors.”

The pair said that they shop everywhere from Target to Nordstrom. “It’s good to have variety,” Burwell said.

Kevin Howard, 17, of Northeast D.C., said that with D.C. fashion it’s “every man for himself.” He sports a pair of gold and purple high-top Nikes sold exclusively in Japan. “I like bold colors,” he said. He bought his shoes from www.vintagekicks.com where he buys a lot of his footwear because of the exclusivity of the merchandise.

While Howard is choosy about what he buys, he’s not particular about the way he puts an outfit together. “I just grabbed the first thing I saw in the closet,” he said about his ensemble of a purple, green and gold plaid shirt, dark denim jeans, and an orange and blue N.Y. Mets baseball cap.

Dunice Thomas, 22, also of Northeast, is of like mind with Howard in the notion that exclusivity is key to D.C. fashion. “If you see someone else wearing it, you don’t really want it,” Thomas said. “Everybody in D.C. does something different. Everyone tries to stand out.”

Thomas supported Grant and Horner’s view that youth from different parts of the city dress differently. “We don’t like to look like everybody else [in Northeast]. We stay the freshest,” Thomas said.

Thomas said that the trend of D.C. males wearing their hair in locs is part of being different and wanting to wear their hair long without having cornrows. Whatever you wear in D.C., he said, you have to “seis it,” make it your own and put your personal touch on it.

Chris Parker, 22, also of Northeast, said that he hops store to store and looks for “things you haven’t seen before.” Parker, Thomas and their friend Sheena Brown noted some popular brands in the District. Northface coats and snow pants are the most popular winter apparel in D.C., they said, while noting that Nike boots are worn during all seasons because of their durability and warmth. Brown said that track jackets are also popular as well as “baby polo” shirts.

“Big shirts are played out,” Thomas said. “Girls don’t like guys with big shirts.”