In the 1950s, women across the country wore practical, button-down housedresses with tight waists and deep pockets. In the ’80s, shoulder pads were a symbol of power in the workplace, but also up and down supermarket aisles. In the aughts, moms (and their daughters) wore a whole lot of Juicy Couture velour sweatsuits.
For years, black Lululemon yoga pants and Uggs were the axis of the mom uniform, until the media cruelly shamed women out of them.
But in Brooklyn recently, a decidedly more bohemian expression of middle-aged fashion has emerged.
This ensemble is made up of two accessories: Part 1 is the No. 6 clog, which has become ubiquitous in upscale Brooklyn neighborhoods and on celebrities such as Keri Russell, Julianne Moore and Claire Danes.
Part 2 is the Salt strap, a thick, detachable handbag strap woven from bright colors, made to hook onto luxury bags, as Salt’s Instagram account promotes vividly, such as a $2,500 Gucci, a $3,300 Hermès, a $2,600 Celine or a $1,700 Chloé.
Zora Ginsburg, a mother of two and a sales specialist for Rebecca Taylor who lives in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, has been wearing her No. 6 clogs for about eight years. She owns them in many colors — the shearling, the slides, the zip-up boots — and never deviates from the brand. When she’s not wearing No. 6 clogs, she’s wearing Isabel Marant booties and Dr. Martens.
Ginsburg was introduced to the strap by her friend Kacy Lubell, an owner of Salt, and rotates various straps between her Balenciaga, Fendi and Proenza Schouler PS1 bags. (Ginsburg once helped style a Salt shoot and in return received a strap; the rest she paid for.)
Ginsburg was glad to see the strap taking off around Brooklyn and didn’t think that an army of look-alike moms was impeding her look.
“It’s like we’re matching,” she said, noting that the strap reminds her of the woven friendship bracelets she used to make in camp. “It’s a unique way of styling yourself. When I see someone in a strap or a clog I don’t have, I think, ‘That looks good. I want that.’ ”
This wasn’t the intention, to be so matchy. “We view the Salt strap more as a way to make your bag unique,” Lubell wrote in an e-mail. “Customers send us so many bag and strap combinations, and it seems like everyone is wearing it differently.” (Lubell said she “lives” in her No. 6 clogs and her strap.)
Clothing sends a signal
Like the man in the gray flannel suit showed, or the Pink Ladies with their embroidered pink jackets in “Grease,” or the Teddy Girls of London with their rolled-up dungarees and blazers, or, sure, mom jeans, wearing the same clothing sends a signal: On the one hand, it links you to people you want to resemble, and on the other it separates you from people you don’t want to resemble.
The idea that fashion has these conflicting sides was first theorized by sociologist Georg Simmel at the turn of the 20th century, said Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. “It’s like a double-edged knife,” she said. “It made you part of a group, and it also made you an individual away from another group.”
“So you always had that ‘Oh, the horror’ of women in the ’50s when they went to a party and someone was wearing the same dress,” she said. “But I think that overlooks the fact that in many other ways, women wanted other women in their group to be wearing very similar clothes.”
SaSaDi Odunsi, 42, a Brooklyn mother of four and the co-owner of a bead collective, owns two pairs of No. 6 clogs as well as the blue and white Duke Salt strap, which is hooked onto an Oliveve snake-print leather bag.
She bought the strap because her children and Lubell’s children attend school together and she wanted to support a “mom-owned business.” Recently, she has seen a number of women around town wearing the strap/clog combo, which she gets a kick out of.
“There’s a pretty affluent population of parents here, without question, which will help define whether or not people are buying certain things,” Odunsi said. “Because we all know these things cost money. And sometimes when a trend is outrageously expensive, I look around and think, ‘Ooh, there’s a lot of people who can afford a lot of those things.’ ” She lives in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, after all, where the average home goes for about $1.2 million.
Earth-mother message aside, a pair of No. 6 clogs can cost upward of $450, and the strap, at $140, is marketed with bags that 99 percent of women can’t afford.