Radical Chic: What to Wear on Sunday


Planning on attending the anti-RNC demo next Sunday? (And if you aren’t, you should be.) Many, many marchers alas, will not care a fig about what they’re wearing as they raise their angry voices in protest. But what if you have your heart set on looking jaunty as you take to the streets? (After all, there’ll be cameras everywhere.)

If this sounds like you, why not follow these simple suggestions:

Don’t feel you must wear the standard demonstration uniform of jeans and tee—a very cheap vintage dress bought from an outside, $10 rack in the East Village is also good protest garb. If you do opt for a slogan tee, why not customize it with scissors for an anarcho-Flashdance look? (We’ve never actually successfully executed this snipping ourselves, but that’s no reason you shouldn’t try it.)

If it’s a very hot, sunny day, you can wear something belly-baring and write slogans right on your tummy for a body-as-billboard effect. (It sure beats lugging a sign, which can get awfully heavy after a few blocks.) Replace your ugly sneakers with a pair of $5 Chinese slippers from Pearl River on Broadway in Soho—not the net ones, too flimsy, but the embroidered black ones. They’re flat and comfy and if they end the day the worse for wear you can always toss them. (Though in truth they are remarkably durable.)

Follow the National Lawyer’s Guild’s advice about not wearing any jewelry: In the worst-case scenario—you’re arrested in a sweep—you don’t want to lose Grandma’s lavaliere. Still, you will want a wristwatch, so you can meet up with comrades you’ll inevitably lose in the crush. Pick up a cheap repro Cartier tank on Canal—usually $10 or less, and a fun way to comment on corporate greed while demonstrating against the evils of capitalism.

Make sure your handbag, or knapsack, is cheap and light, since you’ll be lugging it all day. You’ll want your phone, of course, and sunscreen, and an umbrella if there’s the merest threat of rain, but have you also planned to include those staples necessary should the outing culminate in an unexpected police detention? (Not to be alarmist or anything, but we still don’t have a rally permit.) So be prepared: don’t forget the extra contact lens solution and a clean pair of undies.

Lastly, leave the credit cards at home! There’ll be nothing to buy on the march route except buttons, banners, and, if you’re lucky, a slice of pizza, and the vendors only take cash.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 17, 2004

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