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Women dress for other women

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I was floored by Ali Larter's outfit the other night at the Whitney Museum's Young Contemporaries Auction benefit. Here is a bombshell blond, with scrubbed-clean, peaches-and-cream makeup, yet exuding the dark sophistication of New York's fashion elite - in a tiny, body hugger by Herve Leger and a decolletage draw in the form of a major statement necklace. She's not only style du jour, she's pure sexpot. It's a rare perfect storm of tastefully sensual allure and commanding, pretty presence. Bravo, Ali - it's a long way from the whipped cream bikini. Which brings me to my point: as a young woman living in the fashion narcissism capital of the world, New York, I've come to learn what every woman here knows to be true: chic women dress not for men, but for other women (and gay men).

Recently, a friend of mine who also happens to be an editor at a top fashion magazine and a very beautiful girl, accompanied me to the 30th party of a mutual friend. The party was being thrown in honor of a man who's gay and a stylist. The stakes for looking sexy were high, because in our world, the term "sexy" refers to the level of chic. I donned a Thakoon for Target sundress with a hip-slung purple suede belt, black tights and a blazer (this was a few months ago), while my friend wore a blue silk mini dress and black tights. Not surprisingly, we were both wearing booties. We were showing a decent amount of leg, but there were no overt curves and actually, a straight male friend's pre-party opinion was one of confusion over my outfit that he claimed "didn't seem to make sense."

That said, we entered the room of mostly gay men and a gaggle of uber-fashionable women and felt great. If I do say so myself, we had nailed it. As a perceptive ex-boyfriend once said: the freakier and frumpier it is, the more high fashion. Not exactly, but it's a start.

If you're going to go tight, keep the colors muted and if you're hesitating on your way out, afraid of revealing too much, you probably are. Hide behind the chunk of a statement necklace or throw on an androgynous accent like heavy booties or square shoulders.

Envy and lust made easy, just not easy.