There’s something about Manhattan women. They may not have the effortless chic of les femmes de Paris but that’s also part of their charm. The women of this borough (women from Brooklyn, the Bronx, etc., also look great but I’ve studied the Manhattan species more closely) work at looking good. And as a result many look youthful and polished from their teens into old age. Yes, more than a few have dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons to thank for their freshness, and there are some attributes particular to New York City that help Manhattanites look their best. But Manhattan mesdames also tend to practice certain habits we can all take to our own hometowns. Find out what they are by checking out the looking-young secrets of Manhattan women listed below:
- Exercise is part of their daily lives.
Even on the tony Upper East Side, you see women regularly in yoga and running clothes. Where are they headed? Could be to one of the city’s diverse range of fitness facilities, such as SoulCycle, the trendy studio chain that combines cycling class with inspirational coaching, a Zumba workout at the 92ndStreet Y, or to their Bikram practice or a ballet barre session. The point is New York City offers fitness options for almost every taste and budget.
2. They treat the city as a gym.
Despite the previous point, women here don’t rely solely on gyms for fitness. For most Manhattanites, daily life requires a combination of brisk walking and climbing numerous sets of stairs, both things that net extensive cumulative health benefits.
And in their free time, many seem to seek out the city’s parks for exercise. Whether walking the High Line, a park built on an historic elevated freight-rail line, or running by the East River, New Yorkers combine seeing their city with exercise. When they’re not working it in green spaces, they may just speed-walk in the hood. The bonus? Changing up workout venues keeps it interesting, so exercisers are more likely to keep at it.
- They use competition to their benefit.
Back-stabbing, stepping on toes = bad competition. But when used positively, competition can keep you accountable and provide incentive to be your best.
While the challenging nature of New York City means the majority of its denizens tend to be the Type A variety, there are times when this competitive influence can be beneficial.
For example, when I’m in Manhattan I try to do at least one jog around Central Park’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. And more than once a fellow exerciser has seemed not to like it when I pass her or him, and so speeds up and then passes me. And despite my fairly mellow nature, that makes me want to do the same thing back. Do I want to get to know one of these park passers? Probably not, but the result is I keep a faster pace than I would if left to my own devices.
New-York-style competition also helps keep one polished. Manhattan’s population density means that whether you’re on the subway or in a lineup at Bloomie’s, you’re constantly immersed in humanity. Seeing close-up how put-together many New York women are has the effect (at least for me) of keeping one on one’s (pedicured) toes style-wise.
- Grooming is non-negotiable.
Manhattan is home to loads of über wealthy people, so a first-time visitor may think disposable cash is the reason every woman seems to have a fresh mani and pedi. But the truth is this borough makes grooming super easy. Yes there’s Orlando Pita’s Orlo salon offering an $800 haircut, but salons in that stratosphere are far outnumbered by ones where you can get a $30 blow dry.
As for nail salons, there are numerous venues (often on more residential and workaday blocks) offering extremely affordable prices. My most recent Manhattan manicure cost $9 U.S. and lasted a week.
In addition to wallet-friendly prices, most nail and hair salons are open seven days a week and often into the evening. While the hours probably aren’t easy on the staff, they do make it convenient for women to fit grooming into a New York minute.
- They pamper themselves regularly.
There’s no doubt New York City can be a tough place to live. The pace, the noise, the daily stress all take their toll. But I’ve noticed that Manhattan women seem to find ways to treat themselves. Most of the nail salons discussed above offer chair massages (usually for about $10), which about half of customers seem to indulge in.
Manhattan women also love the salon blowout. While the appearance and convenience benefits of having a professional wash and style your hair are obvious, there’s a nurturing aspect as well. The chance to just sit, read a magazine and relax for an hour is a welcome timeout from the hustle of the Big Apple.
6. The city itself has made healthy-living part of its culture.
When you think of health-obsessed cities, Vancouver or L.A. may spring to mind. But the fact is New Yorkers live 2.4 years longer than the U.S. national average. Having a mayor who’s a health zealot has certainly helped the cause. While some say Michael R. Bloomberg’s initiatives to post calorie counts in chain restaurants, (failed campaign to) limit soft-drink sizes, as well as ban the use of trans fats in restaurants and smoking in public spaces are creating a nanny state, he’s definitely got people thinking and talking more about health.
But even without Bloomberg, many aspects of the city promote youthfulness. As mentioned above, most New Yorkers walk to navigate the city, an activity most can do to old age.
NYC, despite its rep for pizza and other decadent food, is also loaded up with healthy food options. You find that people here depend less on fast-food chains and more on independent delis and salad bars with lots of fresh-food choices.
- They don’t let clothes wear them.
So you’ll frequently see women here from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds wearing basics (e.g., from J. Crew or Banana Republic) punched up with a statement handbag, great shoes and stylish shades. No less a diva than Ramona from The Real Housewives of New York City seems to follow this approach as I witnessed a couple of months ago in a Gap on the Upper East Side.
The effect of this simple yet stylish approach is that Manhattan women seem to want to show themselves before their clothes. And that confidence keeps them looking (almost) ageless.
While we all can’t (and some of us may not want to) live in New York City, there is something here that’s somewhat of a fountain of youth. So whether it’s getting a regular mani or walking in a local park, let some of these looking-young secrets of Manhattan women work for you, wherever you are.