Stroll or sit in a street-side cafe and you'll be treated to an eccentric street-fashion parade.

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WATCHING THE world go by is one of the great pleasures of traveling, especially when the locals are outlandishly dressed.

Stroll or sit in a street-side cafe in trendy neighborhoods of Tokyo, New York, Paris or London and you’ll be treated to an eccentric street-fashion parade.

In Manhattan, wacky shoes and stockings can take the prize, especially during the twice-yearly New York Fashion Week (the next one is Sept. 6-13). Local fashionistas dress up more than ever, down to their head-turning foot- and leg-wear (above), even if they can’t wangle a ticket to a cutting-edge fashion show.

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My favorite urban people-watching is in Tokyo, where punk Lolitas come out in force on weekends in the Harajuku district. Young Japanese women flit about in baby-doll dresses and gobbed-on black eye makeup, ripped stockings and pouty lipsticked mouths. Guys strut in greaser-style pointy shoes, skintight pants and pompadours. Mix in kids in skater gear and artfully tattered kimonos over fluorescent leggings, and there’s always something to watch.

Just don’t try to join the alternative crowd. In London years ago, I headed for a punk nightclub decked out in a black leather micro-skirt, semi-mohawked hair and lurid green eye shadow. Amid a crowd of safety-pin-pierced dancers, their ripped clothing baring almost all and their chain-draped torsos writhing, no one gave me a second look. Not even a first look.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at

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