I didn't even know there was a name for what I've been doing for the last 13 years or so until a few days ago. I was reading the Baltimore Sun, specifically the Dan Rodricks column. The article was about a man who moved to Baltimore so he could rent a 2 bedroom apt. and take in a street couple for free.
Anyhow the man says that when he gets home from work he walks through the tent towns of Baltimore city to talk to and learn about the homeless and their stories. These tents are temporary shelters for the homeless people. When he mentioned that he changes when he gets home and "dresses street" before going out, I thought, "who knew it had a name!"
But when I found myself cycling in and out of homelessness in the deadly Baltimore region in summer of 95 and carless I quickly learned that it's important to look really plain, wear good walking shoes, no jewelry, and nothing that anyone else is going to want to steal. Sometimes it scares me to get complimented on something I'm wearing, (someone might want to steal it) This came true recently, as someone complimented my bus pass i.d. holder that I wear around my neck. I thought, "uh oh" And in December it was stolen right here in the library of the university! I have not replaced it. Carlessness is such a close kin to homelessness and is a strong motivator to "dress street" even though i am no longer technically homeless.
What a challenge it is to dress for the weather, dress for the muggers, and dress professionally if you have to go to work! When I see women dressed up, in flip flops, in high heels etcetera I always think how spoiled they are to not have to "dress street!"