L.A. vs. NYC vs. Paris: How Different Cities Do Basics

When it comes to cities that girls around the world look to for style inspiration, there are three in particular that immediately come to mind: Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. Coincidentally, each of these cities has a very distinctive unofficial dress code. There are a lot of things that factor into these dress codes, most notably the climate, how people get around, and even prominent industries.

That said, Paris, New York, and L.A. are known for their directional sartorial tendencies and ability to set trends, but what we want to focus on is how stylish girls in these cities do basics. What are their go-to pieces? What are the easy outfits they throw on when they want to look effortlessly cool? We've come up with a special visual depiction of the basic pieces that girls in these three major fashion cities turn to time and again.

Keep scrolling to find out what they are and shop the pieces for your own basics arsenal!


(Image credit: Original Illustration by Laura Worrick for Who What Wear)


L.A. girls can't live without a lightweight denim jacket. It's the perfect option for the casual vibes and temperate climate the sunny city is known for.


A great pair of jeans is perhaps the most important item in an L.A. girl's wardrobe. Look to them to always be wearing the latest styles first.


Hands-free is the natural choice for L.A. girls' favorite activities—weekend flea-market trips and sunset beach strolls included.


Given that it's pretty much sandal season year-round in Southern California, they're a footwear staple in every form and for every occasion.


(Image credit: Original Illustration by Laura Worrick for Who What Wear)


Fact: New Yorkers wear black leather moto jackets with everything. They lend the perfect amount of edge that city girls are routinely seeking.


New York girls have the innate ability to dress leather leggings up or down, making them just as suitable for running errands as they are for a night on the town.


Without a car, NYC girls rely on their bag to get them through the day, hence the plethora of backpack-toting girls in every neighborhood. 


Ankle boots are sleek enough to remain appropriate for pretty much any occasion yet sturdy and comfortable enough to pound the pavement all day. Plus, they look great with leather moto jackets…

Related: You Won't Catch French Women Wearing These Items Post-30


(Image credit: Original Illustration by Laura Worrick for Who What Wear)


French girls rely on trench coats to lend an air of sophistication to any outfit. They prefer their outerwear to be classic and polished.


French girls prefer tailored pants in the form of a pair of cropped trousers. Every French icon from Brigitte Bardot to Jeanne Damas has relied on this chic staple.


Thanks to quintessential French fashion house Chanel, a small chain-strap shoulder bag is the satchel of choice for French girls. This fuss-free style seamlessly transitions from day to night.


Nothing screams French girl like a pair of feminine ballet flats. They're perfectly suited to French girls' classic, sophisticated tendencies and serve as the perfect partner to their trademark "trench coat, striped top, and cropped trousers outfit" combination.

Which of these sets of basics do you tend to favor? Tell us in the comments below!

Opening Image: Collage Vintage

Allyson Payer
Senior Editor

Allyson is a senior editor for Who What Wear. She joined the company in 2014 as co-founder Katherine Power's executive assistant and over the years has written hundreds of stories for Who What Wear. Prior to her career in fashion, Allyson worked in the entertainment industry at companies such as Sony Pictures Television. Allyson is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a BFA in theater. Her path to fashion may not have been linear, but based on the number of fashion magazines she collected as a child and young adult, it was meant to be.