I Just Moved From New York to L.A. and Already Dress So Differently—Here's How


(Image credit: @indyabrown)

Like a lot of people last year, my life was completely uprooted in the midst of the pandemic. Not only did I land a new job in Los Angeles, but I also took on a move across the country from Brooklyn to a city I had barely been to before. Moving to L.A. had always been on my bucket list, but there's nothing like a lockdown to make you realize how valuable space and easy access to the outdoors can be. So after selling or donating every piece of furniture I own, I made the trek from New York City to the West Coast.

I quickly realized a few things: Umbrellas and heavy boots are obsolete, and it's almost always chilly after dark no matter how warm it is during the day. That meant editing out a ton of my winter boots and coats and adopting versatile pieces that can withstand the daily oscillation between blaring sun and cool nights. During the process of settling into my new city (I have always been an East Coast girl), I had a lot more wardrobe epiphanies that lead me to completely reconfigure my closet. No doubt, the pandemic played a role in a few of these changes, but the cultural shift from hyperactive urban life to relaxed West Coast life was the biggest factor. To see all of the swaps and changes I've made while adapting to my new lifestyle, keep scrolling. 

1. Buh-Bye, Blazers

It really hurts to say this, but my current blazer collection doesn't get much play like it used to. There almost wasn't a day where I wouldn't wear one as a New Yorker, but after moving to L.A., I have opted for languid layers that feel less structural and stuffy. The perfect illustration? A big button-down that functions as a pseudo-jacket as well as a statement piece with shiny metal jewelry. The oversize shirt also happens to be a big trend right now, so I've been shopping them in all kinds of patterns and colors.

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2. Sneaker Domination

It may seem a bit counterintuitive to be so into sneakers after moving from the pedestrian paradise that is New York City, but trust me when I say that Los Angeles is all about being comfortable and low-key. Heeled boots and sandals were a major part of my daily uniform working as fashion editor in New York, but during the few times I've worn them out in L.A., they felt out of place amid the casual vibe. Of course, I still bring out my towering stilettos for fancy occasions, but it has to be really worth it.

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3. Sweatsuits Are My New Suits

Even before the pandemic, Angelenos were famous embracers of the power sweatsuit. It didn't take long for me to take heed and adopt it for myself. While I'm a person who likes to dress a bit more formally than most on the day-to-day (think elevated accessories and upgraded basics), even I couldn't resist the ease of throwing on a comfy pair of sweatpants when running to grab a coffee or to the farmer's market.

Shop sweatsuits:

4. Lightweight Dresses Are Key

There's a science to wearing a dress in New York: It shouldn't be so short that you're constantly tugging at it all day while out and about, yet it should be versatile enough to go from the office to after-work drinks or anything in between. Midi dress will always have prime real estate in my closet, but the styles I gravitate toward now are lighter and breezier and are usually some sort of cheery print or color. The West Coast way is all about looking like you're about to head to a casual garden party (minus the tiny finger sandwiches).

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5. Denim, Denim, and More Denim

There's a good reason why so many great denim brands come out of California—it's an essential part of the sartorial DNA. Needless to say, people take it quite seriously. Whether it's a denim jacket or jeans, my collection has definitely expanded since my arrival on the West Coast. Since the L.A. crowd eschews darker colors, it's no surprise that light and mid-blue vintage washes reign supreme. Paired with a white tee and statement sunglasses, it's the ideal outfit for walks to the beach or around the city.

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6. Airy Blouses

I'm no stranger to a statement top, and it's one of my former New York style staples that I have adapted since landing in L.A. Before, high necklines, polished collars, and sleek knit bodysuits fit that definition, but now, airy blouses with interesting cutouts are my top priority. A good frame of reference would be the milkmaid top—but with a dash of '70s style and in an array of pastel colors.

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7. Long Live the Mini Bag

Even when I wanted to, I couldn't really jump on the tiny-bag trend as a New Yorker. It's incredibly impractical when, at any given moment, you're carrying a full wallet, keys, extra change, hand sanitizer, and an umbrella. If you're planning for a day out and about around the city, you can also forget it since accumulating items during the day is a given. Right now, my car has become my holder of personal items, so I can confidently carry a tiny bag without fear of missing something. Even when I'm on foot in L.A., I carry so much less than I used to as an East Coast city girl.

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Coming up: Meet the 30 Prettiest Beach Dresses of Summer 2021

Fashion Market Editor

Indya Brown is a fashion editor, stylist, and writer living in Los Angeles. While going to school at Columbia University in New York City, she got her feet wet in the fashion industry interning at Elle magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and New York magazine's The Cut. After graduating in 2016, she joined The Cut as a fashion assistant, eventually working her way up to fashion editor. There, she worked on a multitude of projects, including styling inbook feature stories for New York magazine's print issue, writing and pitching market stories for The Cut, and serving as fashion lead for The Cut's branded content. While New York has been her home for over 10 years, she moved to Los Angeles in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 for a new chapter. Now she is a fashion market editor for Who What Wear, focusing on emerging designers, rising trends on and off the internet, interior design, and BIPOC creatives and brands. Aside from her duties as a fashion market editor, Brown is also a freelance stylist and writer, working on national print and video commercial campaigns for Sephora, The Independent, and Cadillac. Her bylines also include Harper's Bazaar, Vox, and The New York Times. But once the computer goes down and the emails turn off, she's likely eating her way through Koreatown, hunting down vintage furniture, scoping out new outrageous nail designs to try, or taking a hot cycling class.