It’s quite impossible to compare personal style from city to city in a holistic sense. Within metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York, there are pockets distinct from one another, making each geographical location complex and diverse. I’ve witnessed firsthand that the way women living in Santa Monica dress themselves is vastly dissimilar than women in Silver Lake, and the outfits you see in Midtown aren’t close to what you’d see in SoHo. This is probably not groundbreaking news to you, but it’s an important facet I think people tend to sweep aside when holding West Coast and East Coast styles up against each other. My point? The observations below are based on the aforementioned pockets I’ve personally spent time in within Los Angeles and New York, so if you’ve witnessed an entirely separate set of style observations, share them with me in the comments, because I want to know!
I moved to New York earlier this summer after living in Los Angeles for 10 years, which was exciting on several levels, but particularly because I knew not only would I be immersed in a fresh set of outfit ideas, I also figured my personal style would evolve and adapt. The thing everyone kept saying to me was that New Yorkers only wear black, so I ventured east thinking I’d jump into a sea of noir, opaque looks. So far, this hasn’t exactly been the case. New Yorkers definitely stick to a darker palette of neutrals, but they also strategically introduce pops of print or color. In Los Angeles, there is definitely a stronger presence of bright colors, prints (especially florals and animal), and an overall lighter approach to dressing year round.
This category is where I’ve experienced the largest differences. In New York, accessories are important. Vital! The bags you carry, the shoes you walk in, and even the hats you wear. In Los Angeles, they’re certainly part of the look, but more of an add-on than a necessity. Firstly: the tote bag. Practically every woman in New York has a carryall to hold whatever an Angeleno would simply keep in her car. Secondly: commuter shoes. In case you missed my roundup of stylish commuters, have a quick look! I mention that I’d never considered footwear to be a secondary mode of transportation, but now I get it. What you walk in is important in New York, and the shelf life of heels is definitely shortened (boo!). Women wear sneakers and loafers with dresses here, and it’s pretty awesome. In Los Angeles, there are a lot more toes out and about by way of sandals and heels. When it comes to hats, it seems like the bigger iterations are worn on the West Coast (e.g., straw boaters), but over here, you see more baseball caps and beanies.
When it comes to the way women assemble their outfits, it definitely seems like New Yorkers are more methodical. Not in a way that makes their outfits look studied, but they’ve got more layers and elements that, in my opinion, make dressing a wee bit more fun. Angelenos tend to pare down their ensembles, and there’s definitely a lot more denim worn there than in New York.
To recap, I think a major contributing factor to why the way women dress in these two cities is so different is due to seasonality. You don’t have to worry about a midday thunderstorm in Los Angeles, so you’re not going to be layering as much as a New Yorker has to. I also think the cultural influences come into play. Thanks to Laurel Canyon and Malibu, you see a lot of bohemian-inspired style on the West Coast, and on the East Coast, there’s an undeniable presence of prep and also rock and roll. Though it’s only been a few months, I’ve already recognized these differences, and I look forward to observing even more down the road!
Equipment Cropped Short Sleeve Signature Shirt ($298)