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Dear Shopping Savage,
I was born and raised on the East Coast but recently moved to L.A. for work. I've visited before for fun and to see friends but I'm just noticing how differently they dress out here. What's the best way to translate my East Coast flare to my new West Coast surroundings?
New York So Cal Gal
Each coast definitely has its own sense of culture, climate and clothing. The East Coast has a reputation for having a much tougher edge when it comes to fashion. Most associate structured looks, standout accessories, chic outerwear, all-black outfits and an overall nod to dressing with style and attitude as the East Coast aesthetic. The West Coast, on the other hand, is thought of as having a much more relaxed sense of style. Think sun-kissed locks, ethereal dresses, minimal jewelry, eternal tans and the overall impression that life is one big beach party.
However, fashion today is as fluid as the water that touches each coast. Traveling between the two for work or pleasure has never been easier - save for a few airline restrictions - and combining both coast's styles can be as simple as pairing your East Coast rock with the West Coast's roll-with-the-tide mentality.
Namely, for an East-to-West Coast blended look, you'll want to do a little research. "People watching" is a shared past-time for both coasts, and now you can put this "skill" to good use. You'll be able to view first-hand what trends are currently being worn around town and which you would consider duplicating via a shopping spree or just by re-imagining how to wear what's already in your closet. You will also find that the local alternative weekly papers are a great barometer for a sense of the local culture as well as which stores may carry whatever caught your "watching" eyes.
Keep in mind that the idea behind West Coast style is to appear pulled-together without much effort. Take this ideology, and that of Coco Chanel, and once you're done dressing, remove one accessory. It will give your outfit an air of ease parallel to that of your new surrounding's laid-back flair. Also, be sure to take advantage of the many vintage stores and consignment shops in the area. They typically serve as great places to start looking when experimenting with your style.
Depending on how long you stay planted out West, the style-pairing will become second nature. Even though the coastal characteristics are still somewhat true, once you feel comfortable incorporating your new working-knowledge of how the west wears it, you'll realize that the fashions aren't as different so much as the attitudes behind them. You can be an East Coast girl with an adopted West Coast aesthetic and vice verse. Just remember to stick with what feels natural to wear and go with the flow. There is a reason the West Coast is three-hours behind EST and the sun sets there: it's geographically impossible to contend with the laissez-fair grandeur, so don't. Besides, you're going to need all the strength you can muster if you're ever going to survive rush-hour traffic on the 110.
Everyone wishes they could be California girls but it takes more than blond hair, a tan and a pension for warm weather and salt water. Get the detailed steps here.