The silent feud between the east and west coasts has always been there, but I feel like it was really emphasized when Jay-Z and Alicia Keys came out with “Empire State of Mind,” reppin’ New York, followed by Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” Everyone became fully aware that there really is an unspoken rivalry between the two sides of the United States. They’re like two different worlds. I love traversing galaxies and stuff, doin’ time travel, going on intergalactic adventures…so why not just go to California? It’s essentially the equivalent. In fact, that is exactly where I am going on vacation soon, and being a New Yorker I have some serious issues to mull over in my head. The biggest problem I face (on any trip, really, but this one especially) is: what do I wear?
Putting the whole climate and temperature aspect aside, California culture is very different from that of New York. On the west coast, people are generally chill and laid back; New Yorkers are naturally high-strung, always on the go and unproductively over-productive. You’ll find the occasional group of people in either place that don’t fit the norm, but all in all, these generalizations ring fairly true. Summers in NYC tend to be excruciatingly hot especially when you are on public transportion, smushed up against sweaty passengers wearing minimal amounts of clothing, wheezing, and holding lukewarm bottles of soda. I was in California last June as well, and there was one day when it was one hundred thirteen degrees Fahrenheit…and of course that was the day I decided to wear a black maxi dress. Solid choice. No matter where you are, though, there are certain essentials that will inevitably end up in your summer wardrobe. Here’s a list of the things I’ll be shoving in my overpacked suitcase that just might also get you through the mega hot days in any part of the country, east or west.
SOME GROOVY DENIM CUT OFFS
High waisted, low rise, acid wash, dark wash, Levi’s, 7 For All Mankind, DIY…whatever your preferences are, it is undeniable that denim cut off shorts are a staple in American culture. They’re worn all over the country, so it won’t be such a drastic change if you were to wear them in a different part of the U.S. You can wear them with a t-shirt, a button up shirt, a crop top, a tucked in dress, a kimono, a blouse: the possibilities are literally endless. Depending on your personal style, you can dress them up with some platforms and a blazer or dress them down with some natty sneakers and a cool t-shirt. Whatever floats your boat.
A FRESH MAXI DRESS
This one’s an easy peasy transition piece. I have a few maxis that put me into the bohemian New Yorker crowd sometimes, but could effortlessly double as Californian garments as well. If your dress is all flowy ‘n stuff, its hemline will be perfectly captured and whipped around by the winds along Venice Beach. Just be careful you don’t have a Marilyn Monroe moment. (A Marilyn Monro-ment, if you will). See some great maxis worn by Liz of Late Afternoon.
A PERFECT PAIR PLATFORM SHOES
I refuse to believe that platforms are being phased out. I haven’t enjoyed them to their full extent yet, guys! I don’t like wearing heels because to be honest they kind of hurt; platforms are the ideal alternative because they give you the height you want without all the pain. Now where’s the flaw in that? As long as I can tolerate them I shall wear them, which is why I’m bringing a pair of wooden platform clogs to the west coast with me. They go with just about everything in my wardrobe and presumably yours as well. If you’re more of a heel gal (or guy, no judgement here), you can either treat them as a break and pretend they’re flat shoes, or embrace the height they give you and wear them shamelessly. It’s a win-win, everyone. Winning!
A TOTALLY RAD HAT
Last June, I spent an emotionally difficult afternoon in J.Crew trying to decide between getting a short-brimmed straw hat or going all out and purchasing a floppy hat. If you recall, they were having a moment last year, and I was fully prepared to jump on the bandwagon. My friends talked me out of it, though, and to an extent I’m glad they did. It totally wouldn’t have worked with my hair (hashtag first world problems). I think it might work a little better now, but that hat has been replaced by the straw one I got at J.Crew (see description above) and a baby blue corduroy twenties-style hat. You’ve got to shield your skin and eyes from the sun somehow, right? Why not look like a complete boss while doing so?
SOME FUNKY SUNGLASSES
Speaking of protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays…let’s talk about some funny sunnies, shall we? The Man Repeller (and myself, but these two events were unrelated) wrote a post on her blog about some fantastic sunglasses that were floating around the interwebz. Needless to say, they were highly covetable and entirely out of any working class person’s price range. Eye-protectors should be beautiful in my opinion, which is why I’m one hundred percent sure that I will be packing at least three pairs of sunglasses. I’ve got some heart shaped ones, some subtle cat-eye ones, some I-look-like-I-should-be-piloting-a-small-airplane ones—it’s all there. They can definitely make or break an entire outfit, so let’s make sure they make my outfit and don’t break in my bag. That’s happened a surprisingly innumerable amount of times.
Fashion isn’t so much a territorial thing; it’s all about your personal style. When you’ve got the basics down you can have fun, so why not start from scratch? It’s like making cupcakes without the Betty Crocker mix; I feel like they turn out better when they’re not from a box. And who wants their clothing choices to be associated with boxes in any way? Well, actually…that might not be so bad after all. Tin man chic?
Here’s my challenge to you: wear all five pieces at once. To quote Nike, just do it.