I am a California girl, born and raised. My departures from the sunshine state have only been in the form of quick family vacations. Although these adventures outward have provided me with inspiration when it comes to fashion and writing, I have to say that most of what I know, I've learned from home.
Still, I am part of a large and diverse population, and I have moved up and down the state, taking fashion notes as I went. For years, I lived in Southern California. This was up until I went to college. Now, I have transformed into a Northern California girl. I can tell you that wardrobe-wise, the two sides of the state could not be more different. I'm going to take Cali's two major cities and pit them against each other. When it comes to Los Angeles versus San Francisco, who is more fashion forward?
Los Angeles: Like every city, people are always in a rush. Traffic makes life worse, and changes time itself. Hours of the workday are spent in the car when commuting. In my opinion, this makes the people of Los Angeles more casual dressers. Mild weather does not allow for many layers, and thus lightweight fabrics create a relaxed, earthy feel. People want and need to feel comfortable. This need has caused designers to get creative with what used to be called "workout wear." Sports have become stylized. Running shoes are found in hot pink, leggings and casual tees are hip with atypical cuts and zipper details, which look not just workout ready but runway ready. But this does not mean that LA is always cute and casual -- it is also the queen of sexy. Where else can we get away with wearing a (really) little black dress in November? When LA dresses up, it goes all out. Name brands are flaunted, dresses are drenched in rock 'n' roll sex appeal.
Although I have been trying to put LA fashion in a category, it is difficult. Walking down the street, I see everything from studs to pearls. Like the actors that fill Hollywood, people seem to fit one role, and then change their look in a heartbeat. It is a city of transformation.
San Francisco: I never thought I would be an SF girl. I remember the first time I experienced what I used to call the ice wind" that blows throughout the bay. I needed a whole new wardrobe. In San Francisco, fashion is built upon the city. It is eclectic and constantly in motion. Every district has a different fashion voice, creating a collage of colors and textures that can only be seen when taking a step back and admiring the whole tapestry from afar. Layers are a must. This means that getting dressed becomes an artwork in itself. Everything needs to be put together perfectly. When mixing jackets, scarves and hats, there is a lot of room for innovation, and also for mistakes. I have seen some of the most amazing style icons in San Francisco, as well as some of the most devastating fashion train-wrecks. It is not just fashion -- it is a mix of old and new architecture.
I cannot speak for San Franciscans, but I can tell you the general feeling I got from living in the city. I felt that it was a city of building blocks, each person, building, artwork, article of clothing, building on the next creating a feeling of longevity and real personality.
Neither city can be summed up in such simple paragraphs. Each has a fashionable voice all its own. Who is the fashion winner? That is for you to decide.