Paul usually writes about technology, but he writes about travel too. He’s currently on a year-long road trip around the states. While on the road, he’s keeping an eye on the style of the places he visits. Read his previous dispatches from Boston, Phoenix, and Wisconsin. Follow his other adventures on drivinginertia.com.
If you want to blend in in Southern California do this: get in your car and get on your cell phone. Honestly, this is how people interact here. Send a text, get on Google Maps to check the traffic, whatever . Sure, it’s illegal, but that doesn’t stop anybody. I talked with my friend Ellen to get below the surface of Southern California style. She’s lived in the area for nearly the past decade, spending the first bit in San Diego before recently moving to the epicenter, Los Angeles.
What are the differences between what men wear in LA vs. SD?
The main thing is that San Diego is more casual overall. It has a pretty serious beach / surfer vibe going . . . even those who aren’t beachy surfers wear board or cargo shorts with flip flops pretty regularly. (I struggle to imagine the flip flop ever totally falling out of vogue in San Diego.) LA has a bit more diversity in men’s attire. You definitely see more men with actual shoes instead of sandals. T-shirts appear to be less common, as well, in favor of light sweaters over button-down shirts. Overall, men seem to be a bit more pulled together (fashion-wise, at least) in LA.
Are there any clothing items that seem to be specific to southern CA?
There are definitely things that have “in” and “out” cycles in the rest of the country that seem never to totally fall “out” here. Flip flops are one example, another is Ugg boots. Yes, men wear Ugg boots here . . . though they generally fail to pull them off any better than most women .
Owning multiple pairs of sunglasses is the norm. They are, after all, your primary accessory, no matter how casual or formal the rest of your outfit. Another one for men is the knitted winter hat . . . worn in all seasons except winter, since we don’t really have winter here. Just wearing a t-shirt and shorts? Why let that stop you from pulling off some stylish winter head gear?
Can you tell a person’s job by his style of dress?
It’s easier to do in LA than it was in SD. In San Diego, after 5PM, guys generally change into something appropriate for exercise, or put on the above-mentioned SD uniform of shorts, flip flops, and t-shirt.
At the Pizza Port on a Thursday night, you could just as easily be talking to a businessman pulling in $500K a year as you could to a 34-year-old college drop-out still living with his ex-girlfriend in Ocean Beach because he has no job, no means of supporting himself, has no desire to acquire any of those things, and she hasn’t kicked him out yet.
Is there anything else worth mentioning about Southern California style?
Will the slightly-too-small t-shirt with an ironic or silly statement/picture ever go out of style? More to the point, is it unique to SoCal? I’m not sure. Something I dislike about the SoCal weather situation is the lack of real opportunity it provides for winter-level outerwear. People (both men and women) still wear winter jackets and coats but always inappropriately (wool peacoats in 65-degree rain, for example.) I was always a fan of a man in a peacoat or properly-fitted trench coat when I lived in the Midwest, but there’s something about wearing it in the “wrong” conditions that ruins the entire look for me. Strangely, the admittedly out-of-place winter hat with t-shirt doesn’t really bother me. Make of that what you will.
Who’s buying a pair of Uggs? Or is California getting too casual? Also, keep track of Paul w/ following @drivinginertia
Necessary CA driving accessory: Phone to your ear. Photo Credit: Lord Jim