When I moved from L.A. to New York last spring, there were some pretty obvious changes I was anticipating—the icy polar-vortex level winter storms, for one, and things like my work and social lives. Other things, though, were a bit more unexpected: a global pandemic descending on week two of living in NYC and no less surprising, my own wardrobe. Okay, so I could have predicted the latter would change, but after several years as one of Who What Wear’s resident editors already under my belt, how much could my wardrobe really change? It turns out, quite a bit.
Pandemic or not, life in NYC is just too specific to simply copy and paste everything I was used to wearing on the West Coast. Little did I know that a year later, I’d be retiring and prioritizing plenty of style staples in order to adjust to city living. Keep reading to see the seven biggest style differences I noticed.
As a fashion girl, I used to shudder at the thought of sacrificing my outfits for the sake of wearing something more comfortable. But it didn’t take long after relocating to NYC for me to rewire my brain to reach for more walking-friendly footwear. As much as I would love to wear those complicated strappy sandals or my favorite skinny stilettos, it’s my flats and low block heels that get the most wear now.
This might seem obvious, given that most of the year is jacket weather on the East Coast, but I came here with a single wool coat and quickly learned that it wouldn’t cut it. While living in L.A., I mostly wore denim jackets and light blazers as layering pieces, but here I’ve built filled in a lot of gaps with staples like a puffer coat, trench coat, and leather jackets.
If you’ve ever been to L.A. you know what I mean when I say that working out isn’t just an activity, it’s a lifestyle. One of the biggest changes I noticed in my style is how I style my activewear outfits. Whether I’m heading out to a Pilates class or staking out my spot in the Trader Joe’s queue, I still like to look more polished as opposed to my sportier approach in L.A. Usually, that means throwing on a big blazer or trench coat with my leggings instead of a hoodie and sneakers as I was used to doing.
Pandemic or not, one thing that’s remained true about living in NYC is that you walk everywhere and that means carrying enough things to get you through multiple activities. Now, I only carry bags that can actually hold my belongings (sorry to all my mini bags) and have a stack of totes on hand.
The other thing about dressing for the weather here? It’s a guessing game. You might experience multiple seasons within a single day, so layering is key. In L.A., you were guaranteed a 72-and-sunny day almost every day and, not to mention, a car that doubled as a closet (anyone else or just me?) so layering was hardly a thing. I haven’t gotten it down to a science just yet, but my go-to pieces are thin turtlenecks and knits.
In L.A., I used to love wearing mini dresses with everything but here I’ve been embracing midi skirts and dresses that are much more practical not just for the weather but for walking around the city all day (ahem, those subway grates that threaten a Marilyn Monroe moment) and for transitioning from daytime to nighttime looks as well.
Not to be cliché or anything, but I embraced the all-black New York vibe. Head-to-monochrome is still a bit much for me, but ever since living here I’ve leaned heavily on my darker closet staples, styling things like black jeans with a black top and then adding in a different colored jacket for some dimension.