The Differences Between Los Angeles and New York Style, Explained By Stylists

The Differences Between Los Angeles and New York Style, Explained By Stylists

Slip dresses might be the one thing NYC and LA girls have in common. 

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Do NYC girls really adhere to an unofficial uniform of all black everything? Is it appropriate to wear athleisure just about everywhere in LA? Is there really that big a difference in what stylish women wear on either coast? For a little battle of LA versus NYC style, we polled in-the-know stylists to see exactly what they would pick out to wear for everyday occasions like brunch, errands-running, working out, and a day at the office.

In the Los Angeles corner, we consulted with celebrity stylist Ilaria Urbinati, who Nina Dobrev credits with transforming her style. She also works with actors like Rami Malek, James Marsden, and Tom Hiddleston. Joining Ilaria is celebrity stylist Anita Patrickson, who was raised in South Africa, educated in London, and now calls Los Angeles home. Anita's client list includes Michelle Rodriguez, Olivia Culpo, and Julianne Hough.

Representing NYC is editorial stylist Deborah Afshani, who also works with the likes of Janelle Monae and Karlie Kloss. Also weighing in is Marina Dobreva, who got her start as a stylist at J.Crew and now works as a freelance stylist, personal shopper, and jewelry designer.

Read on to see if your personal style is more Cali girl or New Yorker all the way...either way, so much outfit inspiration awaits!

1. What's Acceptable Errands-Running Attire in Your City?


Anita: "LA is VERY low key! Running errands attire can be as simple as jeans, necktie and a vintage tee with booties."

Ilaria: "Athleisure is really having a moment right now. If you got to Erewhon or any other sceney lunch spot, everyone is in some form of that. I personally love Nike’s high waisted Dri-Fit black leggings with low top white sneakers from a brand like Axel Arigato or Common Projects or black sneakers from Nike or New Balance. And a cropped hoodie over that. The more black the better. Also for LA, high rise blue vintage style jeans like Re/Done with a little ballet flat or sneaker and a tshirt, leather jacket, chain purse from Chanel, Celine, or Gucci. And a little black choker. I’m also seeing A LOT of body suits and jeans."


Deborah: "Comfortable, practical, and polished! Navy and white striped nautical tops are a favorite, I love a simple clean white T-shirt as well. Paired with my favorite pair of jeans, my Balenciaga black biker jacket and the sneakers that suit my mood that day... when I am running around the city a lot, I try to use a cross body bag so my hands are free. I have an old Dries van Noten black leather messenger bag that is perfect!"

Marina: "It's NYC. I have run errands in just about anything - from my Barry's Bootcamp workout clothing to grabbing groceries in an Alaïa dress at midnight, post a formal dinner. Nobody cares, there is no code for this city! That's why I love it."

2 . What Does Black-Tie Mean in Your City?


Anita: "Having lived in Europe for such a long time I couldn’t understand LA women turning up to 'Black Tie' events in short dresses. Black tie has a much looser interpretation in LA. It means, glam up, but by no means do you need to wear a gown. Cocktail dress or wide leg pants, blouse and some fabulous jewelry is just fine. I however, always stick to the 'gown' memo. Dressing up for an event that someone has gone to a lot of trouble for is a mark of respect."

Ilaria: "LA has such a stylist culture right now, so girls are getting more fashion forward with their black tie than they used to. Quirkier brands like Gucci and Burberry are "de rigueur.” Also sheer a la Dior is very in at the moment - especially with lingerie showing underneath."


Deborah: "Regal, timeless, understated chic! A dress in a silhouette and length to suit your personal style and body type. I tend to favor black and cream over colors... and not to over accessorize. A beautiful earring, bracelet and ring for example, everything feeling understated or maybe one piece standing out rather than loading up on and overdoing jewels. Also, the small details make a big difference...still keeping with simple and chic but your choice of clutch and shoe is key. The shoe and clutch can make or break the entire look!"

Marina: NYC black tie to me means simply fabulous! Also, never conventional, please don't buy whatever the "hottest dress of the season" is. I have friends who show up to a Whitney Museum Gala in a Chanel tracksuit a la Royal Tenenbaums and get little judgment. For me: I like to wear a more casual dress, often oriental vibing, but elevating it with an extremely dressy heel and over-the-top jewelry and handbag.

3. What Would You Wear to a Boutique Fitness Studio in Your City?


Anita: "Work out wear is a staple in LA, its all become so chic and gorgeous that people are wearing it instead of regular clothing! Cute leggings, a bralette and a great leather jacket to throw over if you need to run some errands before hand in your fitness gear!"

Ilaria: "High-waisted black Nike pants, a cute sports bra with an old school logo tee from a brand like Adidas and a cute baseball cap. Personally, I box every day so I like to wear my Nike wrestling shoes, black Nike leggings, and long sleeved thermals to wipe the sweat."


Deborah: "Clean, sleek, and monochromatic. I would opt for all black and charcoal gray Lululemon leggings work best for me paired with Nike Dri-Fit sports bras/tanks and long sleeve fitted tops (I love the ones that come with the thumb holes). A pop of color can be fun for the shoe."

Marina: "I don't go to workouts to impress with my clothing. That's for the rest of my life. Usually you can find me in Athleta or Lululemon yoga leggings and a torn up tee-shirt. Most likely stolen from a boy, and also likely some grungy band tee that I would never seek out to buy on my own."

4. What’s a Great Outfit to Impress at an Important Work Meeting?


Anita: "At a work meeting, especially one you are trying to make a good impression at, I'd err on the side of conservative (of course this also depends on what industry you are in!). Kitten heels, a J.W.Anderson skirt and a simple blouse with great earrings is a great way to stay chic and elevated, or add a simple slip over a cotton blouse for a more fashion-forward look."

Ilaria: "Suits are very cute for girls and I’m seeing them more and more — especially seen with just a T-shirt so it feels like you're not trying too hard and a little bootie. I also love a little dress from a brand like Reformation with a black blazer, black tights, and a little suede ankle bootie from Vince."


Deborah: "Always timeless over trendy — you want to exude unassuming sophistication and confidence! Classic neutral colors, like navy, black, beige, white. Pencil skirt or wide leg pants (I have been obsessed with my Isabel Marant ones!) paired with a white mens style button down shirt (Equipment, Thomas Mason for J Crew and Nili Lotan have the best!) or cashmere sweater. A beautiful simple pair of strappy heels will add a touch of femininity and a structured handbag that does not feel too small and dainty nor too big and briefcase-like will tie everything together."

Marina: As I have heavily transitioned my career from styling to jewelry design, my impress at a meeting outfit is a blend of my two worlds. As I stylist, I never liked things that are too staged, so even now, I will wear an outfit where one thing doesn't match. Like the bag color is not "planned". Or the shoe is too dressy for the look. And of course, I will throw a super editorial piece of Mimilore jewelry (my collection) to give the look extra punch.

5. What Would Clients in Your City Wear to a Brunch With Girlfriends This Summer?


Anita: "A summer brunch is LA is a Sunday staple! Strappy sandals, a vintage midi dress, a great pair of shades, and a cross body bag!"

Ilaria: "A cute brunch outfit is a little 90’s style slip dress or floral print dress with a little low top white sneaker, cool sunglasses from a brand like Garrett Leight, and a chain bag."


Deborah: "Summer is the perfect time to play with pieces that feel pretty and feminine. I personally love the ease of slip dresses. Vince and Nili Lotan make perfect ones in beautiful shades that hit at just the right length, but you could wear any summer dress that makes you feel pretty, light and airy. Paired with a cardigan or denim jacket, flat sandals or slides (check out the Newbark collection! We also have an amazing collaboration with Theory right now!), your favorite sunglasses and an easy oversized tote so you could even stop at the farmers market before or after, and you are set!"

Marina: "Some of my girls would show up in a Self-Portrait dress, a sky-high wedge likely a Choo or Giuseppe Zanotti. Others will rock a flowy Zimmerman or Zara dress with some odd colored Chanel Boy bag. I am aiming to brunch in the Hamptons (or in the city) in a print on print outfit that makes you feel like I have the whole jungle on me. Because I am loving green and couch flowers right now, and because I don't do what everyone else does."

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