Trends on Trial: East Coast vs. West Coast Hipsters

molly hurford finds herself embroiled in the longtime bi-coastal hipster battle royal … with cheese …

This past week, I switched coastal loyalty and checked out the scene in Los Angeles. While I won’t bother reporting in on the fashions seen at the Labyrinth Masquerade Ball, as I don’t think most readers consider “elf-ish” to be a signature style they’re hoping to adapt, I did hit up a few Fourth of July parties and saw some serious differences between the hipster couture of the East Coast versus that of the West Coast. Maybe it was just the area we were in, but even though the music and the talks about obscure literature and vinyl were still the same, the styles were worlds apart. Body paint was in.

Who would have thought that this was actually the style?

Katy Perry wasn’t lying when she said that California girls wear “daisy dukes, bikinis on top.” Thing is, I wasn’t really expecting to see said daisy dukes or bikini tops at a super-hipster party in Los Angeles on the Fourth of July. In a backyard. Without a pool. But, sitting there in my scoop neck Bend Cyclocross T-shirt with jean shorts and a cycling cap, I suddenly felt like the most under-dressed girl at the party. And by under-dressed, I don’t mean the surface area that my clothing covered — there, I was probably ranked pretty darn high. By under-dressed, I’m more referring to the effort that clearly went into the outfit planning these hipsters did that morning was nothing short of remarkable.

Maybe I’ve been out of the fashion loop too long, or maybe it’s because on the East Coast, hipsters seem to believe that to try (or to appear to be trying) is to be un-hip, but out in L.A., these girls and guys do “hip” like it’s their job. Or, at the very least, their calling.

Some key differences from East to West:

East Coast: slick, simple hipsters who tend to rock one big accessory, and generally have a tougher, sleeker overall style.
West Coast: boho chic is still super hip there, and bikinis with flowy long skirts were en vogue, as were flowery accessories.

East Coast: despite the heat, hipsters rock layers like it’s nobody’s business, and short shorts are eschewed in favor of knee length cutoffs
West Coast: the more skin, the better — or at least, that’s how it seemed at the two uber-hip parties we checked out.

NYC hipsters in summer: covered up and “not caring.”

East Coast: black is perpetually in, regardless of season.
West Coast: color is key, and even the dudes sported sweet corduroys in reds and greens.

East Coast: a scorn for holidays like the Fourth of July, except in the most ironic way possible.
West Coast: celebrating the US of A on the Fourth, proudly rockin’ sky high American flag platforms, t-shirts and other patriotic apparel.

East Coast: tattoos.
West Coast: body paint.

A couple of similarities: the guys rocked ironic tees and corduroys despite the heat, some girls opted for high-waisted shorts, big sunglasses and aviators were everywhere, and dogs and cats were carefully added as accessories.
In NYC, the hipster tends to relish not looking like everyone else -– or wearing the same thing as the hipster next to them, even if the overall aesthetic is the same. However, out in L.A., within the one small backyard party, three of the ten girls all sported matching sky-high American Flag platform heels. The heels, I later found out, were Jeffrey Campbell, and at $130 a pair, they certainly aren’t a cheap option for footwear. Considering how packed LA is with vintage stores, I was surprised to see so many hipsters wearing brand-spanking new duds.

OK, so maybe this NYC gal is more comfortable on the East Coast than the West Coast. But that being said, there was something freeing about the way that the women on the West Coast embraced their femininity, proud to flaunt their “assets.” And in 100-degree heat, who could blame them? I just won’t be rocking five-inch platforms any time soon — ouch!

3 COMMENTS

  1. you must not have gone to san francisco. you think nyc and la are worlds apart, la and sf couldn’t be further apart in terms of, well, just about everything. California has been my home my entire life and when i think of a city to represent it, it’s sf. it couldn’t be more opposite from la. to me, la is the worst part of California. you should check it out for yourself!

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