From the land of sun to the land of frost: West Coast fashion vs. East Coast fashion

By Jessica Lizza

Most people living in Arizona and going to Arizona State University have a skewed definition of what summer is really about. From personal experience most days I wake up, look out my window and see the Arizona sun staring right back at me. On the same side of that token, the occasional thunderstorm we get, gets a lot of attention and sometimes will make the state news. All in all the weather never really interferes with what we want to wear that day, unless you feel like wearing a parka and some sweatpants. Now, picture the complete opposite side of that spectrum, on the East Coast, the daily summer weather consists of rain- and the rare glimpse of sun pulls attention and makes the news. I am exaggerating of course…sadly, things like that never make the news as there’s far too much madness going on. Thankfully however, this drastic difference in climate inspired me to look into the clash of clothing worlds from the East Coast to the West Coast.

To give an expert opinion on this matter I enlisted the help of a young lady named Taylor Crow. She is a graduate from the University of Arizona, but before completing her bachelor’s in her home state of Arizona, she took a trip into the world of rain and snow on the East Coast for her first semester of college. New York City was her destination, and perhaps my New Yorker pride makes me biased but she could not have picked a better place to learn about life. As they say, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

                  We may be part of the same country, but when it comes to clothing choices, we seem to be worlds apart. I always felt that the contrast here was an interesting topic, and using Taylor as a contact for endless questions I finally have the opportunity. New York City is a place full of wonderful things, the top of that list probably being bagels and fresh cheeses, and possibly a close second being fashion. It is the home of Saks, Barneys, and the beautiful Tiffany & Co (a personal addiction), no doubt because it is the greatest city in the world. Southern Arizona is not without its great qualities as well however; it is a beacon to old and young alike for its warm and mild weather, fair and sunny days and gorgeous desert landscape. Honestly, after living in both extremes, personally I prefer Arizona. To focus more on the topic at hand however, I wanted to know how Taylor’s individual sense of style changed after being exposed to such a different world of culture, to see how easily or difficult it was to adapt to the drastic change of climate, and her overall culture shock. Arizona is a low-key place, and New York City is full of both night and day madness.

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In response to my inquiry, Taylor insisted on speaking directly about her experience as a whole rather than responding to individual questions. In her own words, Taylor Crow shares her story below:

Moving from a small town in Arizona to mid-town Manhattan was a culture shock to end all culture shocks. Suddenly I was transposed into a world of pea coats and pencil skirts when I had previously lived amidst ripped jeans and Hollister tank tops

Attending a conservative college with a business casual dress code probably contributed to the massive rift, but it also taught me some important lessons in fashion. Certain wardrobe staples were now necessary – aforementioned pea coat, for example. It’s cold in New York City for the better part of the school year and wind chill gets you down to your bones. I had noticed that bright, clean and simple colors paired with economical pieces of clothing were very much in. To get by amongst my peers, selections of nice blouses matched with a simple black or grey pencil skirt were easy enough. Flats were always my go-to shoes, however drastically high and dangerous high heels tempted me.

In contrast with these new and interesting changes in what people were wearing and what I was wearing, came the new and interesting changes of the actual people. For the first time in my life I was surrounded by the well-to-do, the philanthropists, and the so-called “rich and famous.” Models walked the streets like all of Manhattan was a runway, I found myself coming face to face with the likes of Chris Brown and Bruno Mars while they were in the city shooting “Saturday Night Live”. A lazy day out turned into an impromptu photo shoot of Lea Michele when my friends and I stumbled upon “Glee” filming scenes in Central Park.

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Photo Courtesy of Taylor Crow

New York was alive and vibrant around me and I wanted to be a part of it. When not donning business casual attire for class, I favored leather jackets and sheer tops to go with my favorite jeans. I got my first taste for combat boots and a deep-seated love for fringe at a slam poetry reading. I snuck onto the red carpet premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” in denim and polyester with my Gryffindor scarf hastily tucked into my soft brown leather bag that I was never without. I felt like I had made it.eastvswest2Photo Courtesy of Taylor Crow

Alas, the city that never sleeps wore me out. By the end of the year I was heinously exhausted, cold, and the thrill of so much freedom was drowned out by the catcalls and whistles of passing strangers. I was ready to go home, but I was lucky enough to get to take part of the city back with me.

I think Taylor Crow’s story is a perfect example of how different the East Coast is from the West Coast.  It was clear that she was used to a laid back and low demanding lifestyle and fashion style.  After being dropped into the hustle and bustle of New York City, it was an absolute necessity to change her style, not only to fit in but also maintain her professionalism.  The culture of fashion and the people that surrounded her made her strive to better herself, and I think this experience has shaped her in a fashion sense and in a worldly sense.

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