The Creative Clash Between East And West Coast Clothing


The battle for style between the East and West coast of the United States goes back as far as the nineteenth century, when a few settlers headed West and broke away from the rigid fashion constraints of the East Coast establishment and developed a fashion style hinting at the pride of rugged individualism.

East vs. West

Over time, a distinctly different culture has separated the East coast from the West coast. On the East coast, clothes are still tailored to elegantly meet with the brisk demands of working in the business world. Meanwhile, on the West coast, clothes reflect a love of sun, sand, margaritas, and, perhaps, even a more bon vivant lifestyle.

The Serious East

The East coast style, like its people, is fairly straightforward. Like the citizens of New York or Baltimore, functional clothes are the order of the day.

Clothes on the East coast should not only look good, but they should also be able to suit almost all occasions. In other words, with just a little mixing and matching, what is worn during the day works equally well for a night out on the town. Like the plain spoken people of the East coast, embellished designs are considered unnecessary. Clothes that make the man or woman are polished and well-structured, with clean lines, discernible folds, and an abundance of quality texture.

Additionally, clothes on the East coast, like its residents, are serious, sophisticated, and urbane. Often dark, with grays, blacks, and blues, this serious attire might be broken up with some chunky accessories, like an ornate necklace or a strikingly attractive watch. Blacks and grays are considered classy, tasteful, and bold.

The Playful West

The West coast style, like its people, is much more playful, a mix between a visit to the beaches of California and a visit to the snowy slopes of Colorado. The West coast has the carefree lifestyle of Hollywood and the radical elements of Berkeley and Stanford.

If the East coast look could be described as classy, tasteful and bold, then the West coast look can be summed up as playful, flirty, and somehow chic. A wonderful example of the preppy West coast style is embodied in the work of John O’ Donnell, whose “Johnnie-O” line of clothes has a hint of what a dude from the West Coast would wear if he borrowed some East Coast prep and mixed it in with some Midwestern earthiness. In other words, it’s an eclectic dash of different American lifestyles.

In the West coast, then, clothing is about reflecting personality and lifestyle, and as a consequence, the fashion industry itself often happens to be a cultural melting pot. Fashion trends reflect diversity, integration, and discovery. While women might experiment with girlishly bold, bright colors, and loose-flowing blouses, men might wear crewnecks reminiscent of the 1980s.

Clothing style in the West is an interesting mix. While the Sante Fe region has introduced a creative dash of Southwestern style, Southern California has contributed a casual love for shorts or jeans, depending on the weather.

The Best of Both Worlds

From the East coast, it’s possible to borrow the art of layering clothes to feel warm yet look cool, and from the West coast, it’s possible to borrow the art of dressing casually yet still looking elegant. The formalism of the East coast’s fabrics can be mitigated by the informality of West coast’s variegated colors. While we will never know if the rivalry between East and West will ever be peacefully resolved, we can still borrow from the best of both worlds.


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