Wearing a Trench Coat, “California Style”


What does it mean when someone says, “California Style?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, since Kelsi Smith alerted me (not personally, but generally) to the description of “Los Angeles Style” from Lucky Mag.  That, and being asked, “What is San Francisco style?” a few times in the last few weeks has got me wondering if I need to cultivate a canned response. Either way, it seems like defining a geographic area’s fashion sense is a topic for banter much like the weather or a local sports team.

Being born and raised in California and living here most of my life, might give me some sort of “credentials” for my California-ness… do I have “California Style?” Possibly, but not in the stereotypical sense, not overly casual, and not boho. After all, California is a vast and diverse place. Like many people, I’m not dressing to fit into any sort of stereotype (albeit unconsciously I probably do). I try to wear clothes that make me feel good, as well as appropriate for my lifestyle: clothes that are not too difficult to maintain, but polished enough to look put together.

So… here is my trench coat. Worn with faux leather leggings and sandals. The coat is to shield me from the crazy wind (as the leggings) but they’re all easy enough just to throw on, without fussing too much. It’s a little preppy only rumpled and way, way, way more casual than you might see on an East Coaster, but then, I’m 99.999% sure people are wearing trench coats with blue shirts and black pants there too.

If you want to get my “California Style”  look…


  • Sandals: Franco Sarto Venezia • $58.99 
  • Bag: Sophie Hulme Mini Envelope Crossbody Bag, Black •  $445.00 
  • Trench: Gryphon [Similar: A.P.C. Double-Breasted Trench Coat • $635.00 ]
  • Leggings: Aritzia [Similar: Blank NYC Black Vegan Leather Legging in Pussy Cat • $98.00 ]
  • Button down: H&M [This one is similar: Elizabeth and James Carrine Shirt • $265.00 ]
  • Sunglasses: Super “Lucia” Sunglasses • $269

What does “California Style” mean to you?

jennineWearing a Trench Coat, “California Style”

Comments 9

  1. Lisa

    Well, as a just about lifelong Northern Californian, I cringe at “LA Style:)” We do have a genre here. Hmm. I can only define it by what it’s not, here, with a recent act. When I bought a light blue bag I thought, “Is this a little too “Miami/Dallas” for SF?”

    Anything better from me will require a lot more thought.

    1. Post

      Oh, a light blue bag is definitely NOT too Miami for SF. Unless you wear it with linen pants and big gold jewelry. HA. I guess we don’t mind stereotyping when we’re not the subject of it. There is definitely a “look” here, but like with all fashion, it changes so rapidly that it’s too hard to identify.

      1. Francesca

        It may be easy to fall into stereotyping when trying to define a style, at least as we cognitively. When referring to ‘Miami Beach style’ don’t we all imagine bling bling, mini everything, tighter tops, smaller bikinis, vertiginous heels, long mane, more make-up? Then there’s ‘us’ who see it and steer away from it.
        Does that only make sense to me? Is that an ‘expat’ state of mind?

  2. Francesca

    Interesting perspective Jennine and such a perfect look that goes day-to-night. You are not stereotypical (don’t we all love you for that?) at all, however, if I were to go by immediate association of ideas, your look at a glance is more San Francisco than L.A. alas you are right, Californian it is. A similar example of Miami Beach and Palm Beach, Florida it is, but such an infinite hiatus.
    I am going to share your post and keep it in mind for material to work on for my book on Italian style.

    1. Post

      Thanks! I actually did wear a similar outfit at night (just wore a light denim shirt instead of the blue shirt). I’d like to say my “look” is more SF than LA, but I growing up in Southern California, my layers and mentality style-wise has always been the same, rather modest in comparison to the stereotypes.

      Congratulations on your book about Italian Style!

  3. grechen

    man…i struggle with this because i always thought i had more of an “east coast” vibe, i.e. NYC (black, edgy), but then how do i explain all the james perse in my closet? i feel like james perse pretty much embodies california style: laid-back, easy, chic, simple - maybe more SoCal than SF though…even though i’m not sure what that is.

    one thing i am SURE of: i absolutely do NOT relate to dallas-style LOL. and i hope someone shoots me if i ever do ;)

    1. Post

      But aren’t you FROM the East Coast? I’ve always felt like I had transplant style too, but after living on the East Coast for three years, I believe that my style is very much California, even if it’s not surfy, or fake blonde or whatever. It’s hard to explain.

      Dallas Style? What is that like?

      1. grechen

        sort of from the east coast - i spent most of my life in atlanta, but a lot also in florida. i’ve only been in texas for about 5 years.

        dallas style is all about the bling. and the blonde. LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of long blonde hair around, bedazzled jeans, cowboy boots, etc., sort of the opposite of me ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *