7 ways my wardrobe changed after moving from NYC to LA

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Lauren Caruso is an In The Know shopping contributor. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for more.

I was apartment hunting in Los Angeles with a friend last month when someone stopped us to ask about her dog. Before I even said a word, the stranger asked if I was from New York. Apparently my all-black outfit and snakeskin boots were a dead giveaway. After more than a decade of NYC living — and 30-plus years on the East Coast — I was finally giving in and moving to Los Angeles, but my wardrobe had yet to catch up. 

From the start of the pandemic, my 375-square-foot apartment in the heart of the Lower East Side felt too cramped to be stuck in 24/7. Before long, I packed up my furniture, my beauty products and my entire closet to settle into a two-bedroom apartment in Mid-City that’s about five times as big — with a private patio to boot. Of course, a lot changed — I don’t wake up to the sweet sounds of LES traffic, and I’m driving myself everywhere instead of running all my errands on foot. But more than anything, I’ve noticed how much my wardrobe has shifted since moving to Los Angeles.

My stuff spent almost six months in storage during the move. Though I couldn’t wait to be reunited with all my clothes in California, it all suddenly felt useless. 

In NYC, I lived in staples like leather pants, oversized blazers and sleek boots. In the colder months, I layered up before I dared to head outside — and the heat and humidity of summer meant leaving the confines of my AC-filled apartment almost never seemed worth it. When I did, it was likely in an all-black outfit for a more elevated vibe. But now that I’ve spent the better part of 2021 in Los Angeles, I’ve noticed I reach for breezy, throw-and-go dresses. Mini skirts have taken the place of the maxi styles I used to love. And I can finally get some use out of the mini bags I’d invested in over the last few seasons. I’ve also found myself replacing my all-black uniform of leggings and a sweatshirt with airier, lighter athleisure pieces. 

Check out seven ways my wardrobe changed when moving to Los Angeles, as well as the pieces I can’t stop wearing now that I live here.

Used To Wear: Maxi Skirts

Now Wear: Mini Skirts

There’s an undeniable truth about New York City that every woman knows: Mini skirts and the subway don’t mix. Whether from the whirl of a passing train or a street-level grate puffing a sudden gust of wind, I always worried about the moment I’d accidentally flash an entire block. In Los Angeles, though, there’s no such worry — which means I’ve reinstated the mini skirt as a spring wardrobe staple.

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Used To Wear:  Straight-Leg Denim

Now Wear: Baggy Denim

There’s something inherently more casual about LA style, which means I find myself reaching for baggy, boyfriend-style denim more than I ever had. I wear this style from AGOLDE at least three times a week. 

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Used To Wear: Boots

Now Wear: Chunky Slides

NYC isn’t just a walking city — it’s practically the only way you get around when you’re on a budget. But without the constant threat of rain, sleet or some other unexpected weather pattern, I’ve found myself relegating all my boots to the back of my closet in favor of this season’s hero sandal: the chunky slide. They’re perfect for an afternoon at the beach. 

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Used To Wear: T-Shirts

Now Wear: Ribbed Tanks

Don’t get me wrong: I still love a good tee. But unless I’m throwing on an oversized graphic iteration on a cool night, I find myself reaching for something from my ever-expanding collection of ribbed tanks instead. 

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Used To Wear: Huge Bag

Now Wear: Small Bag

Living in NYC, I usually had a change of clothes, something I bought or need to return, my laptop and charger, an extra tote and who-knows-what-else on me just in case I needed it. Now that I use my car to get most places, I find that I’m schlepping significantly less. That means I can finally make use of my mini bags without doubling — or tripling — up on extra totes.

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Used To Wear: Leather Dresses

Now Wear: Breezy Dresses

I didn’t even realize how many leather dresses I had until my boyfriend counted them for me. But the sleek fabric feels out of place in a city as laid-back as LA, so I’ve replaced them with breezy, throw-and-go dresses that I can wear any time.

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Used To Wear: All-Black Athleisure

Now Wear: Airy Athleisure

My NYC weekend uniform always consisted of black leggings, a black tank and a black sweatshirt. But, because head-to-toe black feels too stark for the West Coast, I’ve shifted my workout wardrobe to include airier, lighter basics — like this cream-colored bike short from Le Ore

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If you enjoyed this article, check out Lauren Caruso’s list of 23 emerging fashion brands to keep your eye on in 2021!

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