20-Nothings blogger, East coaster and NYC-fashionista-at-heart, Jessie Rosen, packed up everything in 2010 and left her beloved Manhattan to pursue her dream of being a screenwriter in Los Angeles. We sat down to chat about her favorite NYC looks and how they compare with her favorites from L.A.. The classic East coast vs. West coast battle ain't just for rappers, y'all. Read on to find out which city reigns supreme in this girl's book.
The Dawning of the Great Battle
Meghan: Love your belted tunic. So chic.
Jessie: I was actually born in the L.A. area, but moved to New Jersey when I was little, and stayed in the New York area until I moved back to L.A. in 2010. This photograph is sort of the precursor of my adult life, because it's the colors of L.A. — very bright, contrasting colors — in the style of New York: a shift dress, belt, and tights. I feel like even as a five-year-old I was conflicted about my West vs. East coast style.
M: So meta. All you need is a top knot.
J: And an iced coffee.
"The Down Jacket Tank Top"
M: So it goes without saying that the photo on the left was taken in New York.
J: Definitely. It's pretty typical "winter in New York" wear: even though I'm wearing some red, I sort of feel like I need to hold back in the color department in New York. In the L.A. photo, this was actually a relatively cold day, but I'm wearing white jeans and I'm in the sun.
M: Still rockin' the red plaid though.
J: Yeah, and also, this is as bundled as it gets. When you're in L.A., you try to look bundled. You're desperate to look cold, because you want the seasons so badly. People here get so excited about their fall blazers, and I'm like, why? It's essentially always warm, especially compared with New York.
M: Must be nice.
J: And this vest thing I'm wearing is like a down jacket tank top. And while I think it's ridiculous, there is excitement in assimilating into that ridiculousness.
The Little Black Dress
M: Ah, every New York woman's staple: the color black.
J: Before I moved to L.A., I did a full overhaul, getting rid of my black stuff and buying colorful stuff. This photo on the right was taken my first week in L.A. and I think it's a good example of how L.A. women do the LBD.
M: Which is?
J: Even if you're going to be wearing a staple, it's important to have a pop of something. The idea, honestly, is "look at me." And you have that in both cities, but people are more dramatic about it in L.A.
M: Drahhhma! How so?
J: Well, my New York LBD was really formal: simple, tailored, and I would wear it everywhere. You want to look like you put something together on purpose. The whole goal in L.A., even if you are wearing something formal, is to look like you don't care, that you just threw something on.
M: That your LBD was NBD?
J: Ha! Precisely.
Birthday Party? Disneyland! Done.
M: So in the photo on the left you're at a birthday party, and the one on the right you're at Disneyland — what's the connect?
J: Actually in the photo on the right, I'm at both. A friend had her birthday party at Disneyland.
M: That's ridiculous. What would Minnie wear?
J: I know. L.A. is ridiculous. I mean, what do you wear to Disneyland? I had no idea. I just decided that when I'm in L.A., it's fun and bright and colorful and I want to look like that. In New York, it's more chic, even though it was still a birthday celebration.
M: So basically, when in L.A...
J: Yep. It's also worth noting: the perpetual accessory of New York is some sort of drink-in-hand. In L.A., people drink much less, largely because in L.A. we have these things called cars and you have to drive to get around.
M: So here again, we have the black vs. the color.
J: Yes. I've always worked in entertainment, so these photos come from comparable events on both coasts. I never would have worn a cute little dress like this at a work event in New York. I was always very professional and covered up; I think people in New York would have thought I looked too showy in this. But dressing in L.A., you want to be memorable. L.A. is one big casting session. I wanted to wear something poppy, plus I'd been here for a few months and people were always commenting about how formal I looked. Literally, they'd say, "You look like you're from New York."
M: It could be worse. They could be like, "You look like you're from Iowa!" Or Oklahoma. Or something.
J: Valid, but you never want to be called out for looking like you're trying too hard in L.A., and a "you look like you're from New York" comment means exactly that.
A Tale of Two Saturdays
M: First of all, you golfed?
J: I did. I did golf.
M: Had you ever golfed before?
J: Never in my life.
M: So how did you pick your outfit?
J: I thought to myself, how can I look the least like a golfer and still get away with it? I equated tennis whites and golf whites in my mind, and also it was really hot that day so I wanted to wear as light a color as possible. And also I was going to be in front of my boyfriend's mother so I had to be careful.
M: And perhaps I'm just a typical New York woman, but I love the black jumpsuit.
J: That was a Saturday in New York, which I spent on a boat, drinking. I could barely move in that jumpsuit. In L.A., fashion is more utilitarian.
Just Saying Yellow
M: This seems pretty quintessential New York vs. L.A.
J: Yeah, it is. Look at how I'm dressed in New York: there are just so many clothes. This is basically like 16 outfits in one.
M: Pretty typical.
J: And this was in April, so it wasn't even that cold. In the L.A. photo, I'm on the beach in a bikini. Everything in L.A. is minimal, including how they do bright colors. It will be, literally, women wearing neon thongs and bras that show through sheer pants and tops. And they're like, this is my pop of color!
M: Seems totally normal to me. Maybe I'm in the wrong city.
This Is How We Chill
M: Are you about to tell me that people wear different bum-around clothes in New York and L.A.?
J: I'm about to tell you that I do. Look at this attempt at a relaxing outfit in NY: still a white button-down shirt, and fitted grey pants. I'm still "dressed." In the L.A. version, I'm casual, even rumpled. I chose those clothes, but it looks like I just rushed into the closet and threw something on so I could get to the beach faster.
M: Ah, so it's very "planned unplanned" look.
J: That's the spirit of it.
The Inaugural White Shorts
M: Please explain this photograph.
J: This is in L.A., and it's hilarious because never in my New York life did I ever wear white shorts. I barely wore shorts at all.
J: Because prior to this photograph I had never had five gay men corral to take me to a legit rodeo.
M: Har! Corral!
I Am My Hair
M: Ah, the classique curly vs. straight conundrum.
J: Classic. The main difference here is humidity. There is tons of it in New York, regardless of the season, and in L.A. there is practically none, so my hair has taken on an entirely new form here.
M: But you've still got a little bit of that curl kickin'.
J: Yes. Everyone in L.A. does the loose barrel curl (think Miley Cyrus and Rachel Bilson), so once I arrived here, I bought myself one of those curling rods and let the fun begin.
"I'm LA with a New York Handicap"
M: So, who's the fashion victor? New York or L.A.?
J: I'm L.A. with a New York handicap. I always defer to black, but now I'm inclined toward the pastels and the bright colors that make L.A. feel like my new fashion home. Also, I pose like an idiot for pictures now. Just like a local.
Cover photo credit: Jenny Anderson
All other photos: Jessie Rosen