When we moved to San Francisco a few years ago one of the first things that struck me, besides the lack of rain and the sky-high cost of rent, was the style. Laid back, yoga pants-centric with thin, puffy, Patagonia jackets and gilets, the Northern California look was casual with a capital C.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. But…
To me personal style is about self-expression. Coming from a vibrant, student-filled city in Bristol, I distinctly remember delighting in people-watching the first couple of times I went back; goths with multi-coloured hair cycling along past students in gold lamé leggings and Dr Martens. London is known as the kookiest fashion capital of the four usual suspects, and the fact that we welcome style risk-takers is something I love about the UK.
Here in the Bay Area I originally mistook all the neutrals, denim and athleisure for a lack of personality, and now I feel I owe an apology to California Casual – a style in its own right.
I’ve had a funny old year and while I’m still a magpie when it comes to bold colours and clashing patterns, I have found myself increasingly open to the idea of blending in. It started with a couple of grey t-shirts, then a hankering for a denim jacket. I’m still not that big on jeans but a denim jacket – in a climate that is prone to fog at the drop of a hat – seemed like a sensible purchase.
I eventually found my denim soulmate in Zara a couple of months ago, and during the same trip I also found these delightful navy and polka dot trousers. So swishy and light – from some angles it looks like I’m wearing a pleated midi skirt, and I’m ok with that.
To me this outfit has all the markers of California Casual – it’s inoffensive, practical and easy. I don’t have to think twice about whether the components all go together, or if I’ll get funny looks on public transport. No one is going to notice me as I go about my business, and if I were to experience some sort of epic lunch fail and spill half my food down myself, everything can be replaced easily with near-identical pieces.
I’ll never relinquish my bubblegum pink trousers or gold lobster shoes, but I’m finally ready to embrace the style of my surroundings.