Friday, March 22

L.A. winters allow for fashion, trend variation

Something has come to California that is decidedly rare: rain. Now is the beginning of winter, after a month and a half of sunshine, and it is the time to take advantage of the colder weather and bring out that winter wardrobe, even if the rain will only last, at the most, a week.

Walk through UCLA on a typical winter day and there will be students wearing everything from flip­-flops to Uggs, shorts to long coats, pajama pants to cinched dresses. This variety in fashion is usually attributed to the Southern California weather, which can range from hot and sunny to rainy, sometimes all within the same week.

According to Aimee Sorek, the president of Fashion and Student Trends at UCLA, winter fashion in California is a stark contrast to places such as the East Coast, where four seasons are the norm.

“If you go to the East Coast in the wintertime, it’s all about coats, scarves, hats. You’re covering your whole body. Whereas Southern California, winter clothing is pretty much all year-round kind of clothing, except maybe jeans instead of shorts,” Sorek said, “There are no big jackets, no coats, it’s completely different.”

As a result of the consistently sunny weather, save for the occasional rainy or cloudy day, even boutique owners in California are ordering a variety of clothing to match the tumultuous weather.

“These days, there are a lot of varieties, even though there are certain fashions and trends. … When I go to clothing shows, it used to be certain designs … people only ordered some styles. But this year, they have a lot of variety,” said Grace Kim, owner of Crisalide, a women’s clothing boutique in Westwood.

Yet in terms of what is fashionable, Kim finds that more formfitting clothing is now the norm.

“(Also) it used to be short-length jackets but now they’ve become a little bit longer,” said Kim.

“(Other popular fashion trends are) tight, but ripped jeans … big scarves … leather jackets … boots over your jeans,” said Sorek.

Yet when considering winter fashion, especially at UCLA under the California sun, Sorek said she finds that the predominant trend is casual. She finds this understandable given the hectic college schedule.

“People are staying up all night, they’re partying or they’re studying for their midterms and finals. If they’re just too tired in the morning, that’s definitely understandable,” Sorek said.

Of course, it never hurts to go against the grain and dress up. Monika Eckold, a third-year psychology student, tries to look her best, even when going to class.

“I think sometimes it’s nice to dress up. But when you do dress up, even if it’s just normal flats and a dress, (people) think that it’s a little overdone because we’re so used to the norm of shorts and sandals,” Eckold said.

While being fashionable is important, comfort should also be taken into account.

“I care about looks but I also care about comfort. That’s how I choose my winter coats, find the one that’s really comfortable and offers winter protection,” said Kurniadi Patriawan, a fourth-year engineering student.

Despite the allowance for a more casual and varied look, there are still certain clothing choices that are inappropriate for the season, from a fashion-lover’s perspective. One such item is that ubiquitous California stereotype: flip-flops.

“My pet-peeve is flip-flops with a really cute outfit. If you’re going to put effort into your clothes then put effort into your shoes too,” said Sorek.

And there’s also the impractical aspect of flip-flops during a slightly chillier winter day.

“Aren’t your feet cold?” Sorek said.

Another inappropriate piece for the winter is the tank top, also a common California staple. “(Tank tops are) definitely something I find inappropriate,” Patriawan said. “I do see people wearing them around in the winter, I don’t know how.”

Patriawan is originally from Indonesia where the winters are warmer. As such, he admits that a natural resistance to the cold is a huge factor when dressing for winter. Some students will wear more layers than others, depending on if they find the weather daunting or not.

“How thick you want (your clothes) to be depends on how strong you are against cold,” Patriawan said.

Despite the fact that California winter fashion may seem casual and varied at times, students in California are allowed to do something during the winter that no one else can do: experiment.

“(The weather) allows people to play with fashion and trends. … We can play with fall fashion through to spring, whereas other places have to cover up for winter,” Sorek said. “It definitely allows for a lot of fashion growth.”

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