The Essential California-Girl Wardrobe
As a wise pop star once said, “California girls, they’re unforgettable”—and you better believe their signature style is part of said allure. Effortless and uncontrived with a touch of bohemian flair, gals in the Golden State build their look upon a solid foundation of basics that prove versatile and functional for the perpetual sunshine—and for outings that may lead them to the beach at the drop of a hat. But dressing as such isn’t exclusive to this place—bits and pieces of the carefree ethos can be easily infused into any wardrobe. Here, the 10 staples you should own to emulate the Cali-girl aesthetic, no matter where you call home.
The Perfect White T-Shirt
Perhaps the single most rotated item in a Cali girl's closet is a perfectly lived-in, slightly fitted white (or ivory) T-shirt. It's the crux of a casual-chic wardrobe and pairs perfectly with any number of shorts, pants, skirts, jackets and beyond. Spend time finding a silhouette and hue that flatters you, then buy two. Trust us—you will wear it until it's threadbare.
If there's one fabric that runs rampant on the LA style scene, it's denim. For summer, the perfect pair of cutoffs is an off-duty essential. Wear over your swimsuit to the beach, with cotton tanks and tees for casual errands or with a floaty blouse and strappy sandals for a day date.
An easy throw-on-and-go option, a gauzy, lightweight blouse goes with cutoffs and slim trousers alike. Artful embroidery adds free-spirited interest to the look.
Cali girls love their vintage 501s—but there are plenty of other options now on the market with more modern (read: flattering) fits. High-waisted, 100% cotton versions in a light-to-medium wash best convey the retro feel.
Floaty Maxi Dress
Invest in an ethereal, floor-grazing frock that you can wear for everything from brunch to beach vacations—a lightweight cotton-and-silk blend keeps you cool for those particularly sweltering days. Add a leather jacket and sandals for an alfresco dinner when the temperature drops.
When it comes to outerwear, nothing better encompasses LA's laid-back attitude than a buttery soft leather jacket. A well-fitting moto style edges up jeans and T-shirts while serving as the finishing touch to a host of night-on-the-town ensembles. To Californians, it goes with anything and everything.
Flat sandals feasibly could be worn year-round in Southern California—as such, the style gets plenty of play. A pair sporting a neutral hue, rendered in suede or leather, ensures maximum versatility, and details like tie-up straps and embossing keep the fun factor intact.
It ain't called the Golden State for nothing—there's plenty of sunshine to go around. A straw hat (plus plenty of SPF) is a pragmatic and stylish way to protect oneself. A boater style in particular is girlish without being too precious.
A sleek carryall serves a myriad of purposes—take it to the beach, the farmers' market, shopping with the girls or anywhere you need to schlep your belongings in style. A leather version is totally timeless.
A pillar of off-duty style, sneakers will forever resonate in California culture. Classic canvas lace-ups add athletic appeal and unstudied cool to casual looks.