I’m Worried My Midwestern Style Will Embarrass Me In LA

NOT a picture of me... but pretty much how I expect I'll look to other people.

NOT a picture of me… but pretty much how I expect I’ll look to other people.

After wasting another Friday night of my youth eating nachos, scrolling Tumblr, and watching old episodes of The Hills that some kind philanthropist had illegally uploaded to YouTube, I realized that it was time to take action. With my heart thudding in my ears, I wrapped my leopard print Snuggie tightly around my dry December skin, took a deep breath… and purchased a one-way plane ticket. I’m finally moving from Ohio to Los Angeles.

A week from today, I’ll be hopping off a plane at LAX with a dream, a cardigan, and a heavily sedated cat. Despite my nerves, I’m definitely ready to leave the Midwest behind and start fresh on the West Coast– but, uhh, I’m not sure if my closet is. I’m a generally confident person, but I’m admittedly pretty scared of embarrassing myself with my down-home wardrobe.

I… own a lot of American Eagle. A lot of 12-dollar shoes from the Charlotte Russe bargain shelf, a lot of screenprinted sweatshirts from church outings, a lot of Wal-Mart headbands. I’ve worn sweatpants to an Olive Garden more times than I care to admit. My knowledge of LA style is mostly Katy Perry video-based, sure, but I have a feeling that Vera Bradley tote bags aren’t exactly haute couture outside of Cleveland.

I’m not ashamed of who I am or where I grew up, by any means, but I’m a little worried that my Ohioan fashion sense is going to make me look like a tourist in my own neighborhood. What if I stick out so obviously that people take advantage of my country-girl naivety? What if I implode from shock when I realize that not every American citizen owns seven pairs of Crocs in various colors, including camo? Mandie posted a few days ago about her “Midwest Pleasant Face” and how it’s haunted her in New York. “I look friendly. I am friendly, and I generally assume people around me to be the same,” she says. I seriously relate. Not only is my resting face friendly, but so are my DSW boots. So is my hand-me-down Coach wristlet full of Dillard’s coupons. So is my dorky makeup meant to withstand the harsh winter winds. I am very, very Ohio.

The next few months will definitely be an adventure– both for me and for my dresser drawers. I hope I’ll be able to find a balance between being my same old self and trying on my LA Citizen costume. And if my attempts to change up my wardrobe totally fail? The Vera Bradley heartland is always just a plane ride away.

Photo: Shutterstock

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    • http://seafortsseaforts.blogspot.com/ Inness

      You’ll be fine! Follow a few fashion blogs, hop onto Pinterest, and get thee to a TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack or something. Maybe a LA consignment store. It’s going to be a fun adventure. :)

    • Samantha Escobar

      Honestly, I thought moving to NYC from the West Coast would make me look really unfashionable. To be fair, it did; I am not nearly as stylish as all the people around me, particularly when I attend events. You can either adapt mentally by thinking different or adapt outwardly by looking different. I wound up just keeping most of my wardrobe and just continuing to wear my Portland-bought sweaters and Syracuse-bought jeans. :)

    • Mars

      It’s no big deal, people are surprisingly nice out here (LA native and resident for 28 years). And no one expects much outside of Beverly Hills. But if you really want to look like a native, just wear yoga clothes at all times, you’ll fit right in. :)

    • esteers

      i’ve been living in LA for nearly 8 years… you’ll be fine. the good news is, everyone does actually wear workout clothes 24/7 and there’s basically a uniform depending on what neighborhood you live in. you’ll pick it up sooner or later. also: jeans everywhere. the office? yes. the nicest restaurant in town? expensive jeans. (and mine are from american eagle, too)

    • I Like Pizza

      Remember you don’t have to spend a lot to fit in. L.A. has, in my opinion, some of the best consignment shops I’ve ever been inside. There’s a definite stereotype about the “L.A. look,” but I mainly think that’s only true in aspiring actress circles.

      Also: I love that Miley song and I don’t care who knows it.

    • cassie

      omg, please get rid of the camouflage crocs no matter where you live.

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    • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

      Five years in LA from the Midwest here. I hate shopping, so I’ve made due with my Midwest duds while sloooooowly replacing them. You’ll be fine. I still wear cutoffs (only on my bike, only in Venice) and sneak away to Kohl’s every once in awhile to get some good deals and cheap camis. Esteers is spot-on about the jeans – as long as you have a decent pair that fits well, you’re golden. Hell, you can even keep your Vera Bradley bag and carry it ironically if you wind up in Echo Park, Silver Lake or Los Feliz.
      Honestly, the vast spectrum of very rich living alongside very poor and everyone in between, the fact that you’ll never leave your car, and the abundance of outdoor scenarios all year round mean you can get away with quite a lot without anyone giving you the stink eye.

      LAs a pretty cool city and has a “you do you” attitude most the time. I hope you like it. Good luck with your move!

    • Cee

      Pshaw. Everything goes in LA! There are fashionable people, but for the most part, everyone’s pretty relaxed about other people’s fashion. No worries! You’ll be fine! Now New York…that’s another story!

    • Crayzcheshire

      Eh, just wear yoga pants with everything! and ditch the crocs :)

    • SH

      Just wanted to say I thought this was very well written! Best of luck on your adventure :)

    • Andrew Cole

      As somebody from Kansas who moved to NYC (which is not LA I realize) five years ago, let me give you a couple pieces of advice. First, how you act will matter more than how you dress. I don’t know about LA, but ‘Midwestern niceness’ is absolutely a thing, as I realized after moving. People don’t want you to look at them, or talk to them, unless you have a reason.

      Second, let somebody else whose lived there a while help you out with your fashion. Looking good isn’t as important as blending in, but maybe I just think that because I’m a man. White sneakers should never be worn unless you are actually exercising, for example. At this point, I can spot people from out of town instantly by the way they are dressed. I couldn’t tell you what it is exactly, but there is just something about the way we dress in the Midwest that stands out.

      We just had a couple friends move the CA. I think a lot of people are moving right now. Good luck to you and your cat.

    • Lindsey Conklin

      you’ll be great, hayley!!! LA is pretty laid back in my opinion! (I can totally relate to this post haha)