Oh, California girls — the topic of at least one famous song by the Beach Boys and surely a desired demographic. Their style is coveted because they look relaxed, happy and sun-kissed. Even if you’re not living anywhere near a beach, you can still look like a California girl once you revamp your wardrobe.
Keep your aesthetic laid-back. In general, West Coast style favors a relaxed and natural look over looking obsessively pulled-together. If your hair has a few fly aways or your nail polish doesn’t match your outfit, don’t sweat it – part of dressing like a California girl is keeping a calm and casual attitude about these things.Ad
Style your hair in a beachy way. Making your hair look like you just came from an afternoon at the beach will instantly lend a California flavor to your look. Here are a few ways to do it.
- If you don’t have naturally wavy or curly hair, French braid damp hair in two-inch wide sections before you go to bed. When you wake up, take the braids out and gently tousle your hair with your fingers (do not brush). Wear it loose, pulled up in a messy bun, or tied back in a loose ponytail. Finish with a texturizing spray or light hairspray.
- If you have naturally wavy or curly hair, wash it and let it air dry before you go to sleep. When you wake up, finger comb it a little bit and put in some leave-in conditioner or curl-defining cream. Wear it loose, pulled up in a messy bun or tied back in a loose ponytail. Finish with light hairspray.
Add some home-made highlights to your hair. Some people’s hair will turn a bit lighter if they spend more time out in the sun. To look like you’ve been sunbathing (even if you haven’t), use these tricks.
- For blonde, light brown or red hair, mix a bit of lemon juice with some water in a spray bottle. Pull a few sections of hair from the top of your head and flip them over your face. Dampen them with a few drops of water, then hold them a few inches away from your face and spray with the lemon mixture (but not so that it also hits your face). Dry then with a blowdryer on the hottest temperature setting. Keep doing this once or twice a week, and you’ll notice those strands becoming lighter.
- For dark brown or black hair, mix a little bit of cranberry juice with some water in a spray bottle. Pull a few sections of hair from the top of your head and flip them over your face. Dampen them with water, then hold them a few inches away from your face and spray with the cranberry mixture (but not so that it also hits your face). Dry then with a blowdryer on the hottest temperature setting. Keep doing this once or twice a week, and you’ll notice those strands taking on a dark red tinge.
Dress diverse. California has almost 40 million inhabitants, and – contrary to what might be portrayed or imagined – there are all manner of different styles that Californians opt for. Memo to Katy Perry: not every California girl wears daisy dukes and bikinis. Although it’s hard to generalize, here are some differences in San Francisco and L.A. style:
- San Francisco is chock-full with eco-chic boutiques and vintage spots. This means people put a premium on re-usability and eco-conscious fashion while maintaining a certain originality. According to TheSFStyle.com, there’s also a “utility” to clothes San Franciscans wear because the weather is unpredictable. So think layers, combination new/old, and eco-conscious, with a little bit of flair for originality.
- Angelenos have the benefit (some say misfortune) of living in an almost perpetually warm climate. Again, instead of a dominant “style,” certain themes come up. Oversized clothes are big, as is “feminine with a tomboy’s touch,” according to Melissa Coker. The surf culture definitely influences fashion, although for men more than for women. Angelenos often opt for a casualness, but a casualness that is very planned (and often expensive). Crazy colors – neons, turquoises, fuchsias – dominate.
Dress for recreation. A lot of the stereotypical California look you see on TV is based around people dressing for sports such as surfing, skating and hiking. These clothes are meant to be stylish without getting in the way of the movement, so they’re not too baggy nor restrictively tight. Imitate this silhouette when you buy jeans, sweaters or shirts.
- Wear layers. Foggy mornings can be chilly in California, then turn into a warm afternoon. Scarves, hoodies, cardigans, jackets, tights and boots are all great layering pieces to have on-hand.
Dress for “winter”. Californians think it’s “cold” outside when the temperature is lower than 60 degrees F. The usual look for this weather is knee-high leather boots, skinny dark jeans, a bulky jacket or sweater, and a scarf.
Protect yourself from the sun. Dressing like a California girl doesn’t have to mean exposing yourself to sun damage. Wear sunglasses (they’ll keep you from squinting in bright light, which in turn will slow the development of crows’ feet around your eyes) and sunscreen religiously. Take it a step further by wearing a hat when you’re out in direct sunlight. In 20 years, you’ll look a lot more youthful than your peers who don’t do this.
Wear natural-looking makeup. When you’re doing your makeup, don’t go overboard. Healthy skin, a well-groomed brow and a little bit of blush are all you need for a natural California look. If you want to put on more makeup, opt for a light tinted moisturizer instead of using a heavy base. If you usually make up both your eyes and your lips, pick one or the other – either wear mascara and a light, tinted lip balm, or a bright matte lipstick and down-played eyes.
Be yourself. California style doesn’t follow a specific set of rules because it’s centered on sticking to your individual aesthetic. Embrace your own sense of style and wear it with a casual, confident attitude, and you’ll already be most of the way there.