East Coast Style Mavens Face Off Against Their West Coast Counterparts

Claire Coghlan

Southern California fashionistas can be looser thanks to the weather, but the New York brigade has the edge when it comes to being able to change up outfits seasonally. Designers share their must-have brands and makeup necessities.

Karla Welch
Stylist atKemal & Karla

“I’m all about a big pant [Dries Van Noten or Celine], little top and Vans,” says the L.A. half of a bi-coastal style team, who counts Olivia Wilde and Justin Bieber as clients. “New Yorkers seem to be living for the street-style pics; since we drive in L.A., we can be a little more functional. But I don’t subscribe to the idea that NYC has a leg up on us Angelenos,” adds Welch, whose office must-have is a “red lip — usually Nars Heat Wave.”

Meritt Elliott
Stylist & Designer at The Great

“My daily uniform is a mash-up of denim, T’s and flats,” says the co-founder of Current Elliott. “I either slip on a slouchy denim bottom, overall, or indigo dress. If it’s cool outside, I’ll layer on soft twill army jackets or thick knit cardigans.” Her office must-haves? “A monogrammed Cuyana tote to schlep my computer, gold Shinola watch to keep on time, and aviators [Ray-Ban] for an outdoor photo shoot.”

Emily Current
Stylist & Designer at The Great

“I’m a jeans-and-T kind of girl, and use jackets, accessories, and lipstick to mix things up,” says Current, Elliott’s business partner and best friend. “I mostly wear The Great, vintage, or a combination of the two. I dress for the day in Los Angeles just as I would in New York — somewhat put together, with the ability to walk miles and go to after-work drinks.” Her office must-have? “My giant Celine tote that I throw everything in.”

Blair Lawson
Head Merchant at Goop

“The formality of Manhattan just doesn’t translate in L.A.; maybe because it’s impossible to drive in heels,” says the recent transplant, whose go-to look is “a really good jean [MIH or R13] and blouse [Atlantique Ascoli or Co]. If I have a meeting, I’ll dress up, maybe a Phillip Lim dress and blazer with Gianvito Rossi heels. In the winter, I’ll layer on a chunky [Stella McCartney] cardigan.” Lawson’s current obsession? “My new Goop-label chambray button-down.”

Heather Taylor
Art Consultant & Textile Designer
Heather Taylor Home

“One of the delightful things about L.A. is not having to think in terms of summer and winter wardrobes,” says Taylor. “When I’m in my office, the vibe is super cozy — army pants or jeans with a cashmere sweater [The Row].” Otherwise, it’s “high-waist trousers [Jesse Kamm], a beautiful blouse [Beatrice Valenzuela], and a red lip [Dragon Girl by Nars]. I’m on the road a lot, driving from meeting to vendor, and I don’t leave home without my Garrett Leight x Clare V sunglasses.”

Kemal Harris
Stylist at Kemal & Karla

“New Yorkers have to dress for the weather: extreme humidity or knee-deep snow,” says Welch’s East Coast partner, whose clients include Robin Wright and Anna Paquin. “In summer, I wear vintage rock T’s with Helmut Lang or Frame denim. In winter, it’s cashmere [Uniqlo], a leather moto jacket [Burberry], rocker boots [Saint Laurent] and lots of fake fur [Stella McCartney]. Her current must-have? “A Saint Laurent, cross-body bag to keep my hands free.”

Katie Ermilio
Fashion Designer
Katie Ermilio

“I live in jeans year-round,” says Ermilio, who’s dressed Jessica Alba and Taylor Swift. “My job requires me to run around between fittings, and I spend a lot of time on the floor pinning hemlines. I’ve worn through the knees of plenty of my favorite pairs! For meetings and client appointments, I’ll swap a white T for a blouse from the collection and change into the Chanel flats I keep by my desk.” Her office must-have? “My Céline glasses.”

Michelle Lee
Editor-in-Chief at Allure

“I’m big on one-pieces like dresses and jumpsuits, because they look pulled together with the least amount of effort,” says the dedicated flouter of fashion rules. “When I first moved to New York, I was in black all the time. But I’ve completely flipped that.” Lee mixes statement pieces (Gucci, Altuzarra, Valentino) with fashion finds (Topshop, Forever 21, Zara). Her antidote to the 4 p.m. slump? “Lipstick! My current favorites are Lipstick Queen Bête Noire in Possessed Metal and Givenchy Magnolia Couture Edition Le Rouge.”

Jennifer Zuccarini
Founder and Designer at Fleur du Mal

“My go-to work look is a collared shirt in white or Oxford blue; I’ll often add a black silk neck tie,” says the lingerie maven. “In the middle of a 90-degree New York summer, I stick to skirts, shorts, and dresses in silk and cotton. In the winter, I’m pretty attached to my Yves Salomon parka. Lately, I’ve been wearing a lot of bodysuits with a pencil skirt, leather shorts, or denim. I wouldn’t leave the house without [Dries Van Noten or Gucci] sunglasses.”

CeCe Barfield Thompson
Interior Designer
CeCe Barfield, Inc.

“Interior design involves a lot of schlepping and construction-site visits, so my work uniform is skinny jeans, a feminine blouse, and [Chanel] flats,” says Thompson. “In the winter, I’m all about light layers. I’m currently seven months’ pregnant, so I’ve been wearing a ton of dresses by Roksanda. You’ll definitely catch me wearing white after Labor Day — there’s nothing chicer than winter white!”

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