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Style Wars: East Coast vs. West Coast

One of the amazing things about being a Notre Dame student is the exposure to different cultures and styles of fellow students. ND students come from all over the world, and more so all over the United States, where styles can differ so drastically even with only a few hundred miles difference.

Here in the States, the most dominant styles originate from opposite ends of the country: the East Coast and the West Coast. In particular, although each one of us lady Domers has our own unique sense of style, it is easy to tell whether a gal is from the East Coast or West Coast just by simple attributes of her style.

East Coast Style:

The style in the Eastern region of the US is definitely sleeker and more polished then the opposing region. Navy, white, bright greens and pinks make consistent appearances and simple patterns, i.e. checker, stripe, polka dot, are common. East Coast style has structure and purpose, even when the look is casual and/or laid-back. Unlike the West, outfits are easily sophisticated without coming across uptight, and an Easterner rarely mismatches. East Coast ladies have tastefully mastered the art of layering and bold color usage without looking overdone. Casual jeans make rare appearances and outfits are never less than precisely chic.

The very polished look of layering

The use of bold colors made to look put-together

Mixing of textures used in the classic preppy look of the East

Simple accessories and fun patterns in a simple look

West Coast Style:

In the West, style is more carefree and relaxed, even when dressed up (contradictory of the Eastern counterpart). Style is more festival-oriented (think Coachella or Outside Lands) and is inspired by natural bohemian looks. West Coast style walks the fine line between careless and creative, and does so in the most chic manner. Ivory and black are constant go-to’s, and typical prints are floral and tribal-inspired. Crop-tops and jean shorts are found everywhere you look, and looks are always flow-y and effortless. Rips, fringe, and crochet are star attributes to clothing and accessories worn in the West, and contrasting textures are always welcome.

The typical carefree and grungy look of a West Coast gal

Fringe and crochet, mixed with a boho bag, give the classic Cali vibe

Crop-tops and short-shorts at their festival finest

Fringe, black hues, and grungy floral make up the perfect flower child look


Having only experienced the golden and gorgeous California paradise before the move to Notre Dame, I was in extreme style shock as I began to meet and know lady Domers from back East. All at once, I vanished from my Cali-cool comfort zone and the preppy-polished vibe of the East Coast completely overtook me. At the time, it seemed like everyone was from the East Coast and I did not share a similar style with anyone. Sometimes it is nice to break through comfort zones and make risky style decisions, however it felt like every style decision I made was risky and all I wanted to do was hide behind the typical ND style uniform. Now as I look back with refreshed eyes, I see that I should have stayed true to myself because I was, in fact, not alone even in the slightest. Every freshman felt the need to fit in and mold to the so-called “standard Notre Dame female student.” Everyone was ripped from their comfort zones and thrown, full-throttle, into a new life with new everything. We were all used to the comfortable styles, cultures, and patterns of wherever we called “back home,” and for most of us, “back home” was very different.

If a stylish lady Domer is used to solely one of these styles, it is hard to get used to the other. At a point, it is natural to think about whether one is preferable to the other. It is our natural tendency to compare, but in this case, the comparison comes out neutral. In certain instances, like an interview, it would be nice to dress more polished and clean. On the other hand, there are times when ripped jeans and crochet are favorable, like at a festival. The point of style is to express who you are, no matter what. You do not have to conform to what you think is popular. All you have to do is show the world that you are uniquely you.

Live and let live, classy lady Domers!


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Hello there! I am a Computer Science major from the golden Redding, California. I enjoy making people smile, dazing about the ocean, smelling like sunshine, and programming until my fingers cramp. California sand is my friend and I would much rather be laughing at the beach than almost anything else. I am a firm believer in great things taking copious amounts of time. Jason Mraz said it best with "the absence of the light is a necessary part." Though I see the incredibility of technology, the simple things in life are what really matter. The concept of 'family' is an extraordinary attribute of modern civilization. Check out my articles if you ever so desire!
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