By no means am I an expert on fashion, not by a long shot, but I thought I would write this article so new people moving to Los Angeles don’t make embarrassing fashion mistakes that I did. If you are moving to Los Angeles, you may want to consider fashion for the first time in your life. That doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself, but only that you should be aware of certain fashion trends. Like it or not, image is very important in Los Angeles, and you don’t want to lose out on the important job or audition because you are a fashion klutz.
One of the first painful lessons I learned, concerned my shoes. Coming from Montana, I had never thought much about the shoes I wore. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with wearing scuffed shoes either. A girl I was dating who grew up in Los Angles told me discreetly that a girlfriend of hers who she had introduced me to had nixed me. “Just look at his shoes,” the girlfriend had said. I was overwhelmed with embarrassment. I felt like a total hick.
Another bad shoe story. In Montana, we wore Teva style sandals. That just doesn’t fly in the beach communities, where everyone wears flip flops. When I moved to Hermosa Beach, I was quickly pegged as a geek, and laughed at because I was wearing Tevas. Now, knowing that, you can choose to buck the trend or not, but it is better to be aware of it.
I will never forgot a line Danny Aiello said as a character in some movie, “I can tell immediately where a man is at in life just by looking at his shoes.” I am now a big time believer in good footwear. I have several pairs of shoes, and make sure they are always shined and looking great. I often buy slightly used shoes on Ebay and have gotten some great deals. I know my size, and the shoes usually fit well. Nordstom’s Rack is another good place to buy shoes. You may be struggling to make the rent, but don’t let people suspect that because your shoes suck. Nothing repels people in LA quicker than a sense of desperation.
Don’t be a Fashion Klutz
• Footwear is IMPORTANT
• Don’t overdress
• Be aware of fashion trends
• Avoid being a stereotype
• Create your own style
LA is Casual…
Another thing you will notice in LA is that it is pretty casual when it comes to fashion. People do not often dress up in suits when it comes to weddings, or even business meetings. I once attended a wedding in Connecticut, and everybody was dressed in a suit. That almost never happens here. Sport jackets and jeans are the norm, or even sweaters and jeans. Now, I am speaking in terms of men, for women fashion trends run the gamut and it is harder to gauge.
As a screenwriter, I tended to overdress for meetings when I first came to LA. I looked like a young Republican, and not a hip LA screenwriter. I cringe when I think of that now. If you want to look like a young Republican, do it all the time and create your own fashion trend. Don’t do it because you absolutely don’t know any better.
I know one guy who is a television host. He always wears a tie and sport jacket. That is not really the LA trend, but it is his style, and it works well for him. I know another very successful actor who always wears t-shirts and ragged jeans. That is his style and it works for him. I don’t know many successful people in Los Angeles that wear suits one day, cowboy outfits the next, velvet track suits the next, and shorts and flip flops the next. Most of the successful people I know in Los Angeles have a consistent style. I personally think tank tops look ugly on almost everyone, but Richard Simmons made himself a good career wearing them.
I also see many people who look alike. They fit into some subculture, so they dress exactly like everyone else in their demographic. They all have the same earrings, the same beards, the same tattoos, or the same type of jeans as everyone else does in their particular group. Stereotypes are boring. Be aware of fashion trends, and create your own style in Los Angeles, but don’t be a follower. Anyone can do that.
There is an interesting store in Burbank called, “It’s a Wrap”, where you can buy slightly used clothes that have been used on movies and television shows. I bought a really cool leather jacket in there that was used on “First Blood,” and I also bought a very nice sport jacket for a fraction of the retail price. They have lots of suits, nice shoes, and women’s clothing also. You don’t have to be a millionaire to look like one. Invest in yourself.
If you are moving to Los Angeles, you don’t have to abandon your regional identity – just be aware of what the Romans are doing, and then you can decide if you want to be a Roman or not. Sit and watch people at the mall, in the nightclubs, and on the street. Look at the fashion magazines. See what successful people are wearing. Pay attention. Don’t be a sheep, a hick, or a fashion fool.