The Unofficial Guide To SoCal Beach Style

California girls, they’re unforgettable. And we’ve got all the tips on how to dress like one.

By Nicole Andre3 min read
The Unofficial Guide To SoCal Beach Style

Fashion is changing all the time, and trends come and go, but I’ve rounded up the most steadfast looks of California fashion. My sources? Being a California girl! I’m Orange County born and bred and have picked up a thing or two about the way girls out here dress.

The first thing to know is that California style is super laidback. So it’s all about casual style all the time. And unlike French girl style, where the whole idea is putting thought and effort into looking effortless, California style truly is effortless. So while some influencers from here might look like they put time into their outfit, the average Californian has generally just thrown something on and walked out the door without a second thought.

So luckily, if you’re into the California girl aesthetic, it’s actually super easy to replicate once you understand the general vibe. Although, you’ll need warm weather to wear most of these, so if you’re in a colder climate this will be more of a summer shopping list! Don’t worry I have a few colder weather (as cold as it ever really gets out here) items on the list.  So without further ado, let’s get into the things you’ll see SoCal women wearing all the time!

Floral Dresses

Whether it’s a maxi, midi, or mini, a floral dress is a popular choice among California girls at all times of the year. The (mostly) seasonless dressing of southern California means that a floral dress is actually a suitable choice for most of the year, maybe with a jean jacket over it if it’s a little on the cooler side. If you’re from CA and your friend tells the group chat to “dress cute,” someone will wear a floral dress.

Athleisure...Athleisure Everywhere

The casual, California look is all about a pair of leggings. So if you have a pair of black leggings in your wardrobe, you’re already halfway there. And one trend that I see more and more of around here is matching sets. They’re great because they help you look just a bit more put together!

Surfing Inspired

So much of California style is inspired by surfing and skate culture. You really can’t talk about the fashion that’s unique to the state without talking about that influence. Some popular brands girls wear, especially in beach cities, for that surfer girl look are RVCA, O’Neill, and Billabong.

Graphic Tees

It's probably something to do with being so close to the record studios, but LA girls love vintage band tees. They're perfect for pairing with ripped jeans or layering over your bikini.

Oversized Sweaters

California does everything as casually as possible, and that includes knitwear. A chunky sweater that’s a bit on the oversized side is perfect for your California girl look. A pair of shorts will work for the spring and summer while jeans or leggings are the typical choices for the fall and winter months. 

And this also carries over into those oversized teddy jackets you’ve probably seen everywhere in recent years. Questioning how I still haven’t gotten one!

So Much Denim

You can expect tons of denim from the state where Levi’s got going. And, boy, do Californian women deliver! Even in the land where leggings reign, a girl’s gotta get dressed up from time to time. And by get dressed up, I mean put on a pair of jeans! Whether it’s a jacket, pants, or shirt, if you’re in California, you’re going to see plenty of denim.

Crop Tops and Tank Tops

In the spring and summer, you really can’t go anywhere without seeing one of these two things. Nobody knows what this summer holds, but if my past summers spent in California have taught me anything, it’s that I should expect a full-fledged return of the crop top. (This style also overlaps with the return to '90s style that's happening right now.)

Tie Dye

The boho hippie influence of the ‘60s and ‘70s is still strong in California. It might also have to do with weed culture, but beach babes are still all about the tie dye. Whether it's a bikini or a crop top, the print has yet to go out of style here.

Sun Hats

In the summer you need all the protection from the sun you can get, so the hat is both a cute and functional choice that’s super common here in SoCal.

Chunky Sandals

You may be horrified, but I promise that every SoCal beach girl has a pair of these in her closet. Whether it's the influence of decades of hippies, or the fact that they're stupidly comfortable, no beach wardrobe is complete without a pair of these babies.

Long Beachy Waves

The blonde California girl stereotype is probably overdone (although we do love our highlights). But you know what’s not? The long wavy hair. It’s always in! In fact, I just got a haircut to armpit length, and I think it’s the shortest I’ve ever gone. So if you want the California girl look, long hair is the way to go. (Here's a guide for how to get them!)

Closing Thoughts

California style is all about casual laidback style with a beachy undercurrent created by the surf culture that’s shaped the state. So if you want to dress like you live by the ocean, no matter how far from it you are, grow out your hair, get at least one pair of Vans, and go from there.

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