The time I've spent over the past few years at my parents' place in Boston has had a profound impact on my look. Obviously, my personal style couldn't be farther from the preppy look most commonly associated with the east coast. Once you move past your preconceived notions of gingham and cable knit (They DO very much exist there. On guys. At clubs. But, we're not going to talk about that. I just can't.), you see these great elements of style just dying to be "roughed up" a bit. Boston and Cape Cod actually have quite a Bohemian history... The beat authors were big fans of the rocky beaches of the Cape and pubs of Boston. During their union, Carly Simon and James Taylor were responsible for making Martha's Vineyard a popular haunt for folk artists and hippies. (Carly still lives there and their children, Ben and Sally, are both musicians who play small venues on the island and in the city.) That hippie vibe is still there, you just have to know where to look. Ugh, I'm getting off subject. My purpose here is to lay out some of the classic "east coast" things that I think should be staples in everyone's wardrobe, even those of us who tend to be far from prepsters, so here goes...
1) Jack Rogers footwear: (If you've ever been to Boston, you know it's just not a platform-friendly town. Those 400 year old cobblestones will wreck a pair of Choos and your precious piggies.) The Jack Rogers line actually hails from Palm Beach but has become sononymous with Cape Cod. The classic style is the "Navajo" which was made famous by the fact that they were the only sandals Jackie O. would wear. She had them custom made in every color. Luckily for us, they're available in tons of colors now, even if you aren't American royalty. These are often spotted in pastel shades worn with Lily Pulitzer sheaths. NOT on me. I buy mine in earthy tones, in suede, and stocked up when they made a gladiator version of the classic. They're great with distressed denim and flowy dresses and they're ridiculously comfortable.
2) Longchamp "le pliage" tote: They're popular in every big city because they're so lightweight and convenient but they're a phenomenon there. Definitely the bag of choice. I've loved them forever. It's hard not to; they weigh nothing, fold up for storage, hold everything, are cost efficent (as far as designer bags go), and are waterproof. The first one I bought is pale green. After 10 years or so it had gotten grungy so I threw it, leather trim and all, in the washing machine on gentle and hung it to dry. It looks brand new. I also have the extra large version which I use to shop.You can "build your own" on their website. It's very cool. I did one for my mom a few years ago.
3) Sperry Top Sider: I NEVER thought I'd say this but they have a place. They're having a moment right now and, while I do believe it's fleeting, the company has been around forever epitomizes the east coast lifestyle. They're comfortable, easy, and keep you from falling off a sail boat. Mine are gold leather and I really do love them. Will I be wearing them 5 years from now? Absolutely not but they will forever be associated with American style and I respect that.
4) Rope bracelets: This is the first time I've gone there and not bought one. I just kind of forgot. So classic "summer on the Cape". I love them tossed on carelessly with beautiful "real" jewelry or with other beads and macrame. I wear mine along side my vintage Cartier tank watch. VERY east coast. ;)
5) TOMS: These aren't necessarily an east coast thing but you see them on WAY more people there so they've definitely become a staple. You should see them on way more people EVERYWHERE. If you've been living under a rock and don't know, for every pair of TOMS you buy, the company donates a pair to a child in need. They have recently expanded into sunglasses as well. The shoes are super comfortable. I buy them for Rowan as well. The company is amazing. Go buy a pair. Now.
6) Louis Vuitton "Neverfull" tote: Basically the LV answer to the "le pliage", it hasn't been around that long (in Vuitton terms, at least) but is already a classic. It's easy, comfy, and looks great with everything and it's not very expensive (again, in Vuitton terms). This happens to be my everyday bag of choice and I promise, it's a sound investment. It's like the "speedy", you'll never get bored with it and it will always be chic.
7) Sea Bags: These actually come from Maine but are popular up and down the coast. This is another very cool "green" company. The bags are made from recycled sails. Love these! In fact, I love them as much as the LL Bean "boat tote" which also has to be included on this list.
8) City Sports, Boston t-shirts: City Sports is just a sporting goods store but these t's are insanely popular. They have locations in lots of other cities but I guess the Bostonians are way more into the t's. Maybe because Ben Affleck runs around in his all the time, I don't know. I do know they're super soft. I buy mens ones and cut the neck flashdance style to wear with leggings when I work out.
Speaking of east coast style, If anyone has managed to successfully capture "Americana style", it's Ralph Lauren. His Rugby line is insanely popular in Boston and he is launching a new line in Spring '12 that I'm super stoked for. It's to be called RL Denim & Supply and his goal was to make a line with a "bohemian beach meets western wear" appeal. The SS12 men's collection is called "Baja", the women's is called "Cape Cod". The first RL Denim & Supply stores slated to open are NYC, London, and Tokyo. Thank the fashion gods for the Internet. ;) This photo is the officially released sneak peek at the line. Love it! xx