In the mythology of the West, Los Angeles is equal parts grit and glamour. The reality isn’t far-off: Impossibly pink bougainvillea blooms feet away from gray highways choked with round-the-clock traffic. Look to your left at a stoplight and you may see a bored Uber driver, tooling around for fares, or a young starlet going incognito with sunglasses leaving her local coffee shop.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a city that is, among many other things, a showbiz town, Los Angeles is defined by its imagery: the Hollywood sign, palm trees and beaches, of course, but also lowriders, Art Deco buildings and street vendors. For Angelenos themselves, those visuals can take the form of one’s personal aesthetic. Fred Segal shirt, or Lakers jersey? Gleaming Nike Cortezes, or worn-out flip-flops?
Ahead of L.A. Fashion Week, which runs from Wednesday through Sunday, The New York Times asked West Coasters for their ideas of the quintessential Los Angeles uniform.
She Likes Her Skirts Long and Her Shirts Soft
Bethany Cosentino, 36, singer-songwriter and Best Coast vocalist
Many people from Los Angeles wouldn’t consider Bethany Cosentino a valley girl, but her 818 area code has entered the chat. Ms. Cosentino, a singer-songwriter best known for her work in the indie rock duo Best Coast — even the group’s name is a declaration of West Coast supremacy — grew up in La Crescenta, an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County that borders Glendale, where she lives now.
Ms. Cosentino’s look has transformed from the leather of her early rocker-chick days to a looser aesthetic filled with linens and lacelike fabrics. She often completes the look with Birkenstock’s Boston clogs, rounding off what she said felt “like the uniform of a lot of my friends and L.A. women in their mid-30s.”
Her favorite pieces from her closet are a 1970s Linda Ronstadt T-shirt and a 1976 Joni Mitchell jacket that her mother gave her as a 25th-birthday present.
Most of her clothing is from thrift stores, she said, adding that she has been going to Squaresville, a vintage store in Los Feliz, since she was 16. She also makes the occasional 30-to-40-minute trek through the valley to hit up the nearest Savers thrift store.
“When I go thrifting, I’m mostly on the hunt for long skirts,” Ms. Cosentino said, “something that I can pair with a loosefitting crop top. I’m looking for the softest vintage cotton T-shirt.”
Conductor Chic: A Suit, a Bow Tie and Converse Sneakers
Gustavo Dudamel, 42, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
If you’ve ever seen a live outdoor orchestra on a summer evening at the Hollywood Bowl, chances are you’ve seen Gustavo Dudamel, the music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, dressed for the starriest of what he referred to as “the different seasons of music making.”
“Nothing feels more like summer to me than wearing my white suit and black bow tie onstage at the Hollywood Bowl, sharing music with thousands of Angelenos each night in our legendary open-air home,” he wrote in an email.
In the fall, he trades his breezy summer suit for a black suit jacket and bow tie, which he wears to performances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
But for as much as Mr. Dudamel, who prizes look sharp and elegant onstage, offstage, he’s a man who loves a good pair of Converse sneakers and a simple T-shirt.
“Converse is such an iconic brand, and their sneakers represent that unique combination of style, function and rock ’n’ roll energy that is at the heart of Los Angeles,” he said.
His YOLA (Youth Orchestra of L.A.) T-shirt holds sentimental value in his closet, and he said that watching the music education program expand across the city has been one of the proudest moments of his career. No doubt the keepsake will make the move east with him when he becomes the next music and artistic director of the New York Philharmonic (beginning in 2026).
The Fashion Plate in City Hall? Not Exactly.
Karen Bass, 70, mayor of Los Angeles
Growing up in the Venice and Fairfax neighborhoods of Los Angeles, Karen Bass wasn’t what you would call a clotheshorse. “Frankly,” she wrote in an email, “I was never one to pay attention to the trending fashion looks.”
Her style has since evolved, from her days in scrubs at White Memorial Hospital to the neat pantsuits she typically wears when conducting the business of Los Angeles. Still, Ms. Bass, the city’s first female mayor, has a few personal items that she never leaves the house without, including a wedding ring and necklace that once belonged to her daughter, who died in a car accident in 2006.
“Here in Los Angeles, we wear our love,” she said, “whether it’s for our city, our communities, our neighborhoods or our families.”
Amplifying the ‘Background Noise’ of the City
Joey Barba, 34, and Javier Bandera, 36, founders of Paisaboys
A look that’s all in the details: a charro pattern on a pair of Levi’s 501s and a classic blue Dodgers hat with the same detailed print on the brim. An oversize black T-shirt that reads “LA THE HARD WAY, WE DO WHAT YOU WON’T” alongside a list of occupations — cook, landscaper, construction worker, nanny, farmer, custodian.
The details aren’t subtle, but neither is a paisa — Spanish slang for a Mexican American who is unabashedly proud of his heritage.
For Joey Barba and Javier Bandera, friends turned business partners from Venice and Culver City, Paisaboys is much more than a brand; to them, it’s a way to honor their Mexican roots and celebrate Los Angeles’s working class. Both grew up doing manual labor alongside their immigrant fathers — Mr. Barba working as a gardener and Mr. Bandera washing cars. With Paisaboys, they wanted a uniform that embodied all aspects of who they are.
“Every paisa is a star,” Mr. Barba said. “We want to shine a light on everybody that feels like they’re not represented, or feels invisible. When you’re gardening or washing cars, you feel like background noise in this city.”
Low-Key Since Her Swap-Meet Days
Syd, 31, singer-songwriter and former vocalist of indie R&B group the Internet
Sydney Bennett, a singer-songwriter known professionally as Syd, defines her style as casual. She said her current look was a white Uniqlo T-shirt, some shorts and a hat. (Her barber was on vacation at the time.)
Her favorite piece from her closet, however, is a pair of Maison Margiela jeans. They’re heavy and baggy, she said, but still “aesthetically pleasing.”
Growing up in Mid City, she was able to tap into Los Angeles’s diaspora of neighborhoods and cultures. It’s also where she would go to the heart of the city’s fashion scene.
“I used to go to the 10th Avenue swap meet with my mom,” recalled Ms. Bennett, a writer of Beyoncé’s Grammy Award-winning “Plastic Off the Sofa.” “I would get my hats embroidered there and I remember going as a kid and feeling clean and fresh. I guess you never really think about how L.A. that is until you start seeing the rest of the world.”
Style Inspiration, Courtesy of the 6 A.M. Crowd
Daniel Buezo, 35, and Weleh Dennis, 37, founders of Kids of Immigrants
Muted colors, embroidered floral vests and a simple message: That’s how Daniel Buezo and Weleh Dennis would describe not just their personal aesthetics, but also their clothing brand, Kids of Immigrants. The two were inspired by the culture clash they saw when living in Pico Union, a neighborhood that abuts Downtown, South Los Angeles, Koreatown and Westlake.
While their clothing brand is based in Los Angeles, it tells a story that reaches far beyond the city limits.
“We would take these walks down MacArthur Park, like, at 6 in the morning,” said Mr. Buezo, who is originally from New York. “It’s a full hustle and bustle, from the people who are commuting, to foreigners and street vendors. They are the real L.A. uniform.”
Their personal style is about mixing different worlds together. Mr. Buezo usually incorporates streetwear with vintage pieces — typically a T-shirt from Kids of Immigrants or another local brand paired with loosefitting jeans from a thrift store. Mr. Dennis, a Sacramento native, is all about subtle jewelry, usually complementing a distressed T-shirt and a pair of Dickies.
The Gender Chameleons of Echo Park
Ashley S.P., 31, and Jennifer Zapata, 34, shop owners of Género Neutral
Ashley S.P. and Jennifer Zapata may not be able to call Los Angeles their hometown, but the two friends share a mutual love of the city. They own Género Neutral, an Echo Park boutique featuring streetwear “in an ungendered presentation.”
The shop sells screen-printed T-shirts of its own design alongside wares from other local brands. The selection is of a piece with its mission to be a community hub for the city’s creative types.
For Ms. S.P. and Ms. Zapata, there are no rules when it comes to their style. Both like to play with gender expression, presenting more feminine one day, more masculine the next. Ms. S.P.’s signature look includes her botas, or cowboy boots, which she wears almost every day. Ms. Zapata loves a simple pair of tabi boots or thick Nike sneakers. It’s all in the duality.
“In L.A., you can kind of be a chameleon in comfort and gender expression,” Ms. S.P. said. “There isn’t a very strict expectation of you wearing all designer or a friend’s brand. You can play in a really approachable way.”
Get Your Name on a Gold-Plated Necklace
Yesika Salgado, 39, poet
For the poet Yesika Salgado, Los Angeles is not just a place to call home; it’s her muse. The two-time National Poetry Slam finalist grew up near Dodger Stadium, and her work explores the complexity of love and her relationship with the city. In “Casamiento,” which she wrote during a freezing winter in New York City, she tells Los Angeles: “I choose you in this life, in my parents’ lives and in the lives they left to bring me to you.”
Ms. Salgado’s go-to look rests on four staples: crop tops, hoop earrings, red lipstick and long acrylic nails. Her most prized possession is a gold-plated name necklace that was a birthday present from a friend.
“Almost anytime I’m ever photographed anywhere, I’m wearing it,” Ms. Salgado said.
“Because I feel like it’s like I graduated into like a fly girl, you know?”