Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.
That being said, you probably buy most of your clothes at stores, and since stores buy their merch based on what’s fashionable this season, it’s probable that, whether you know it or not, you sometimes walk out with something “in.” Sorry, hipsters.
But wipe those tears away, trends don’t bite! In fact, as Sway store manager, Kristen Kovaletz explained in a sit-down with GT, they might even make you feel good.
“I think fashion is an expression of yourself,” says Kovaletz. “A lot of times people who are shy or people who don’t express themselves in really overt, obvious ways can say a lot with what they’re wearing.”
And, while Santa Cruz isn’t exactly known as the fashion capital of the West, there’s something to be said about the unique demands we make on designers. “The thing that sets Santa Cruz apart is that we are really doing so many different things throughout the day,” says Kovaletz. “Can I wear this to the 515 and also wear it to the beach? Do I have to go home in between because I’m biking?’”
So what is the Santa Cruz femme wearing this summer? Kovaletz and the Sway team helped GT put together a list of styles that are trending, with their own Santa Cruz flavor.
Out: Loud Prints
In: Detailed Basics
The past three years saw a huge revival of screaming, semi-’80s, semi-Native-American-inspired printed tees. Thankfully, many have endured what can only be described as passerby eye-fatigue and are opting instead for an easier look; simple tops with one detail that stands alone, no eye-straining colors or prints. Tank tops with a small crochet detail or patterned sleeves, and soft materials with a mandala or pattern on the front can be paired and patterned in any which way.
Although the trend might sound like a fairly elementary choice, Kovaletz says it’s unique to the local vibe in that the low-key, subtler tops are in: “Girls in Santa Cruz don’t like sassy T-shirts, the type of shirt that we all wore in elementary school.” No more self-proclaimed statements of “bossy” or “hyphy” jumping out from chests, thank goodness, this summer’s Santa Cruz girls are comfortably easygoing.
Tribal back detail top by Bear Dance, $24.95, Acid Washed Denim Shorts by Vibrant, $34.50. Model: Christina Cheney.
Embroidered Trim tank top by Bear Dance, $18.50, Kimono by Hug, $26.50, Pea-colored Crochet Shorts by Wishlist, $26.95, Laudy shoes by Qupid, $26.95. Model: Hannah Westervelt.
Out: Chunky Neckwear
In: Thin Lines
Brightly colored, enormous chunks of plastic or faux rhinestones pair perfectly with a cropped blazer, skinnies, and towering pumps for a night out club-hopping. Santa Cruz doesn’t really have that many clubs, though, and so flashy neckwear doesn’t often find an opportunity to shine. “I get the sense from our store and I get the sense from street vendors, girls aren’t really liking the big, chunky, short necklaces right now—I think that is a really urban look,” explains Kovaletz.
Instead, ’90s-era chokers and long chain necklaces with a large pendant—maybe a geode or tool—at the end are selling big-time, for the laid-back outfit with just a hint of accessorizing.
Statement Pendant Necklace and Daisy Choker, $16.00
Out: Girly Babydolls
In: Statement Bottoms
Maybe it’s because summers in Santa Cruz don’t often get above 70 degrees, or maybe it’s because we all haven’t shaved our legs in a few eons (just staying true to the Santa Cruz vibe, ladies), but full-length bottoms are very in.
“We’re working away from a sweeter look, and toward a more earthy, comfortable look,” says Kovaletz. Instead of the babydoll dresses and itty bitty minis, printed trouser pants are not only functional for hopping on and off a bicycle—with a brightly colored floral or airy zebra-print track pants, they’re appropriate for any occasion or weather- shock Santa Cruz might throw at you.
Black lace crop top by Bear Dance, $16.50. Batik trousers by Sweet Claire, $29.50. Model: Laura Boden
Black crop top by The Hanger, $16.95. Blue bandana print trousers by The Hanger, $32.95. Wedge sandals by Jozy, $26.00. Model: Hannah Westervelt.
Out: Niche Couture
In: Wear Anywhere
Between work, picking up the kids, drinks with friends, and date night, finding an outfit that’s just right can feel a little bit like crossing the Potomac without an oar (or in this case, Mission Street by bicycle). And that doesn’t even begin to cover the temperature difference a five- minute drive can make in this city. Let’s face it, getting from point A to point B can either throw you into frying heat or freezing gusts, which is why women are forced to dress smart, in preparation for anything. As Kovaletz points out, the major defining point of Santa Cruz fashion is that women like to feel comfortable and prepared, without having to put in maximum effort to get out the door.
“Girls are really looking toward meshing their low-stress, natural look with looking and feeling good,” she says. That’s where the beauty of the “overlay” comes in, as pictured above. A simple piece of printed fabric can instantly turn a bathing suit cover-up to a 515-ready ensemble, and a street-ready skirt can be made bike-ready with a pair of shorts underneath.
White Sheer Dress with Lace Detailing by Cotton Candy, $38.95. Black Floral Kimono by Hug, $34.95. Model: Christina Cheney
Black cropped sweater by Ekklesia, $26.00, Blue Skirt by Cecico, $24. Model: Reece Perkins
Ah, the ’90s—a time when you could wear basically any pattern with basically any style, throw on some torn-up Converse, slap a backward baseball cap over unwashed hair and skate out the door. For the grunge scene, fashion was a misnomer. Thankfully, the year 2014 is reclaiming the comfort of over-sized plaids and gargantuan clogs, giving us all a little more wiggle room. Fall this year is going to be all about the ’90s, with darker, rich hues to send summer on it’s way; “We’re going to move into really beautiful warm tones like mustard, and maroon as well as a burnt orange and rose-gold type of thing; we’re going to be having a lot of boots that go up to your knee and lace up from the bottom,” says Kovaletz. The best thing about the grunge look is that you can dress it up or down, acceptably wear what may be thought of in some circles as pajamas, and also feel sexy in high-waisted pencil skirts, pleated minis, or overalls. So, grunge it up, people, because viva la ’90s.
Black Skateboard Dress by The Hanger, $29.50. Flannel plaid shirt by The Hanger, $32.95. Knockout shoes by Wanted, $46. Model: Reece Perkins.