Here Are The 5 Fashion Lessons I Took To Heart After Living In NYC For A Week

by Stephanie Montes
Courtesy of Stephanie Montes

I'm a California girl to my core. Born and raised in L.A., my wardrobe almost exclusively comprises open-toed shoes, flowy dresses, miniskirts, and sleeveless tops. I'm the type to hang out at the beach in not much more than a hoodie in the middle of winter, so needless to say, planning a trip to the East Coast during one of the coldest months of the year sent a shiver down my spine in more ways than one. But once I overcame the initial shock of what 40 degree weather actually feels like, adopting New York City street style came surprisingly easy.

My week of living in New York left an indelible mark on some of my fashion choices — something I didn't expect at all. So now, quite some time after I've returned to warmer weather and doing much less walking, I'm still sticking to the five fashion lessons I learned while living in the Big Apple for a week.

Lesson #1: Be Smart With Seasonal Shopping

Stephanie Montes

Seeing as the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees in L.A., I don't own a legit winter coat. To me, an oversized scarf and a leather jacket is winter wear. When I first booked my flight, I asked around for a coat to borrow, but none of my L.A. friends could come to the rescue.

Buying a brand new coat I'd never wear again seemed silly, so I turned to designer consignment boutique LePrix to stock up on a few winter staples. They're used, so they're more affordable, but honestly, you'd never know from looking at them. And the best part is, since everything is authentic, I could resell them once I headed back home if I wanted to. Additionally, by keeping used clothes out of landfills, it's not just good for my wallet; the environment wins, too.

Lesson #2: Don't Let Your Insecurities Hold You Back

Converse x GOLF le FLEUR* Chuck 70 High Top ($110;

I'm 5 feet tall, so catching me in a pair of flat shoes is a rare sighting. I wear heels almost every day of the week (I like having the height!), but it's not so much of a problem in L.A. — I drive everywhere! However, with all the walking I did in New York City, I had no choice but to get comfortable in a pair of sneakers or flat boots.

Every time I've tried to wear the sneaker trend back home, I picked myself apart in the mirror, and I spiraled in a bout of insecurities and negative thoughts about how I looked. However, on my trip, when I ultimately had no choice but to wear flats, regardless of what I thought I saw in the mirror, my mindset changed. By the end of the week, I got used to seeing myself in flats (it was like fashion shock therapy), I learned to work with my favorite assets, and, most importantly, I stopped critiquing myself so harshly. This was a thought process I was happy to take back home to L.A. with me

Lesson #3: Invest In One Statement Piece That You Can Wear Again And Again

I got my hands on this stunning Alexander McQueen coat from the Decades Inc. shop on LePrix. Full disclosure: It was expensive. But I learned that one really special piece can make your outfit shine (even if you pair it with a Forever 21 sweater and Converse sneakers, like I did in the first photo, and again with a band tee and jeans here).

When you take the plunge to invest in one statement piece, perhaps every season, and master the art of high-low dressing, you have the ability to dress up your basics if you want to, to go all out with your super nice clothes, and to transform any outfit as you see fit with your statement item. Just make sure that this item is something you know you'll wear frequently, and it'll pay for itself in no time.

Lesson #4: Wearing All One Color Isn't A Bad Thing

There's something about wearing a single color from head to toe that looks impossibly effortless and chic. On my first night in New York, it was pouring rain (another rare sight for this L.A. native), so I slipped on a pair of rain boots for the third time in my life.

This was a totally new look for me, and feeling a bit out of my comfort zone, I decided to pair them with all one color: black. I opted for black jeans, a black turtleneck, and black gloves. And you know what? It came together nicely, proving there's absolutely nothing wrong with a monochrome moment.

Lesson #5: Rekindle Your Love For Playing Dress Up

Sincerely Jules by Scünci Rhinestone Metal Comb ($9;

Rather than just throwing any clothes you find on in the morning, on this trip, I learned to find joy in drawing inspiration, adding accessories, planning a hairstyle — whatever gets you excited to build an outfit. If you know you secretly love getting dressed up, you might even consider planning outings where you know you'll have to.

Everyone's aware that NYC's fashion game is already out of this world, but a breakfast date at Tiffany's on Fifth Avenue motivated me to plan out an Audrey Hepburn-inspired outfit. I still don't know if it's the nostalgia of it or the fact that I felt like I was playing dress up as an adult, but this turned out to be one of my favorite looks from the entire trip. I felt like I was straight out of the movie, and it couldn't have made me feel fancier.

Lead Image: Jen Atkin x CALPAK Carry-On Luggage in Red ($285;