It is said that the US is a melting pot, and one place that is clearly apparent is in our style. On the streets, people express their histories, culture, opinions, and ideas through what they wear. Whether they’re dressing to impress or just for the weather, their style is as individual as the people themselves. Some areas of the country have become famous for their fashionable forms of self-expression; here are the US cities, large and small, with the best street style.
1. New York City, New York
Gritty, edgy and fast, New York is unquestionably the capital city of US high fashion. But those not into, or able to afford, haute couture look across the East River to progressive Brooklyn for realistic inspiration. In neighborhoods like Williamsburg, the glam of the city scene is shunned but its creativity is embraced. People here aren’t afraid to take chances with bold colors and shapes, untraditional silhouettes and gender-neutral styles, making almost anything wearable — for anyone.
2. Los Angeles, California
For a while, Los Angeles fashion ping-ponged between movie star couture and booty-enhancing yoga pants, but in recent years a bright, fresh and decidedly relaxed style has emerged. In the outlying neighborhoods of Fullerton and Corona, California fashion is about taking what’s old and making it new again by adding a modern twist. Here you’ll find casual thrift store clothes paired with designer finds, high-energy activewear, and a real fine pair of sneakers. LA street looks can certainly be fierce, but overall consider them coastal bohemian at its most refined.
3. Nashville, Tennessee
Big hair and sparkles may dominate the stages of Nashville’s country music scene, but its street style is decidedly more diverse: a little bit country, a little bit rock n’ roll, a little bit classy, a little bit hillbilly. In the neighborhoods of trendy East Nashville, tattoos are more plentiful than rhinestones and worn Stetsons replace the industry bling. It’s almost a country hippie vibe, with worn denim and flowing dresses as staples and well-worn boots bringing soul to the streets of this polished country city.
4. Atlanta, Georgia
The people of Atlanta know how to dress. Fashion is not an afterthought in this leafy city and neighborhoods such as Decatur and Inman Park boast a colorful, and decidedly un-traditional, fashion scene. Folks on the street aren’t afraid to take risks with going all out: edgy modern ensembles, full on “Southern prep” looks, or brilliant hip-hop excess.
5. San Francisco, California
San Francisco style ranges from sophisticated to straight-up bizarre but, in between, there’s a creative fashion sweet spot. From the new hippies of Lower Haight to the punk and funk of the Mission, the common denominator is comfort and function. San Francisco’s fashion-forward embrace common sense, but stylish, footwear for conquering the city’s multitude of hills and layers, for protecting against cool fog, are another standard. Other than these staples, anything goes in this progressive town making San Francisco a true free spirit of fashion.
6. Portland, Oregon
Portland is all that Portlandia made it out to be: unique, unconventional, weird. Outside of the city’s business core neighborhoods like Nob Hill and the Alphabet District are alive with a style born from grunge and grown in hipster. Small boutiques and indie designers abound offering fashions ranging from reserved minimalism to neo-grunge metrosexual. No matter the look, the most popular accessory on these streets is the (not necessarily furry) one at the end of a leash.
7. Miami, Florida
Miami has long had its own style thanks to its year-round tropical climate, bright cultural mix, and proliferation of pretty people. The soft sands of stylish South Beach have attracted a fashion-forward crowd for decades, from legends like Gianni Versace to more recent wunderkind such as Proenza Schouler, and major modeling agencies including Wilhelmina, Elite, and William Morris keep offices here. As a result, street style here is not demure and almost anything goes as long as it’s startling, sexy, and (looks) expensive.
8. Austin, Texas
The music, sunshine and (once) affordable cost of living have for years attracted creative types to Austin. Style on the streets of the South Congress neighborhood is a mix of laid-back Texas attitude with pops of the handmade and hand-crafted. Vintage cowboy shirts are as standard as cowboy hats with flowing dresses. Whatever the style it’s always as bright and unexpected as the city itself.
9. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Made famous by its un-fashionable depiction in Breaking Bad, Albuquerque sits smack in the middle of a region known internationally for its style. Inspired by indigenous Native American regalia, arts, and crafts, as well as traditional Mexican dress, “desert chic” has its own inimitable take in New Mexico. Street style in Nob Hill, near the University of New Mexico, reflects the regional taste for denim, wool, silver, and turquoise but adds flair with ‘wild west’ vintage finds, designer denim, worn leather, and the iconic high-desert staple: a damn fine hat.
10. Palm Springs, California
Its proximity to Los Angeles makes this desert hot spot an oasis of the unexpected when it comes to fashion. Palm Springs’ forever mid-century modern vibe is reflected on its streets, where gogo boots and A-line minis are de rigueur and psychedelic caftans waft around the ankles of ladies and gents alike. Vintage finds bring top dollar here but more modern twists on classic looks are also to be found in many of the town’s trendy boutiques. Think Mod meets Coachella; fashions on the streets of Palm Springs are always a bright surprise.