October 13th, 2016
Guest Post By L.A. Artist Kathy Leeds

Keeping it Chic – in L.A.

Inspiration images from ‘The English Patient’ and ‘Out of Africa’


I’m a Los Angeles native, and have lived here until I made a temporary move to New York City, while my daughter was in college on the east coast.  I loved my time there, and still visit often.  But I always knew I’d be moving back in LA, where I’m now happily and forever ensconced.

I wanted to retain some of the polish and nod to fashion that I felt I’d achieved in NY, while staying authentic to my roots and lifestyle – a thoroughly LA woman.  Comfortable, casual, modern, and like everyone, still a bit unique.

I was very flattered and surprised when Preston asked me to write a guest post on LA style.  I’ve never thought of myself as particularly fashionable, but I do have a “look”.  I’d describe it as essentially West Coast and a bit tomboy in its origins, but I think it works just about anywhere now.  However, in LA you can wear it at night to any restaurant or dinner party, with a just a few tweaks to make it more “evening”.

In my admittedly ubiquitous uniform of jeans, tees, lightweight sweaters, boots and a bag, each Fall/Winter I make a few adjustments, that hopefully helps set me a bit apart.  I buy and edit, paying attention to details and trends such as silhouettes, and proportions. I think this keeps my uniform both current and modern.

For a few seasons, I’ve been on the lookout for a special bag, a sort of signature piece and one that I wouldn’t see coming and going.  I finally found the one while in Italy this summer on vacation.  A bag makes a big statement in LA.

I do want to thank Preston, because her “Will I grab it from my closet?” has been the sentence that guides me in every single purchase I’ve made since I started following her blog, and the truer I stay to that question, the fewer mistakes I’ve made.  I’ve always gravitated to neutrals, and minimalism in my clothing, so I stick to that.  I also love to support designers from Southern California and buy as much as I can from Jenni Kayne, Kendall Conrad, and James Perse.  My shopping mall is the Brentwood Country Mart, which I can walk or bike to, and has all three shops.  Pippa Small has a shop there, too.

I’d love to share some of the updates I’ve bought in anticipation of our fall and winter.  Boots have always been the first thing that I (and most of my friends) get excited about.  I think it’s because we have so few items that are generally considered winter wear, we definitely don’t get as excited about sandals!

Updates for this season….

Boots –  Black Jenni Kayne Chelsea Boot for night, Cognac Jenni Kayne field boots for day.

Jeans – I refresh this item more than any other in my closet.  I will spend $300 on a great pair because it’s the anchor of my wardrobe and worn more than 300 days of the year.  Cost per wear is one of my guidelines in buying.  This year I wanted some in a darker rinse, a pair of straight leg, and a cropped black pair with a bit of a flair to wear at night with my new boots.

Tee shirts – mine get dirty, and stretched out.  I like to keep them new and fresh, otherwise casual goes quickly to sloppy.  I wear white and heather gray most often,  crew and v-neck, short and long sleeved– usually James Perse.

Sweaters  – I bought a few sleeker ribbed pullovers this year, and a very lightweight long cardigan that I will live in – day and night.   And when I don’t have time to change from yoga clothes, I’ll throw it on to cover me up while I run errands.

Blouses – to pair with jeans for evenings out. These from Nili Lotan replaced my Equipment silk shirts which felt tired and dated to me.

Bag – I’ve wanted this bucket bag for a few years, and finally ordered it when I was in Italy this summer.  It’s the most beautiful leather and rich shade of cognac, with a hidden monogram inside.  It feels very unique and a fantastic reminder of our summer vacation.  Saddlers Union, Rome.

Small “evening” bagKendall Conrad – small black suede – this and my Jenni Kayne boots will be enough to change my day look into evening.

* When I do travel back to NY, I add both a black and a navy blue blazer to keep my very dressy and fashionable mother- in- law from fainting.

Collage items top: Chloé scarfJ. Crew jeans, Jenni Kayne boots, Nili Lotan blouse, Saddlers Union bag. Bottom: Nili Lotan blouse, Jenni Kayne cardigan, Jenni Kayne boots, Kendall Conrad bag, Joseph shoes.


what's new




Leather jacket


Cropped corduroy pants


Able boot




Embroidered bag


Shearling-lined boots




Mini tote


Sweater dress





view all

  • I love this post! I moved from NYC to southern CA and it took me a few years to figure out how to dress appropriately. Happily, I’ve concluded much the same and I’ve gotten a few new tips today. Thank you!

    LFROctober 13th, 2016  9:38 AM

  • I really want to thank Preston for not only inviting me to write this guest post, but for being my guiding light in fashion over the last few years….without which I’d have been in no position to do this.

    I’ve learned so much about looking at details, waiting until exactly the right thing comes along before buying…and of course, my closet mantra “Will I Grab It?”

    Thanks P – you’re the best!

    KathyOctober 13th, 2016  10:14 AM

  • Kathy, thank you so much for sharing your style with us. I love your attitude to dressing and all of the pieces selected are perfect. This is the way we really dress!

    SusanOctober 13th, 2016  10:18 AM

  • What a wonderful post from the west coast. You and Preston both inspire me fashion wise and in daily living. I don’t know how I ever missed the “Will I Grab It?” mantra, but this afternoon I am going back to my closet to clean. Your picks are fabulous – just like the both of you! Thank you for sharing your California style.

    MaryBOctober 13th, 2016  10:42 AM

  • This is such a great example of California’s understated, practical elegance. No need to shout, it’s all in the details. I love that bucket bag, on 70s trend, Tom Ford would love it if he did anything casual ever. And the Nili Lotan shirt too. Excellent.

    LisaOctober 13th, 2016  10:47 AM

  • Kathy, you’ve nailed it. Love those Nili Lotan blouses and the bucket bag especially.

    Susan B. (unefemme.net)October 13th, 2016  10:49 AM

  • you nailed it kathy! loved your take on west coast style! from the day i met you many many years ago i always thought you were the one who had such a great sense of style . casual yes, but always chic and elegant! always true to who you are and never pretending to be something you are not. nothing has changed! loved all post and all your pics!

    sallyOctober 13th, 2016  10:56 AM

  • Great post Kathy! These are perfectly edited basics that sum up the essence of everyday dressing in so Cal. I love how cognac anchors many of the looks. It has currently replaced black for me and feels fresh. Like you said, it’s the little tweaks that make the difference. Thanks Preston for sharing a west coast perspective, specifically Kathy’s LA style.

    Karima | A Note On StyleOctober 13th, 2016  11:03 AM

  • Loved this post! I apparently live within a couple miles of you, so this one resonated with me. I like that you have figured out what works, and how to keep it modern. And the bucket bag is great!

    SusanOctober 13th, 2016  11:12 AM

  • I love this! I live in Northern Florida and wear many of the same pieces. Just yesterday Th English Patient was on one of the movie channels and i just happened to catch the scene where Kristin Scott Thomas was wearing that aviator jacket. It looks as fabulous today as it did then!

    JenniferOctober 13th, 2016  12:14 PM

  • What a great post! Dressing in LA is tricky business and these tips really nail it. So glad it is fall so I can use the sweater to jazz up my yoga pants! My favorite LA look by far.

    MarisaOctober 13th, 2016  1:06 PM

  • Psst….link to the jeans is broken. Wonderful picks, Kathy!

    C.MicholOctober 13th, 2016  2:39 PM

  • As a Brit: Kathy’s style would work well here in county towns or cities,with a few extra layers to allow for our fickle weather!
    Love the shoes,NAP has sold out of my size!! Kathy always looks so natural,comfortable and oozes confidence and style.

    Ottoline MorrellOctober 13th, 2016  2:54 PM

  • Very interesting post! I moved back to Los Angeles last year after many years in Northern California. I love the style in L.A. and this article is a wonderful encapsulation of it. Thanks for sharing.

    JennyOctober 13th, 2016  3:09 PM

  • Your dressy and fashionable (thanks for the compliment) mother-in-law thinks that was a well written commentary that precisely describes your style

    Isabelle LeedsOctober 13th, 2016  6:05 PM

  • I’m most interested in how you managed to move to the east coast to be near your college aged child. Mine just moved to NC and I would so love to be to closer to him. Good for you to put family first as you were able!

    Tori MordecaiOctober 13th, 2016  9:15 PM

  • @Tori ~ good question. She was going to college in Rhode Island, and my stepson was going to college in Virginia. My husband’s family lives in NYC and I’d always wanted to live there, and so my husband and I decided it was the right time to give it a try. It was a good compromise, because neither would have been happy if we had actually moved to their college towns! But being on the same coast, allowed us to see them on weekends, and have them to NY for the weekend, which was a wonderful thing. We did keep our home in LA, and we’d all go back there for the summer. Our kids and grandkids are the most important thing to both of us, and yes, #familyfirst! Is your son in NC for good? I’d move to Asheville if I were you!

    KathyOctober 13th, 2016  9:55 PM

  • What a treat it was to read Kathy’s post. I saw her today – she looked fresh, stylish, simple, the perfect Californian look. Someone commented that she is so comfortable in her own skin, so true. She has always been true to herself, even when she was in her clog shoes phase, being a Brazilian, I strongly disapproved, but on her it looked so cool. She is an icon, and an inspiration, as a friend, mother, grandmother, wife and artist, also a great cook! Loved the ivory blouse!

    ElianaOctober 14th, 2016  1:08 AM

  • This post is just one of the reasons I love KiC…even though I have nothing materially in common with Kathy or her lifestyle I appreciate her aesthetic and her desire to be true to herself in her clothing. We all want to be comfortable in our skin and fashion helps us be ourselves.
    Thanks ladies.

    SueMOctober 14th, 2016  10:22 AM

  • Oh this is fab, love a nose in somebody’s closet and those boots and Nili Lotan blouses are divine. I have what I call the ‘reach factor’ which is the same thing; can I see myself reaching for it first thing in the morning in a hurry! I feel in need of a wardrobe purge now as well…

    DisneyrollergirlOctober 16th, 2016  11:03 AM


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