Do you dread packing for a place you’ve never been before? Are you never sure what to wear to what event? You are not alone. That’s why we brought in local fashion blogger Evin Elizabeth to debunk the myths and demonstrate the tips to get you ready for NVFF16. Learn how to blend in with the locals, stand out on the red carpet and always be #FestDressed.
Moving to Napa from Texas three years ago, I knew all about the subcategories of the fashion world. Cocktail attire: dress and heels. Business: Classic pumps, trousers and a blazer. Business casual: Pencil skirt, pumps, no jacket necessary. It made sense, and it made getting dressed for events, meetings and parties a breeze. I thought I knew…
But by simply packing my boxes and moving halfway across the country, I stumbled into a whole new phenomenon: a new category created by the people of the Napa Valley, for the people of the Napa Valley. The first time I heard someone say “Oh it’s Napa Casual” I was beyond confused. What is this “Napa Casual” the locals speak of? Why is that a thing? Isn’t casual…well, casual?
I’ve been in the Valley for three years now and let me tell you, this Napa Casual craze is indeed a thing and locals can pick out a tourist in seconds based on their lack of understanding of this laid back, yet classic look.
The first time I heard someone say “Oh it’s Napa Casual” I was beyond confused. What is this “Napa Casual” the locals speak of? Why is that a thing? Isn’t casual…well, casual?
Let me explain: I’m writing this article sitting in a popular downtown burger place, Gott’s Roadside, late on a weeknight. It’s a time when I knew there wouldn’t be too many tourists, a time when I can investigate the locals in their natural habitat and do what I do best — examine what everyone is wearing. I count 6 men in leather flip-flops, 13 plaid tops (ranging from short sleeve button ups to long sleeve summer flannels), and more denim than I can count including jeans, chambray shirts, and jackets. It might sound a little thrown together, but everyone somehow manages to look polished in a laidback, classically comfortable way.
So let’s break this down a little more: Napa Casual is the art of wearing something comfortable and easy, while also pairing it with something more classic. Unless you’re going to an event that specifies a more formal dress code, there are very few places in the valley where jeans aren’t acceptable.
So if you’re planning a trip to Napa and need a little help packing your bags, here’s what you’ll need:
For the Guys:
Every good Napa casual outfit starts with a pair of khaki shorts. A classic cut, with no cargo pockets (that’s not a Napa rule, just one you should follow always). These khakis can be worn in a multitude of colors, but they are your foundation piece. Now pick a shirt – something with a collar – and make sure you have a belt. Going somewhere casual? You can totally rock your leather flip-flops, but the most popular choice is a classic pair of Sperry’s. Don’t ask me why, because we’re hours from the closest marina, yet the yachting footwear is strong with this crowd.
In the colder months, turn in your shorts for khaki pants or dark jeans. Top off your plaid flannel shirt with a puffer vest or anything from Patagonia. And just a pro-tip: always have a fleece in your car because the temperatures can drop F. A. S. T.
For the Ladies:
Try starting with denim. Pair your favorite chambray shirt with a floral skirt, or try a denim dress with a gauze scarf and carryall tote for wandering around town. Don’t forget that skinny jeans, a striped top and a blazer always work for something a little dressier like dinner.
For footwear, it’s all about cute comfort. I love wearing heels, but after attending an industry lunch last week and being the only woman in wedges, I finally accepted that unless you’re at a black tie event, flats are queen. So rock your espadrilles, step into your sandals and buy some new ballet flats. To stay warm in the winter, booties with a stack heel or riding boots are always a safe bet.
Accessorize with minimal pieces or stick to one statement piece. Coco Chanel once said to take one piece off before walking out the door, but in the valley it might be smart to take off two pieces.
If you compare it to other regional styles, Napa Valley casual is a laid-back version of east coast prep, the southern charm without the big hair and pearls – it’s a J. Crew catalog in an outdoors store.
You always have to look your best, but also be able to maneuver around a wine cellar and go to a Michelin-starred restaurant immediately after. The people of the Napa Valley live very diverse and glamorous, yet down-to-earth lifestyles, and that’s what Napa Casual is all about.
Make sure you check out Magnolias and Sunlight for a few Napa Valley casual outfit ideas!