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The Simple Life, Los Angeles

Mary Peffer

My fashion career in New York began in wholesale, working for Nanette Lepore, then Veda and YaYa. My last gig in digital press and advertising was at Saint Laurent, a place I called home for nearly seven years. It was the envy of my peers. (I say it because I wasn’t exactly the envy, but rather my role in the upper echelons of the fashion industry and New York — specifically the lifestyle and wardrobe that go along with that sort of thing.) Ridiculous luck, opportunity, hard work, and blind faith by mentors changed my lifestyle. Traveling for weeks at a time, sitting in on private dress rehearsals during Paris Fashion Week, befriending iconic creatives — it was surreal. A time I treasure.

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The author in Washington Square Park in New York City

New York allowed me to do exactly what I set out to do, but ultimately, it was not all that I felt I was meant to DO, BE and LIVE. Of course I still adore it, and I don’t really buy it when fellow NYC-to-L.A. transplants claim they do not. The energy, the people, the anonymity, and the drive is undeniable (which is not to say these traits do not exist in L.A., they’re just peppered in differently). But there were things clearly more conducive to L.A. living that I wanted to try my hand at. Some swirled around my head abstractly and others were a little more obvious: focus on my writing, be my own boss, kick butt at pilates, meditate, eat clean, drink less, do right by the earth, be able to rock denim literally to any business meeting, and the biggie — spend time with family. By this point, they had mostly headed out west. These are all priorities that only the delusionally self-involved would consider chucking a coveted career, financial security, and Soho apartment to attain, right? Wrong. Enter my trip to Israel. It was in Tel Aviv where I was introduced to people gracefully balancing pleasure, gratitude, and family with their entrepreneurial passions. I knew that it was time I followed suit and listened to my inner dialogue, which in my case chanted, ”move to L.A”. I would set out to fully integrate on the west coast for the first time, branch out on my own creatively and try out this Zen California lifestyle people go on about. Even if failure resulted immediately, at least I would know I had tried.

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The author celebrating Christmas Eve with friends in the Hollywood Hills

One year has passed, and I live on the East side of L.A. in an area called Echo Park. I co-founded Navy PR with my sister-in-law Melinda, where I act as digital strategist to designers, stylists, and artists, and I head-up our new series of pop-up shops in emerging U.S. markets under the name Navy PRoject. I also invest time in my writing, something I’ve found to be a therapeutic exercise during my transition and which I intend to make a permanent part of my journey. It is true when people say life in L.A. moves a bit slower, and I admit I catch myself embracing things here I used to judge, like affirmations, nail art, showing teeth in photographs, wearing patterns, and saying things like “my journey”. There’s this amazing cameo in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, when Jeff Goldblum’s character is talking on the phone at an L.A. industry party and says, “I forgot my mantra”. It’s nice to reside in a city where it’s cool to have a mantra, even if folks occasionally forget them.

LA’s 10 Essentials

1. A leather jacket. A cool girl staple on any coast. Plus, it gets cold at night in LA, and air conditioning…

2. A basic white t-shirt. Obviously you need this anywhere but I’ve made it a headliner in recent months since you can wear it year-round.

3. A slick hybrid. I arrived thinking ‘I NEED THAT WHITE JEEP FROM CLUELESS’ and ended up buying a Prius. I fill up once a month and don’t feel like I’m bullying the Earth.

4. Anything with suede fringe. Because it looks great in the desert.

5. Awesome sneakers. Even dates can take place on hikes here. It pays to be prepared.

6. A colorful sun dress. I am crushing hard on color, specifically red polka dot minis with suede boots.

7. A killer pair of jeans. You can basically wear denim everywhere. I love my growing collection of vintage Levi’s.

8. An excellent hat. The sun is almost always out. A hat cools you off and covers wonky workout hair.

9. An emergency swimsuit. Most places have a pool. It’s convenient to have a spare stashed in the car.

10. Always take Fountain. Listen to Bette Davis on this one.

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