the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Fall Fashion

My new Los Angeles blogging pal, Sanora, at Bad Maria has a problem.  Her husband and she have been invited to a catered BBQ on Sunday, and the invitation says "California Casual attire."   She’s a pretty down-to-earth gal, and is worried about what that means. 

Does anyone know what "California" casual means? Is it one step up from casual or since we all wear jeans for the most part, one step down? I’m very confused by the term and if they were closer friends, I would call them up and say "what would be appropriate attire for this little catered BBQ soiree?" But I want to appear like hubby and I are down with all the frou-frou terminology and can show up, correctly attired, when invited.

Can anyone from California give her some advice?

I offered her some help, but she rejected me, saying I was too "trendy" for her.   The truth is I’m a real trendsetter when it comes to fashion, always wearing the latest Fall fashion that I see at New York’s Fashion Week. 

In fact, Sophia and I will be attending the same BBQ as Sanora, and we already bought some new hip clothes for the event.  We each bought two outfits.  Any advice on which is better for an outdoor BBQ?







By the way, on my second outfit, I’m not sure about that chain hanging from the pocket.  What do you think?   Also,  can anyone recommend a good bikini wax place near West Hollywood?

Thanks for all your help!

(photos via Rachel, Jennifer, and Elisa)


  1. lizriz

    Without commenting on those very scary pics…

    My suggestion would be a broom skirt with a nice flimsy top and cute sandals or those nice flip-flops. I GUARANTEE other women will be dressed like that. Personally, I would NOT go for jeans, although you could go cotton or linen capris.

    For your guy, nice casual pants and top (read: Dockers and a light button down, maybe even Tommy Bahama-esque) are always a good call. Could go nice sandals if you have the feet to carry it off and feel daring, or just go for like loafers.

  2. miss marisol

    Well, it would be absolutely inappropriate for Sophia to wear Outfit #1. That is so obviously what one would wear to church. Sheesh. Silly.

  3. Tuck

    I vote for the men’s palm tree look. You go, boy!

  4. Edgy Mama

    I like the chain, Neil. It’s so…you.

    As a hippie chick living in Asheville, I have no clue what California casual means. Sorry to be of absolutely no help. Again.

  5. brando

    California Casual means avocado and crab meat. It’s faux casual.

  6. Leese

    Black top and jeans.

  7. anonymous city girl

    First… I am thanking whatever the power out that is that I am on the east coast.

    A waxer Neil? Apparently the trends include nipples and pubes.

    And I’m having a flashback… I once dated a guy that looks just like the guy in your first outfit and maybe thats the one that gets my vote for you to wear.

  8. M.A.

    Good lord. Dolce and Gabbana leave nothing to the imagination, do they? Why even bother with clothes at this point?

    The boys might as well be wearing leg warmers and nothing else… haha!

  9. bella

    Just be sure to put sunscreen on… burned nips ain’t so fun…. it would kill the mood.

  10. Bama Girl

    I wish I had read your post before I went to a party tonight. The invitation also read, “California Casual” which I translated as uber casual b/c Cali seems pretty laid back to me. Well, the ladies at my shindig were not casual. They were all wearing nice slacks or skirts. I guess it means wear your cutest outfit that’s not a formal. I don’t know. I would think a barbeque would have to be pretty laid back.

    I love the dolce and gabbana pubic hair shots. Now, that’s classy! The woman in the first picture made me feel pretty darn good about my breasts.

  11. Anne-Marie

    just make sure they are flame resistant and tell Sophia to leave off the skirt – so last season

  12. danielle

    Does dress #2 come in different nipple sizes?

  13. Dan

    Being from NY, I feel uniquely qualified to help. My guess would be that “California casual” incorporates lettuce and pretentious uncooked meats. Run with that…

  14. mysterygirl!

    Yeah, like ACG said, you definitely cannot get waxed. Pubes are this fall’s hottest accessory.

    I vote D&G leather. If you’re gonna go low rise, go all the way with it. Plus I think the denim is too “cazh,” or however you would spell the slang for casual.

  15. Jack

    I have lived in California for 36 years and I still don’t know what the hell terms like California Casual mean. I am all for comfort, shorts and a cool shirt work well together.

  16. Neil

    Just for the hell of it, I experimented with putting my jeans on like that — without a belt — just like the guy in the photo. How do they walk around without the pants just falling down over the ankles? Wouldn’t that be embarrassing to happen in the middle of the BBQ?

    Men, try it at home or in the office and see for yourself.

    Now I understand some of the travails you women have to endure when wearing the latest fashions.

  17. Jay

    Hmm, I think that wide belts are just not very manly. Sorry.

    Also, if the occasion warrants an actual invitation with printed words indicating a dress code of any kind, IT AINT THAT CASUAL.

  18. Bad Maria

    Silly Neil – the BBQ was last Sunday, my post was written Saturday morning (late, I know, but I had just read the invitation carefully to check on address, etc.) I didn’t reject what you said, silly boy, I rejected that it was a day late and a dollar short! You may be right up to date on your fashions but you’re behind the times in reading my blog.

    Your idea for what I should have worn was actually quite close to what we did end up wearing – gee wish I had seen these pictures before choosing the outfit though.

    For any who are curious, I ended up wearing crop white hip hugger pants, black camisoille (sp?) with white lace along neckline and Camper tie at the ankle sandals (with 2 1/2 inch heel). Of course, I describe this on my blog in response to Neil…

    Oh, and everyone was dressed similarly except the hostess who was in western wear complete with turquoise and a little cowboy hat.

  19. ms. sizzle

    i’d go for number two for sophia, less likely to show dripped bbq sauce, if by chance there is a spill. and i’d stick with #1 for you. . .you don’t really want a clarence thomas episode with that second one. pubes and bbq just don’t go together. ewww.

    california casual says to me: not grungy jeans and tee’s, more like casual skirt and top, khakis and nicer t-shirt or relaxed button up.

    but what do i know, i live in the land of no style, aka Santa Cruz. people wearing clothes or a bra would be a step up. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. Neil

    Bad Maria, it sounds like you looked great, as always. Did the husband go pube-full or pube-less this time? I’m never sure anymore, especially with Hollywood “award season” coming up. Melissa Rivers can be so cruel when you show up on the red carpet with the wrong outfit on.

  21. meme

    those outfits are so 2004.

    i say, go with m.a.’s idea…legwarmers, but just to give it that cali flair add an OP terry headband.

  22. Bad Maria

    HA! he went with #1 because as Ms. Sizzle says – BBQ and pube’s eeeewwww

  23. amanda

    neil, that second outfit looks painful. where does “it” go?

  24. Bill

    I’ve never understood the attraction of wearing pants that keep falling down but I’ve never been known for my fashion sense. What strikes me about that “homeless male model who can’t keep his pants up” look is the guys, while presumeably looking sexy, look to be about as interested in sex as they are in intense dental work.

    What is it about the fashion world that they like guys who have never been horny in their lives? Do male models get their scrotums tattooed with “Batteries not included?” Is their a problem with hydraulics?

    Why do these people never look aroused? Too distracted trying to keep their pants up?

    (And do women really like the smouldering castrate look?)

  25. PLD

    how in heavenรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs name are you keeping those jeans on your hips??

  26. jenny

    i think you should go for the very first one…is yellow a good color for you?

  27. Neil

    Does anyone else find it odd that the guys in these photos don’t have one hair anywhere on their chest, arms, or shoulders, but they have bushy pubes jumping from their pants?

    Is it possible that they are using pubic hair toupees?

  28. Modigli

    Holy crap!
    YOu got me — The pubes actually shocked me. That must be an ad from France or something, huh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. Modigli

    PS. I think California Casual means you don’t iron the clothes first. … BUt what do I know? I’m from Cleveland!

  30. Modigli

    PS again:
    Everytime I come back and look at that photo, there is this illusion that you can ACTUALLY see a penis. The stitching on that D&G guy in the front looks like he’s got it dangling out, doesn’t it? I wonder if they PLANNED that. Probably.

    Anyone else see what I’m seeing? Or am I like a wanderer in the desert? hehehe…

  31. Jack

    cleveland- do people actually admit to being from there.

  32. Stacey

    I freely admit that I am from Cleveland.

    Modigli, so glad there’s another Clevelander here.

  33. Modigli

    YES! Thankyou! … Me and Stacey are sticking together!

    Jack, have you ever been over here to Cleveland? … And where are you from? Probably somewhere way way cooler than Cleveland, huh? Still, you don’t have me OR Stacey over there… so THERE! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  34. Modigli

    BTW, I’m serious about the penis illusion. Anybody see what I’m seeing in that photo???

  35. Neil

    Mo — I sure do — definitely intentional. I know I ironed on a decal in that spot on my pants reading “The only good Bush is this Bush!” just in case no one noticed my new pants.

    And since you seem to be a little obsessing over it, Mo, may I suggest a weekend away with that new boyfriend of yours. I think it’s about time to find out if Cleveland really Rocks.

    I’m still more curious on whether those guys groom their own “gardens” or hire professionals. Maybe I’ll ask the stylist Marie in my local “Supercuts” the next time I go there.

  36. Modigli

    Ha ha, Neil! You HAVE to post a picture of yourself in THOSE pants! All your readers want to see THAT! ๐Ÿ™‚ And I think the “official” word is “MANscaping” for that work in the “garden” you talked about.

    Funny you should mention a weekend away… I just posted on my blog about an upcoming meeting! And, coincidentally, this one will take place in Cleveland.

    Cleveland Rocks, alright!

  37. Stacey

    Yes, Modigli and I are sticking together. And no, Jack has admittedly never been to Cleveland….so he has no clue.

    Mo, I do think I see the outline of a penis.

    Your name sounds Italian. I grew up near Little Italy. Corbo’s and Mama Santa’s. Yum!!

  38. Jack

    Probably somewhere way way cooler than Cleveland, huh

    That describes everywhere, Akron, Toledo, Buffalo etc.


    I KNOW THIS. Try Easy Glam. Hello!!! It’s California. Anything that’s great but worn casually is California Casual.

    You can wear a Versace gown, but as long as it’s worn casually it’s “California casual”. $300 gold flip flops, or whatever floats your boat. Cali is home of the rock stars… Go to Newport Beach and Laguna Beach adn shop there. You will know what Cali casual is. It’s always been here, someone just coined it with a name.
    In my opinion, this is the best part about the culture. Cali does have it’s own style, freestyle. Creativity and openness to new things is something I’ve always loved about Californians, of course it’s influenced by Hollywood.

    It’s a life-style, not a brand or a “dress code”. Sheesh. I bet the hosts probably don’t know this either.

  40. Cat32204

    From one native Californian to the newbie Californians: California casual denotes comfortable attire made of organic or natural fibers and worn to look as if it has just been casually thrown together. It is actually a studied or acquired air of casual elegance. Apparel made from silk, linen, cotton, bamboo, etc. and shoes made of leather or other natural, organic fibers are all good.
    One cannot miss with the basics: a silk shirt for the gentlemen, silk, linen or tropical weight wool/flannel (in winter) trousers and a pair of good loafers worn without socks unless you are going to the beach then sandals are appropriate. Depending on the occasion or the season, one might wish to throw on a silk, linen or tropical-weight wool blazer. For the ladies all silk, linen or cotton slacks, skirts, dresses or sundresses. Sandals or slingbacks are pretty much always in fashion for the ladies. Note: unless you are a slob or under 21, do not mistake flip-flops for fashionable footwear to a Cali casual party unless it is specifically designated as a beach or pool party.

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