What I Wore: the West 49 challenge

Remember the days when being a skate kid was cool? Then you probably also remember when Avril Lavigne came rolling along and ruined the entire culture for everyone. Luckily, after enduring way too many years of the white tank top and black tie combo, it seems that the Avril effect has finally phased out.

Even mega skate chains, such as West 49, have switched back to their bohemian roots to catch up with their trendy teen clientele. Thanks to the Internet (and all the social media outlets that come with it) the style of our younger generation is maturing, and evolving, faster than ever. Thankfully, the latest slew of cool role models include girls like Vanessa Hudgens, Kristen Stewart and Emma Roberts, who appear less in the tabloids stumbling out of blacked-out SUVs and more at hot-spots of cool, such as Coachella.

This has resulted in an overall positive effect in terms of style, for both teens and the retailer. I’ve openly written about my past as a “skater girl” and my undying dream of one day becoming a professional surfer who lives in L.A. (even though I’ve never surfed in my life). Another important style motto of mine (which may or may not have come across so far) is that I. Will. Shop. Anywhere.

So when West 49 called to tell me about their new, revamped girl’s collection, they challenged me to check it out and see if I could style myself in a Gracie Carroll-ified outfit (that I would actually wear). If I would shop from Wang to Wal-Mart, why not West 49 too?

Upon arrival, there is no doubt that West 49’s Avril girl is long gone. In her place is a cool, beachy girl-next-door. It is clear that everyone from the staff to the customers is ecstatic about the change.

And why wouldn’t they be? Even I find myself getting giddy over the super-cute floral printed rompers from Billabong that retail for a mere $44. A frill-hem and a cut-out back? Yes please! What better item to wear while frolicking on the beach, pretending to take a rest from my hardcore surf session earlier that morning?

It isn’t often that you’ll catch me without an extra layering piece stashed in my bag during the spring and summer months (hey, it gets cold at night!), which is why I fell in love with Element’s printed Eva tunic at a reasonable $50. Rocking print-on-print has become a bit of a signature for me, and I love how these two pieces work together as much as I love each one separately.

This is an ideal summer outfit because I can see myself wearing it everywhere, from the park to the cottage to the beach. The white cat-eye sunglasses also give the overall look a splash of ’90s that, combined with the surfy-babe look, really captures my ideal me quite well.

What I Wore: floral playsuit by Billabong $44 at West 49, Eva tunic by Element $50 at West 49, sunglasses from Buffalo Exchange in Brooklyn, shoes by Cacharel, puppy from a friend.

Grace Carroll is a Toronto-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in ELLE UK, ELLEcanada.com, Plaid magazine and FILLER magazine. Keep up with her daily blog at www.graciecarroll.com.

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