East Coast versus West Coast: a clash of culture?

by Andrea Miller

People from the East Coast say “wicked” and “straight” and people from the West Coast say “hella” and “tight.” This, given, is probably better known than one’s own social security number.

The differences are endless: or so it seems. In talking with two Whitman juniors, it became obvious that examples of said differences are skewed by financial standings. The notion of the East Coast as a breeding ground of all things prep has generated a stigma of wealthy, private school kids popping the collars of their pink polo shirts and tearing through their well-kept suburbs in a BMW X5. According to Adriana Piazza and Hayley Hillman, Whitman juniors, that is a fair description: but definitely not binding.

Both Piazza and Hillman have lived on each coast. Hillman, a native to Olympia, Wash., attended a private boarding school in Deerfield, Mass. Deerfield exposed Hillman to the upper echelons of New England and American society. Hillman said, “Everyone read the fashion magazines, so everyone knew how their clothes compared in price to everyone else’s.” Oft donned by her peers were the styles of Banana Republic, J. Crew, Lacoste and the iconic Gross Grain Ribbon belts.

Piazza attended an all-girls private high school in Wash., D.C. before moving to Seattle and attending Whitman. Despite the school’s mandatory uniform, girls expressed themselves through their Burberry headbands and Tiffany’s heart toggle bracelets. Of the heart bracelet, Piazza said, “Everyone and their mom had one of those things.”

True to his coast, Dave Matthews Band dominated the airwaves during Hillman’s time in Mass. Much to her chagrin, Hillman said, “No one listened to country, and there were no country music stations.” Piazza found her niche in the world of music.

She said, “There is hipster music from New York and a huge indie scene.” Though Portland, Seattle and lots of California cities are renowned for the music they put out, Piazza confirmed that there is “definitely a music scene,” not limited to Dave Matthews.

The West Coast has an appeal because of what Piazza called being “more laid back.” This “laid back” quality may be attributed to the less densely populated areas, the scenery or the separation from the treading grounds of America’s fore fathers.

Hillman said, “The West Coast changes.” Trends have a short shelf life, whereas in the East, a pearl necklace or a pair of smart loafers do not go out of style. The trends of the East’s renowned prep schools are not indicative of the area as a whole: there are always outliers and exceptions.