San Francisco is beautiful.
People come here from all over the world, every day of the year, to marvel at our City by the Bay. Everywhere you turn you'll find views, ornate Victorians, delicious and photogenic food, and scenes straight out of a movie. But, our postcard perfect, Instagram-ready City can also be wild, free and unpredictable in its own right.
The weather, for one thing, can change at a moment's notice, and you're pretty much required to bring an extra layer with you wherever you go. Heading to Dolores on an 80 degree day? Better grab that jacket just in case.
For me, picking out an outfit can be a painful experience. I've lived here for eight years, and occasionally I still have what my boyfriend has dubbed an Outfit Crisis. In other places, a summer dress and denim jacket are perfect on a July afternoon and can take you from day to night with ease, but in The City be prepared to freeze. The City gets criticized for being a normcore stronghold, unfashionable, and shamelessly #basic. The fashion Meccas of the world love pointing to our down jackets, puffy vests, fleece layers, jeans and flats, and laughing. They think that we should suck it up an actually rock those four-inch heels and a cute skirt. But they don't seem to get that the Struggle is actually Real here.
Normally, an Outfit Crisis goes like this: It's morning, I'm sipping on my Blue Bottle, fresh-faced, ready to start my day. I check the weather app on my phone, then I check the local SF weather app. Then I try to decide how much I think the weather will change throughout the day. Weekdays, all that really matters is the weather to and from work. Since I walk, making a realistic jacket and shoe choices are key. Simple, right? Except, no. It's not. Next thing you know I'm running late, and I'm stressed before they day has even really begun.
Basically what happens while I'm trying to get ready is the amount of variables for the day, i.e. where we're going, what we're doing, how we're getting there, will it be sunny or cold, how long will we be there, who else is going, how far do I have to walk, completely overwhelm my adult decision making skills. Are we walking? Driving? Uber/Lyfting? MUNI? UGH. What should be simple, like picking out a pair of shoes to wear, can become impossible. If we're walking out go the new flats that give me blisters, out go the cute booties with the three-inch heel, and out go anything else that might hurt my feet because who knows when a stroll to the Ferry Building will turn into a 12 hour excursion on the Embarcadero complete with multiple meals and bar stops? One wrong choice could mean blistered feet, shivering, sweating or accidentally flashing the majority of Downtown San Francisco as the wind gusts.
I figure there's no way I'm the only one that faces this level of indecision everyday. I'll also go so far as to say that I wish someone would have just told me some of the basics for dressing in SF. So, here goes. Below you'll find five tips for dressing in The City, and some recommendations.
Just assume you'll be wearing them all day. With a good amount of walking some of which will be up and/or down various steep hills. They have to be comfortable. See above. Take note of hills. There are lots, and you never know when you'll have to huff it up one. If you shoes aren't comfortable donate or sell lightly used pairs, and trash the rest. If you can rock heels all day without an issue--go for it! If you have a pair of flats that just cut your feet up--THROW THEM AWAY. You'll never actually wear them enough to change that.
This isn't New York. It does not snow here. Sure, there are winter days that feel freezing, but they aren't literally freezing. A collapsible down jacket, a leather jacket and a classic trench will get you through most of the year. You also don't have to worry about packing away your winter clothes--you'll find a jacket is just as useful in July as it is in January. Throw in a peacoat if you really want to, but I find they can make you sweaty pretty quick when you're walking, and are kind of a pain to carry around if the weather warms up. Lately my puffer vest has been the perfect amount of warm, and it was even warm enough for an outdoor evening movie in Dolores Park.
Your'e either a scarf person, or you're not. If you are, throw one in your purse and keep it there. They're great when the wind picks up in the evening, or if you feel your skin starting to burn in the afternoon. If you're not a scarf person, it won't make a difference. I never wear them, and if I do I tend to lose them.
Always layer. There are maybe five days out of the year where you don't need to layer, and be ready to embrace them! For the other 360 days, layer. You'll be happier and more comfortable for it.
5. Embrace It
Remember--San Francisco is the land of acceptance. If you're comfortable that's all that matters. The City really is Neverland. You'll see people in beautiful, strange costumes every day of the week. Sequins, leather and neon are welcome here. You'll find yourself marveling at the joyous and the strange. In the end, if you feel good in it, rock it. Don't forget people come here to find themselves, and that means finding your personal style, even if it's basic.