It doesn't feel like all that long ago I decamped from Oakland and moved into my first windowless little apartment in NYC. Now, I find myself flying back to the Bay Area a few times a year, and each time I touch down, I find myself thinking about the difference in how I dress from coast to coast. What to wear in San Francisco is decidedly different from what works in New York. Below I'm doing my best to break it down.
The first thing that sets San Francisco apart is the weather. While it's not as cold as NYC, the temperature has much more variation throughout the day. This means that there's no way I'd wear a minidress or shorts and a tee all on their own. Instead, layering is key, and having a sweater or jacket handy makes all the difference. Another difference I've noticed is that West Coasters tend to dress a bit more relaxed. Maybe it's in part thanks to the differing industries and office dress codes, but the times I've worn my fancier workwear in the Bay Area, I've felt remarkably out of place. Instead, I try to mix up more formal pieces—a blouse or booties—with jeans.
When I'm packing for a trip back to the Bay Area, my packing list is fairly streamlined. Skinny jeans, a leather jacket, and flattering tees or cool statement tops. San Franciscans have a knack for knowing the coolest up-and-coming brands, but they wear them in a way that feels especially low-key. Below I'm highlighting what I avoid packing, along with the types of pieces I always bring along.
Things I Won't Pack for San Francisco:
- Super-high heels or stilettos
- Formal dresses or anything too fancy
- Pieces I can't layer
- Too many warm-weather items
- Impractical bags
Shop What I Always Pack
Throw a sweater on over this flowy dress.
These trousers look perfectly cool when worn with a tee.
This backpack can get you through whatever your day may have in store.
Meet the prettiest take on fall florals.
A classic denim jacket is a solid choice, but a fashion-forward one feels especially cool.
A cozy sweater is the ultimate layering piece.
You can spend all day in these comfy boots.
Layer this top under your favorite tank.
Leggings are sure to come in handy.
We love the vintage wash of these jeans.
Fun fact: You can visit Everlane's shop and office in San Francisco.
A cool leather jacket will take you from day to night.
Fall is sweater season, and we love this style.
This statement bag can hold everything you need.
Boots that stand out from the crowd.
Try a pop of color.
Skinny jeans go with everything you own.
This jacket can survive whatever weather.
Track pants are so easy to dress up or down.