San Franciscans have a multi-faceted arsenal of rain gear and are well-versed in the concept of bundling up when the fog rolls in. But they are a bit thrown off when the sun comes out.
Unlike most cities where it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, San Francisco is known to exhibit characteristics of all four seasons in the span of a day. On a sunny day in SF, Dolores Park becomes replete with an equal amount of cold beer and summer style. However, dusk is usually a harsh reminder that summer doesn’t really exist in San Francisco.
Nonetheless, the recent heat wave is a gleaming harbinger that summer is fast approaching.
It’s no secret that San Francisco weather is wildly moody, but that doesn’t mean style has to be sacrificed. There are a slew of ways to embrace the sun but still be well equipped for San Francisco’s temperamental temperatures.
“I definitely have to pull out a pair of shorts when the heat wave strikes and set the leather jacket aside,” said Roanne Quiozon, a comparative and world literature major at SF State who interns for a college fashion website and has her own fashion and lifestyle blog. “I just make a series of simple swaps, such as switching from pants to shorts, skirts and tights to skirts without the tights, or boots to loafers.”
Denizens of the “Foggy City” are no strangers to layers. SF natives know better than to leave the house without a jacket, no matter what the weather is like. Sunny days are great excuses to wear skirts, dresses and shorts, but it’s always safe to bring a coat, jacket or scarf just in case.
“San Francisco throughout the year has a lot of different climates depending on where you are in the city, but also what time of day it is, so that’s something that’s literally ingrained in the culture,” said street style photographer JT Tran, who founded Thesfstyle.com and co-authored Street Fashion Photography: Taking Stylish Pictures on the Concrete Runway. “You never know, it’s very often that it could be a nice day, but as soon as the sun starts to go down, it’s freezing… so people are very used to having a jacket or just having lots of layers so they can adjust as necessary.”
This season, San Francisco residents are retiring dark colors and embracing whites and pastels. “I’ve been seeing a lot of white for this season,” said Tran. “I think this summer there’s going to be a lot of people wearing more white than usual.”
Lighter alternatives to dark, heavy fabrics and accessories that add a unique pop of color are also great ways to embrace the sunshine.
“If I had to pick one fabric or the best color to represent a San Francisco summer I would think a whitewashed denim,” said Maghan McDowell, style reporter for the Sunday style section of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Because this is such a denim city, I mean Levi’s were invented here. And I think that is the ultimate versatile fabric: light denim.”
Pairing white denim with a light jean or chambray shirt and topping it off with colorful accessories creates a polished, playful look that is perfect for sunny days in the city.
“Accessories are an easy way to update your look, or to channel a trend you’re not quite sure how to wear yet,” said Quiozon. “Mint green cat eye sunglasses, baby blue kitten heels, pastel pink on anything…those sort of things remind me of a 50’s ice cream parlor and I absolutely adore it.”
Shorts are a must-have for a San Francisco heatwave. Tran recommends high waisted styles for women and mid-thigh length chinos or khakis for men. Pair it with an element of warmth, such as tights for the ladies and a sweater for the guys, for a polished and weather-appropriate look.
McDowell encourages San Franciscans to embrace their feminine side with skirts and dresses in lightweight fabrics such as linen. She also recommends ditching the ankle booties and acquiring a versatile pair of sneakers or flats.
Quiozon loves the playful fashion choices she sees around campus and in the city when the sun is out.
“During a heatwave people will lean towards lighter pieces, but without necessarily sacrificing big style,” said Quiozon. “Maybe they can’t wear their favorite flashy coat or vintage dress, but they can make up for it with accessories.” She describes recently spotting a man wearing a white shirt and ankle cut jeans with lime green loafers, which she thought was a great way to make an otherwise simple outfit unique.
Sunny days are a great excuse to experiment with your fashion choices. So why not take a cue from the sun and brighten up your outfit?