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San Francisco Weather Essentials; A guide to a fall/winter weather wardrobe

You usually can tell the tourists apart from locals in San Francisco. They’re usually wearing lightweight clothing, shivering in their fleece half-zip pullover with San Francisco embroidered on the breast, (obviously bought from Chinatown or the wharf), and looking confused.  You can almost hear them thinking, “What happened to the warm weather, beaches, and palm trees? The people with flowers in their hair? Is this even California?”

Well, welcome to San Francisco.

You probably noticed San Francisco’s fickle weather. While preparing for school, you look out the window and notice the sun shining. You pull on your shoes, walk outside, and promptly freeze while thinking “Surely the sun was shining when I was getting dressed! Where did all this fog come from?”  And commuters, you also have that lovely moment of shock when you realize that just because the South or East Bay remains a lovely 70 degrees, San Francisco slaps you hard in the face with a nice, heavy blast of fog.  After learning that lesson, your parents now probably think that you’re crazy for leaving the house with such heavy clothing for what they think will be a lovely, warm day.

Here are some pieces that you should keep at hand to help you survive the San Francisco weather. [pagebreak]

A great jacket

A great jacket Ditch that fleece pullover with San Francisco embroidered on the chest! Instead, grab
something that you won’t find at the wharf or in Chinatown that all the tourists buy. Wool coats While you don’t need to buy a heavy wool coat, a wool jacket will service you well. Wool looks expensive, classic, warm, and durable for years to come. Additionally, wool contains lanolin, which makes it naturally water resistant, so you’ll be safe from light drizzles and the fog!

Tip: Just because wool repels water doesn’t mean it won’t get wet. A wet wool garment will get very heavy, and damp wool will smell like wet dog. Make sure to give your wool garments a good airing after water exposure!

Styles to try: Pea coat, cape, blazer Leather jackets Leather jackets look tough and sexy. While it may not be as warm on its own as other materials, you can’t deny the cool factor and how easily you can layer pieces underneath. Like wool, leather also looks expensive, will survive many seasons, and unless you go for suede, will withstand the rain. Plus, the older your jacket gets, the cooler it looks!

Tip: While genuine leather jackets can withstand a beating, faux leather requires some attention and will not be as durable. However, faux leather will have no problem with rain, and great for those against wearing animal products!

Styles to try: motorcycle, bomber, aviator

*photo by Hayne Park



You won’t find a shortage of cardigans and sweaters on campus, for good reason! Most consider jackets as
investment pieces, and thus only have one or two to serve their purpose. Because of their lower price, cardigans, hoodies, and sweaters can help round out your wardrobe and additionally give you alternatives to wearing just your jacket. Wear alone for San Francisco’s rare beautiful blue clear skies. Need extra warmth? Layer under your jacket, and experiment with different combinations.

Tip: If layering hoodies under jackets, go for something slim through the body and sleeves for comfort. You can also belt cardigans and sweaters to accent your waist!

Combinations to try: Hoodies under tailored jackets, drapey cardigans under rider jackets, dolman sweaters under cape jackets Bonus points if you own a hoodie from SFSU!


*photo by Hayne Park


The one thing that you can buy from Chinatown and not look like a tourist! Scarves provide an outfit upgrade
by adding color, style, and warmth quickly and cheaply. Want to look thinner and taller? Drape your scarf across your neck and let the ends hang down. Bad hair day? Hide it with a scarf. You forgot your umbrella and it’s raining? Run through the rain and use your scarf as a head covering. Have a boring outfit? There’s a scarf for that. Want to wear the same outfit you did yesterday? No one will remember if you wear a scarf!

Tip: Because you will mostly wear your scarf near your face, you may want to choose scarves that flatter your skin and hair coloring. Make sure that the fabric won’t irritate your skin!

Materials to try: cashmere, cotton, chiffon, silk

*photo by Hayne Park



Boots In other areas, boots exist as a fall staple. In San Francisco, boots remain a year round staple. Last
spring we saw combat boots explode the SFSU style scene, but that doesn’t change the reality that SFSU women have always worn boots. Boots provide warmth, style, and versatility to outfits and can make or break an outfit. While scarves boost your outfit to the next level, boots are the foundation of your outfit and can make a serious impact!

Tip: Take your boots to the cobbler to prolong their longevity so you don’t have to keep buying boots! They can cheaply repair zippers, recolor, fix soles and heels, and everything! You will never have to worry about permanently ruining your favorite pair of boots again!

Styles to try: Flat riding, combat, ankle, motorcycle.

*photo by Hayne Park



Can’t give up your dresses and shorts, or didn’t budget for your legs? Try layering leggings or tights
underneath to give you instant warmth and sophistication. Occasionally you’ll see those tough local girls who are walking through the fog bare-legged, and while you don’t have to prove your localness by baring your extremities to the San Francisco chill, you can definitely show off your street style.

Tip: While black sheer or opaque are staples, try colored opaque tights to bring colorful pops in your outfit!

Styles to try: sheer, opaque, lace

You can also layer tights and leggings under each other or under jeans for extra warmth. With these staples you will definitely be ready to take on San Francisco.

All photos by Hayne Park.

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Hayne Park

San Francisco

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