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What to Wear in San Francisco

SmarterTravel

What to wear in San Francisco can be a bit of a conundrum: The city’s weather changes quickly, so definitely bring layers and be prepared to go from glorious sunshine to chilly ocean winds and fog—and back again—over the course of a day.

Here’s What to Wear in San Francisco

Yes, this is California, but too many tourists make the mistake of packing only shorts and tank tops. Instead, follow our packing guide below and you should be good to go.

Walking Shoes

What to wear in San Francisco? Good walking shoes. The whole city is only 49 square miles, and most of the major sights are a walkable distance from each other. You can also walk yourself over the Golden Gate Bridge, or through the Marina to Fisherman’s Wharf. There are plenty of museums to explore too, so lace up and get going.

North Face or Patagonia Jacket

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These two outdoorsy brands may as well be San Francisco’s official uniform. Even the high-powered FiDi business types wear this lightweight outerwear over their button-up shirts. Order one in a color you like, and you’ll pass as a local.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen

Don’t be fooled by San Francisco’s famous fog; you can get sunburned here even on the cloudiest of days. So don’t take that chance—go for full-coverage, SPF 30 or higher, and even better if it’s an eco-friendly brand like Kiss My Face.

Sunglasses

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Any list of what to wear in San Francisco must include a go-to pair of sunglasses. Whether you’re strolling, jogging, or renting a bike, be sure to protect your eyes with a stylish and polarized pair.

Travel Backpack

backpacks
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You’re sure to want to lug home an armful of souvenirs and maybe a loaf of Boudin—plus you’ll need something to carry all those layers—so strap on SwissGear’s rugged, TSA-approved backpack.

Down Vest

Columbia vest
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Down vests are a staple of San Francisco clothing. They’re perfect for the city’s cold-but-not-freezing days, keeping you warm enough to keep going but also preventing you from overheating. London Fog makes a lovely packable version for women.

Baseball Cap

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When in San Francisco, wear a San Francisco Giants cap—you’ll be a welcome sight everywhere in the Bay Area.

Cashmere Wrap

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You’ll want to up your San Francisco clothing a bit if you’re planning to experience any of the city’s key cultural institutions—the opera, ballet, symphony, or any of the central Broadway-style theaters. A lovely shawl or a unisex scarf can help you make a quick, easy transition from casual daytime attire into classier (and colder) evening activities.

Gloves

smartphone gloves
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You’ll definitely want gloves whenever you’re near the water—warm leather gloves for men or these quilted ones for women are warm, elegant, and just as perfect for a day on Pier 39 as they are for an evening out at the theater.

Yoga Pants

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(Photo: Lululemon; J Brand)

Preferably Lululemon, especially if you plan to spend any time in the Marina district, where every other lady walking by will be wearing this prestige brand, regardless of whether or not they’re headed to the yoga studio.

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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.

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