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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
When in San Francisco, wear a San Francisco Giants cap—you’ll be a welcome sight everywhere in the Bay Area.
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.
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.
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.
More from SmarterTravel:
- San Francisco Travel Guide
- 10 Best Hotels in San Francisco
- 10 Best Cheap Hotels in San Francisco
- The 10 Coolest Boutique Hotels in San Francisco
- 10 Must-See San Francisco Attractions
- The 9 Best Day Trips from San Francisco
- 10 Best Things to Do in San Francisco
- 12 Best Museums in San Francisco
- San Francisco Shopping: A Traveler’s Guide
- San Francisco Food: 9 Specialties You Have to Try
- 10 Best Cheap Eats in San Francisco
- 10 Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in San Francisco
- What to Pack for San Francisco
–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.