I just recently moved to San Francisco since living in Reno my entire life, and noticed that I have been having mini panic attacks when dressing for the tiniest of events. In an attempt to understand why, I’ve been re-evaluating my own view on style, as well as the style I see daily in this city.
I have a deep and lasting love affair with fashion, which I’ve had for many years; but my own style is very uniform. I used to believe that once I move to a bigger city, where people appreciate fashion more, then my style will change to reflect that. However, San Francisco has changed the way I view my style…a lot. I remember back in May, Danielle Steele made a comment about San Franciscans having no style. At the time, I didn’t think too much of it. I was living in Reno, and didn’t care about her opinion on style. Since I’ve moved, I’ve taken great personal offense to her comment. It’s incredibly unfair to say we – I now refer to myself as a “we” when talking about San Francisco residents – have no style or sense of style. San Franciscans have style, but unfortunately, we’re slaves to our surroundings. San Francisco may not have the same “style” that New York, Paris, London, Milan, and LA, but our style is unique, an here’s why:
Hills! There are some killer hills scattered all over the city of San Francisco. And I’m not talking tiny little things; I’m talking about steep inclines everywhere! It’s like hitting the gym! Most women here don’t wear Tevas and Toms because they’re making a statement. Women are wearing them because at any given moment, they have to hike up a hill to get to the grocery store, or go to work, or get dinner with a friend. I love my heels, but I would never wear them unless I knew I was taking a cab to my destination. Even then, it depends on which street I need to get to to catch a cab (stupid-ass cab shortage).
I’ve noticed that the women crazy enough to wear heels, always carry their flats in their bags, so they can switch back and forth. I, unfortunately, don’t have the patience, or grace, to teeter on one heel while attempting to put on my flats. I love my shoes and boots, but I can’t bare the thought of walking down a steep incline in spiky Louboutins, or hike to my coffee shop in boots that pinch my feet.
“Well,” you might ask, “why not use the wonderful and convenient public transportation that is so readily available?” I would, and usually do (the day I was gifted my clipper card was a magical one! Is that sad?); however, my nearest BART station is at Union Square, ten blocks away, and my Muni bus is ALWAYS full, so I usually just walk (which is great, since I loathe the gym). So it’s a pretty safe bet that on any given day in this city, I’m schlepping home in my Toms.
Another reason we dress the way we do: THE WEATHER! Before I moved here, I knew the weather was unpredictable. I remember summers during my childhood, where my family and I would ride the ferry to Sausalito and I’d be bundled up in my down parka. The weather changes like an angsty teen changes moods. Sunny, hot, rainy, windy, foggy, sunny…BLAHG! This place and its bi-polar weather have forced me to layer up and it’s driving me crazy! I didn’t think this was too big a deal, until I had to hike home, because the last three buses were too damn full, and was overcome with heat exhaustion! It was like strolling through Death Valley! OK, that’s an exaggeration, but I did get really hot. So, I took off my coat, scarf, sweater, and long sleeved tee. That left me wearing a tank top, in the rain, while carrying a suitcase full of outerwear in my arms, and sweat frizzing my hair. This is a far cry from how I imagined my polished and stylish big city self.
My point is that San Franciscans have style. We have great style! But it’s all our own, for very good reasons. There are many brave souls in this city who go to work in six-inch stilettos and rock a fur coat on a regular basis. But for the rest of us, the “newbie’s”, we’re still toeing the line between comfort and style. That line would be a fashion sin in any other city, but this is San Francisco. We’re the most unique big city there is! You should know this, Danielle Steele! This may sound like an excuse, but to live here is to understand why our style is the way it is.