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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Five Secrets Known by Sharp-Dressed San Francisco Men

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2011 at 7:30 AM

By Page McBee

Letter to a Young San Francisco Sartorialist

At the end of the month, my partner and I are leaving the Bay Area for New England. This has got me thinking a lot about closure and since this is my last post for IBC x SF Weekly, I thought I'd use the opportunity to explore the unique style opportunities available to gentlemen of NorCal.

I know many of you are arriving by the carload every day, and saying to yourself, "Oh! It's May! I can't wait to wear these bomb Levi's jean shorts this summer." That is your first mistake. To prevent you from further ones, here are five ways to survive this wet and wild climate while maintaining your style dignity.

(Oh, and this should prepare you for the fog, too.)

1. Discover the Joy of Layering

You will do it all year long. Invest in some nice pieces -- a classy Henley or two, a slim-fit flannel shirt that doesn't make you look like a lumberjack (avoid the red-and-black checkered pattern that has become a skater uniform), a pair of wool socks, a summer scarf.

I'm about to get bossy, but this is real: The trick is to pull off layers without looking unwashed. If you look unwashed, you will look like a bike messenger (if you are under 21, carry on). For some reason, this is a popular and enduring look among San Franciscans. If you are an adult who is not actually a bike messenger, keep it trim and neat (that includes your beards, dudes, and most especially your mustaches).

Most of all, embrace the need to layer. If you fight it, you will drive yourself crazy. If you miss summer, take a vacation. You will never need shorts, I promise.

Jackets at North Beach Shop, Al's Attire - KAREEM WORRELL
  • Kareem Worrell
  • Jackets at North Beach Shop, Al's Attire

2. Be Whoever You Want to Be

San Francisco is still deeply rooted in the freewheeling spirit of the "Go West, young man" American dream. One major benefit of this is that you can be whoever you want to be here. This extends to your style. So what if back home you didn't know your fashion ass from your fashion elbow? Nobody cares who you used to be, which is the greatest gift this town will give you. So why waste it by looking like everybody else? Find yourself, man! And while you're at it, find your style.

Style, by the way, is that unique intersection between what makes you look good and feel good and what simultaneously and subtly communicates something about you to the world. It's not about trends or high fashion. It's about extending your personality to your physicality.

3. The Nautical Nexus

If I had to name the real style touchstone, the inspiration that keeps on giving, it's the FREAKING OCEAN. If sailor and/or psychedelic surfer style does not call you like a siren, I'm not sure what you're doing out here on the edge. I'm more of a sailor guy myself -- stripes and toggle sweaters, boat shoes and wool caps. The layering problem is solved easily by looking toward the port history of the city by the Bay.

  • flickr/irene

4. Downtown

The Financial District is an oft-ignored gem of sartorial splendor. Head to Market Street on any given Monday and peoplewatch. Tailored suits, ties that pop, fine leather satchels, and pocket squares folded properly. We look so European in our business district! Check it out.

5. Parting Shot

Shop local! S.F. is producing some of the best menswear in the country. Check out Unionmade and Welcome Stranger for starters. Whoever you are, you are welcome here. Do us proud.

Good night and good luck,
Page McBee

IBC X Exhibitionist is a weekly blog column about San Francisco fashion by the rotating cast of the Ironing Board Collective. Check back next Thursday for more.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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