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BOSF 2012: How to Be a Street Fashion Contender 

Wednesday, May 16 2012

It's worth remembering that our city is known for its style. Blue jeans were born here in 1873, and that certainly fits: S.F. style is characterized by laid-back, comfortable clothing peppered with striking accessories for an artsy yet utilitarian look.

Here's how to make yourself S.F. street-wear ready:

Know your neighborhood. We know that checking the weather here is utterly pointless. You can enjoy a balmy afternoon in Dolores Park, while your smart phone swears its raining in the Sunset. Here's how our weird microclimates work: The western side of the city bears the brunt of sea winds and fog, so it will always, always be colder. The Mission and the Castro are insulated by the city and enjoy warmer weather as a result; and everywhere else is pretty unpredictable. Dress according to your destination, but don't forget a T-shirt under that sweater, or a scarf.

Grab your bag. This is the only city we've ever been where bags are ubiquitous. Boy, girl, or gender-queer, none of us leaves home without somewhere to stash that aforementioned spare scarf. Accordingly, quite a few companies have sprung up to feed our citizens' demands. Rickshaw Bagworks (904 22nd St. at Minnesota, 904-8368) crafts adorable messenger bags, laptop cases, Moleskine folios, and more at its Dogpatch studio. Mission Workshop (40 Rondel at 16th St., 864-7225) built its business on messenger bags and recently expanded into outerwear. While neither company's wares come cheap, we justify such purchases with a cost-per-wear formula: If we carry that bag every day for the next five months, it only costs $1 each time!

Shop secondhand. To offset the price of that made-in-S.F. tote, pay regular visits to your neighborhood thrift stores. They're as common as coffee shops, and you'll sometimes score a sweater that costs less than your latte. We've got our favorites all over town (Wasteland in the Haight, 31 Rax in Bernal Heights, Afterlife, Schauplatz, and Mission Thrift in the Mission, Old Vogue in North Beach, Out of the Closets across the city, etc.) and with so many, it's easy to cheaply fill your closet, whether you're hoping to blend in with the local hipster crowd or stand out at the office.

Coiffure those curls. Even though the wind will wreck your hair in minutes, we all need to treat ourselves to a new 'do every once in a while. Our local ladies tend to favor long, flowing locks, and our gents love their beards. Splurge on a glamorous cut and color at Harper Paige (11 Tillman at Grant, 391-1050) or diPietro Todd Academy (177 Post at Grant, 397-0177), or get fixed up for a night out at Drybar (1908 Fillmore at Bush, 347-8908), where you can score a perfect blow-dry and a few drinks without breaking the bank. Bearded boys can visit F.S.C. Barber (696 Valencia at 18th St., 621-9000) for essentials like beard oil and shaving kits, all without having to make an appointment.

Keep an eye on local designers. Since that first pair of Levi's were sewn and riveted here in San Francisco (out of boat sails, as the legend goes), our city has been known for garment manufacturing — though many of those plants have since moved their operations elsewhere. Still, we've seen a resurgence in locally designed and sewn clothing. Tellason, Turk + Taylor, Department Seventeen, Taylor Stitch, and Nice Collective are all focusing their passion and innovation on San Francisco. Although you may not be used to forking over the cash that "made in S.F." demands, consider it an investment. Who knows? Maybe someday you can sell that custom design to the deYoung Museum for one of its annual fashion exhibitions.

About The Author

Kate Conger

Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.


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