Immortalized as a haven for hippies, drifters and beatniks in the 60s, San Francisco street style has reflected this outsider aesthetic ever since. The hilly metropolis surrounded by the Pacific Ocean has long been associated with a boho peace-and-love spirit. Throughout the 60s and 70s, Haight-Ashbury – still one of the more fashionable San Francisco neighborhoods – was the epicenter of America’s burgeoning counter culture.
Recently, however, San Francisco’s hippy soul has come under threat. An influx of young professionals, drawn by flourishing tech companies and startups, has transformed several of the city’s most authentic hippy areas. This evolution is responsible for the development of many fashionable San Francisco neighborhoods and has directly influenced San Francisco style.
A once far-from-glamorous part of the city, this neighborhood in the Western Addition district of San Francisco has been completely transformed over the past few decades. Art galleries, interior design shops and upmarket fashion boutiques have replaced the questionable establishments of old.
The destruction of the Central Freeway in the 1989 earthquake had a transformative effect on the area. Gone was the concrete eyesore – and the noise and pollution that came with it. Businesses flourished and footfall increased. If you’re taking a stroll down Octavia Boulevard – a pretty, tree-lined street flanked by hip eateries and cool shops – you’re bound to spot some excellent examples of San Francisco street style.
Residents here work a sophisticated, understated look to perfection. Think neutral color palettes inspired by Chloé, luxe textures and the injection of unexpected elements such as clogs or a fedora hat. Despite the increase in high-end establishments, Hayes Valley has somehow managed to hang on to its authenticity and community spirit. The fashion reflects that. Tapping into of-the-moment style but never trying too hard, this is one of the trendiest San Francisco neighborhoods. Mix in some Jil Sander with vintage flea market finds to emulate the look.
The Mission District
Characterized by its colorful murals and thriving Latin culture, The Mission is now also home to the laptop-toting, latte-sipping set wearing Kenzo sneakers. Performance stages, galleries and cool bars sit alongside indie book stores, designer shops and craft beer pubs. The Mission has a reputation for being one of the most stylish neighborhoods in San Francisco – and with good reason.
Residents are not afraid to experiment with their outfits so anything goes – you’ll see men in Hawaiian shirts with corduroy jackets and rolled-up jeans and women in flowing floral skirts and print-clashing jackets.
Gucci's recent collections capture this eclecticism: picture clashing fabrics, appliquéd ties and sumptuous pussy-bow blouses, preferably paired with sneakers. And while you’re roaming The Mission, be sure to visit Mission Thrift for some one-of-a-kind finds.
Despite its quirky name, this is quite the avant-garde neighborhood. Dockside warehouses and factories have been converted into contemporary studios, shared living spaces and hip pop-ups. This is a district that wears its gritty industrial heritage well. Its main selling point? The farm-to-table restaurant scene. Farm: Table is a prime example of the trend, rustling up wholesome food in a rustic setting. As San Francisco street style goes, Dogpatch is where you’ll discover some of the best hipster fashion in the city: beanies, flannel, well-worn jeans, and of course, vegan leather are the order of the day. You’ll see men in obscure printed tees by Dsquared2, while women opt for pieces by Derek Lam or Paul Smith. Eclectic street fashion in San Francisco lends itself especially well to some offbeat accessories, so this is the perfect time to accessorize with a novelty bag.
SoMa is a large neighborhood just south of Market Street, hence the name. This is another area that prospered following the dot.com boom and today is home to many well-dressed, condo-dwelling professionals. The look here hinges on layering, good tailoring and stand-out separates: think culottes, cashmere scarves and oversized sweater dresses. Instagrammer and San Francisco resident Anh Sundstrom is rarely seen without a sleek coat layered over a pretty printed blouse. Her blog, 9 to 5 Chic, offers a perfect example of the neighborhood’s streamlined, professional look.
There are so many dire neighborhoods in San Francisco and so many inspirational looks to experiment with. From the tailored suits in SoMa to the normcore staples in Dogpatch, and even the lingering hippie style of the city’s golden age, San Francisco's street style is truly representative of its history and the unique diversity of its inhabitants.