The most important thing you need to know about what to wear in San Francisco is that the city is actually colder than you think. You know that the weather there is very unpredictable and is often hit with chilly fog and frosty winds at different points of time. So make sure you are appropriately packed and bring enough of layers. And then, you can pack for the city as an “avant-garde chic”!
Weather of San Francisco
Surrounded largely by water, San Francisco’s weather is very hard to predict and changes like the seas, literally. Over the expected four seasons, none of them turn out as they should but the city also has a lot of fog; in fact, plumes of fog and brilliant sunsets.
Spring – Spring is one of the most inviting seasons of SF. It is characterized by cloudless and mild weather conditions and also bears witness to some of the warmest and driest days in the year.
Summer – SF is the only place where you can expect white dense fog in summer months. The billowing white fog, a product of sea spray and overcast and cool weather is how you will find San Francisco in summers. However, the fog thins out by late August.
Fall – Fall in San Francisco witnesses one-of-a-kind weather and probably the best in the year. Days are warm and sunny and sometimes scorching, too; and nights are mild and cool. Fog has cleared by now and rainfall is very rare, which makes fall season one of the best time to visit SF.
Winter – Even when the months are cold, it doesn’t snow in SF. However, rains are abundant and frequent and storms from coasts of Mexico and Central American bring rainfall of all varieties, from short downpour to heavy torrential rains. However, winters are mild here compared to rest of the country.
What to Wear and How to Pack for San Francisco?
Even during the warmest months in SF, you will probably need a jacket. So pack in layers, and then add some more layers. Unexpected upswells and chilling blasts sweep over SF without any notice and as a result the temperature changes in an instant. In fact, you can never be too sure of the weather.
Women – A typical summer dress for ladies in SF consists of a short skirt paired with a heavy jacket and sandals. So, pack as if you are packing for winters because it is always better to layer rather than pile up a heavy coat. Also, people here do not wear a lot of bright colors. Just avoid fur in SF lest you are rounded up by PETA activists. You can get around the city comfortably in a pair of jeans and full-sleeve T-shirts and blouses layered with a light jacket on a warm day. A colder day would require a woolen sweater and a heavy jacket. Even the coldest days will not require snow coats. Keep tunics and formal gowns for restaurants only.
Men – Don’t go for bright colors from head to toe; instead, opt for subtle colors, like teal, tan, and beige. Jeans and T-shirts are okay in San Francisco. Also pack full-sleeve button-down shirts that can be worn with trousers and jeans alike; layer them with a blazer or a leather jacket. The rule of not wearing fur in SF applies to men, too. Also avoid heavy fragrances. You can go for an overcoat or a trench.
Kids – Layering is the key for kids again. Lightweight but warm sweaters, T-shirts, scarves and hoodies will all do well for kids, basically anything that can be added or removed comfortably will do. It is mild but not mild enough for shorts, so leave them at home. You can totally go for jeans and T-shirts though. Pullovers and fleece can also be packed.
Footwear – Boots are totally acceptable in San Francisco. Avoid flip-flops altogether. In fact, avoid open-toe shoes. Opt for closed-toe ones that are comfortable in wearing.
Accessories – Scarves and sunglasses are must-haves in each and every weather of San Francisco. Carry a nice bag, too, along with a hat and sunscreen. As rains are very unreliable, don’t forget your umbrella or trench coat.