Privilege Blog

In San Francisco We Are Always Transitioning

Elsewhere on the Internets, I was chatting with a few pals. Someone asked about transitional outerwear.

Well then.

In San Francisco, where I now work, we are always transitioning. Within hours, in fact. Because we live on a bay, or The Bay as we say, our marine layer makes frequent surprise appearances. We’ve learned to cope. Tourists, on the other hand, are often caught shivering in shorts or dressed as for a Northwestern forest – fleece and petrochemically derived garments in full force.

Come time for Spring, San Franciscan’s are ready. No one piece solves every moment of transitional seasons, or transitional cities, for that matter.

We’ve learned to arm ourselves with classics, and layer them like crazy. Classics become classic for good reason – their material and silhouettes make them both useful and good-looking, as my mother says. And they tend to go with everything, meaning you’ll never wear a purple ruffled jacket over pink thermal henley unless you want to.

Here’s what you will find San Franciscans wearing, throughout the year.

The most classic of all layerable outerwear (you see, that’s the category we’re in, right?), is a trench coat. Or a trench jacket. One does not have to spend bushels of dough. Don’t let Burberry convince you they are the De Beers of De Trench. This is by A.P.C.

Nobody’s required to do beige, either, says Old Navy.

The list of trench options goes on. I have a short one from Gryphon, whose line is a little too quirky this year for my tastes. And another one in black, from Nordstrom for $120. My J. Crew Field Jacket is an infantry version, in essence. If you want a trench, I guarantee you can find one.

I’d award second place in Layerable Outerwear to the venerable peacoat. Mine’s from Costco and cost all of $60, but if you want to go luxe, of course, you can. Malene Birger, in linen. Now sold out, but my goodness how lovely.

A denim jacket always comes in handy. Multiple colors, if you please.

And finally, if you’d like to wander over to the other-era side of classics, there’s the actual Spring Coat. This one’s from Madewell.

Has its distinct charms, does it not? Charms an unzipped North Face windbreaker, or pink Patagonia fleece for that manner, can’t quite muster. Remember, out and about, one’s coat makes all the introductions.

If I’ve missed a category, you will speak up, won’t you?

36 Responses

    1. Well, aren’t I foolish! I thought the comment was just for registration purposes.

      I love the colored denim jacket – I have several that I use at this time of the year. They are easy to remove and light enough that I often keep on inside where I am working.

      1. Would you like me to remove the test comment? I have amazing powers over here:).

  1. I live very near the Gulf Coast, and we layer too. One can be wearing a jacket over sweater in the morning, and literally be in flip flops and tank by afternoon! Crazy, but we love it! I like your choices! My favorite, though, is the peacoat.

  2. I think a leather (or vinyl, for the leather-avoidant among us) jacket can be a great option too. Depending on the lining they can be anywhere from super warm to more light, denim/trench like. Also you get great wind-breaking properties which helps if the coldest part of the weather is the wind.

    Plus, you can go basic black or cognac brown or get crazy like me and buy all the colours.

  3. Yes to the leather jacket. I got my first one this year, just a fake one from Express since I was dipping my toe into the style, and it has been SO useful, more than I dreamed. And I get tons of compliments on it (I’m in my fifties and my style is not edgy!)

  4. Perfect fashion pitch as always — and on a subtle challenge, what outerwear to wear when the weather keeps changing. Love the bright green Old Navy trench and the understated Madewell spring coat. Would love to find a cheaper knock-off “spring coat.”

  5. Here’s to the ever-changeable marine climate! You are singing my song! And hooray for the concept of not resigning onesself to a lifetime of “petrochemically-derived” all weather garments. I always laugh when I see people visiting my Scottish town all decked-out in the latest Adventure Gear In Sturdy Fabrics( I always think to myself am I supposed to be wearing that!? I live here…am I missing something!? Did I not get the memo?)Who says you have to live your life in fleece and Gore-Tex just because you live somewhere rainy, or cold, or hot, or all of the above on any given day? A toast to real clothes, and the people that wear them. Cheers!

  6. I am still looking for the perfect trench. There are not many options in tall lengths. I did even try Burberry, and was somewhat relieved when the sleeves were too short.

  7. A leather jacket here too. Have always had one and use them like crazy.
    I like khaki trench coats, or maybe black, but for me, colored ones are not the same thing. Cute coats maybe, but for me they don’t read as a classic trench. The same way that a pea coat (again for me) should be navy, or maybe black to be a real pea coat – otherwise, just a cute, double breasted jacket.

  8. “Remember, out and about, one’s coat makes all the introductions.”

    Oh, now you’re scaring me.

    Michelle O wore a good looking jacket recently, this one from Ann Taylor:

    Michelle O, certainly NOT one of the QDs of the world, chose that dayglo orange color for herself. I see the tan one is sold out. I, the ultimate QD, will be ordering mine in black.

  9. I do admit, I live in my North Face and Patagonia fleece jackets. But I also own a beige full-length trench, a bright yellow and cobalt blue trench jacket, and a few seafaring-scented windbreaker. Layering certainly helps in Spring!

  10. The APC trench is a favorite of mine, but I was also impressed by the Old Navy version. And the Actual Spring Coat from Madewell also pleasantly surprises!

    Sending you a smile,

  11. I do love a good Spring Coat. Nothing says ‘optimistic’ and ‘lady’ and ‘birds singing’ like a light colour, a bit of swing, and the hint of a frock (crucially a frock, not a dress) underneath.

  12. The coastal-proximal area of LA too, requires transitional wear. Even in the summertime, most evenings are cool enough to require at least a sweater. (We often sit under blankets to watch July 4th fireworks.) A trench sometimes feels like too much here though, after April. Denim jackets, check. Lightweight leather jackets, check. Hoodies, (cotton, lightweight cashmere or linen) check. Other random lightweight jackets, check.

  13. I love transitional clothing, wish I could wear more of it, but in NJ we usually go straight from winter to summer and then back, with the exception of this year, we actually have spring, it seems. I love classic trench coats, mine is a boring beige from Banana Republic.

  14. Ok. Have a boring beige trench and an equally boring grey peacoat. I love them both and wear them constantly.

  15. Wanted to add a nylon quilted jacket as an item I wear often over other layers. Very lightweight, great in the summer evenings, where in LA is does get cold.
    Sometimes I feel they can be a bit dowdy, but I still always need one.

  16. I am on the fence with trenches and I have a few. If I could live in a cape all year long, I would. I just popped a few linen jackets into my wardrobe. I will see how they much as I love linen..the wrinkles drive me crazy! Love the Malene Birger….I am into long jackets, similar to the last image. They do wonders for pulling an outfit together. :)

  17. If you really want to Represent what San Franciscans wear, you missed the full- or half-zip fleece. But I’m glad you missed it.

  18. I totally agree about the importance of nice coats… I got a lovely jade green rain resistant mid-thigh length trench from Marks and Spencer, only problem is, it isn’t warm enough for days that are cold *and* rainy. I don’t feel right in tweedy or heavy wool coats in spring but it’s cold enough for them some days.

    Before you reply, I do wear wool/cashmere pashminas and gloves and layers of fine wool but I guess I’m not acclimatised to England yet. (I moved here from a warmer climate a few months ago).

    Another category of coat that seems to be very English is these lovely femine coats that are kind of military up top, tightly fitted to the waist then with a big flaring ‘skirt’. They’d suit my hourglass figure down to the ground, but of course they’re not for sale now – it’s all gauzy summer things in the shops…

  19. I see your San Francisco andraise you Montréal, where April veered from the low 70 (F)s to snowflakes on May 26. Cashmere 3/4 sleeve v-neck: nothing else provides that insurance policy beneath a springlike but insufficient trench. I also depend on a featherweight cashmere tucker scarf like Eric Bompard’s “voile” stashed in a bag.

    Admire your filed jacket very much! Just bought a leaf green jean jacket- big enough to layer over a sweater.

  20. I’m a fan of quilted nylon jackets too.

    Whenever I go to San Francisco I take a heavy cotton scarf. If it gets breezy it can snug up a lighter jacket.

  21. I love clothes, but I really, really love Spring clothes and especially Spring coats. Trench coats, denim jackets, linen blazers, double breasted jackets with brass buttons, Chanel-inspired jackets with fringed hems and cuffs, khaki jackets with gathered waists and popped collars, and navy blue blazers pinstriped in pink.

    I think my obsession can trace its source to a lilac coat I bought at Bloomingdales with my first paycheck in high school. Thanks for the memories!

  22. Well, here in Finland, I seem to wear my ankle length down coat up to 9 months a year. I don´t like layering at all.
    When it is warm, no coats. For my town visits, I do, however have a rear hiding length cotton coat.
    Due to the country living, the furry ones, black is the color for both.

  23. It always makes me really excited when it warms up enough to wear my spring trench. It has a cream ground with pink and yellow plaid in thin stripes. Puts an instant pep in my step.

  24. Ditto on the Spring Coat! Maybe with stockings, a short skirt and rain boots – with some super chunk-traction and height. Do they exist? They should! Why am I not in love with my Jean Jacket anymore?

  25. I love the trenches, peacoat, and spring coat you posted. The only things I would add to your list for spring are a Barbour Liddesdale jacket and something with a hood for those frightfully rainy and/or windy spring days. (Why is it so hard to find cute hooded trench coats?)

  26. I seem to live in my Barbour jacket most of the year,Burberry beige trench (30yrs old!!)my go to town when I need to look more together. Ida

  27. Adore the green trench and coloured jacket. I’m so excited about my new bespoke leopard trench. Think I ought to get myself a green trench. Let’s see;-)

  28. Layering is a year-round wardrobe adventure for San Francisco bay area dwellers/workers. I even keep a leopard print throw-blanket slung over my office chair. My go-to above-knee length trench is black multi-purposed for day or night use all year long. I’ve considered a lively spring trench but I tend to avoid high maintenance fabrics/colors in something I’d be wearing so much. I do like looking at them though! Great ideas –

  29. I have a single breasted trench in duck egg blue, which has proven to be surprisingly versatile. It goes with black, navy, red, grey, beige, white and pretty muck any pastel. Yet it is more fun than any of the traditional neutrals.

Comments are closed.