Our Ultimate Guide to How to Dress in San Francisco Weather
Whenever I have friends visiting from out of town, I always have a chuckle when I see them show up in cute summer dresses and shorts. Yes, it is the summer. Yes, it’s California. But while most people imagine the entire state as a perpetual summer, hollywood dream with blue skies and palm trees, San Francisco is not that.
In fact, San Francisco is almost always the same weather regardless of the month of year. It’s rarely very hot in the summer, and it doesn’t get nearly as cold during the winter. But, it is almost always foggy (Karl the fog is a thing), particularly along the water. At the same time, walking up and down the hills can be a workout, and as the further in you go, you can actually get some nice sunny weather- in fact, the Dolores Park is always swarm packed when the weather’s nice.
So, my friends, take it from a local: Here’s how to dress for San Francisco for every season and month of the year.
The key to dressing for San Francisco weather is to always be prepared with layers. There’s a few staples you should bring regardless of the season:
Key Staples to Take to San Francisco Trip Year Round
- Light Jacket that you can throw on when you’re feeling a bit chilly. You can even bring a thicker one when it’s winter, but there’s no need to break out the snow jacket. North face jackets are extremely popular. If you'll be spending a lot of time out by the beach or pier, a light wind breaker will come in handy even on sunny days. It will definitely get chilly at night so a jacket will come in handy.
- Day bag that’s light weight. Again, you’ll likely be a lot of walking and probably walking up hills, so a mini day bag will some in handy. Keep it hands free with a crossbody and protect your belongings with anti-theft properties like slash proof material and RFID protection (Like our Anti-theft Waterproof Crossbody *wink wink*)
- Comfy shoes. Cannot repeat enough. SF is extremely hilly. Unless you plan on ubering door to door, heels will probably be a challenge to tour with in the city. (If you can, more power to you!) Instead, I'd suggest going with some cute, athletic sneakers or comfy flats. Plus, then you can hop onto a bicycle and bike across the Golden Gate Bridge! (One of our top 10 views of the city)
- Casual layers you can mix and match. As I mention in my carry-on only packing tips, your pieces should be able to work together to create multiple outfits with less items. San Francisco isn’t particularly fashionable like Los Angeles or New York. Even in fancy restaurants people dress pretty low key. Think a nice top and pants vs. glam dress with heels. Of course there are women who wear more glam outfits, and you should dress however you’re most comfortable, but know that you won’t be out of place wearing t-shirt/hoodies and athleisure outfits. If you’re out all day and won’t be back to the hotel until night, it’s a good idea to dress in layers that you can remove/put on more as the temperature fluctuates throughout the day
San Francisco Weather Each Month of the Year
What to Wear in San Francisco for Winter (November, December, January, February)
It doesn’t snow in San Francisco, so winters in San Francisco never gets very cold.
- Warm Jacket: I do wear a thicker than usual jacket come wintertime, usually a fleece or down jacket, but you don’t need anything nearly as hardcore as usual winter gear.
- Sweaters and long sleeves that can layer under your jacket.
- Stick to closed toed shoes, like booties or sneakers.
- A scarf is always a great idea for travel in general.
- Umbrella / Rain coat (Optional) San Francisco usually gets ~25 inches a year. The rainy season (October - March) is usually not terrible (more like a constant drizzle), so you can usually get away with just a hooded jacket.
What to Wear in San Francisco for Spring (March, April, May)
Spring is usually pretty cool around the 60s, and even colder at nights.
- Long pants: For most days, it’s not warm enough for shorts/skirts.
- A light jacket will come in handy at night or on windy days.
- Tank top/ t-shirts to layer under a thin long sleeve or jacket.
- Sneakers or comfy flats.
What to Wear in San Francisco for Summer (June, July, August)
Summer never gets super hotter. Surprise: You still should have a jacket.
- Light weight jacket for the wind, the shade, and cool nights.
- Long pants: Still not quite warm enough for shorts/skirts. You can bring them if you’ll be exploring more inland/ nearby cities outside of SF, where it does actually get warm.
- Sandals or comfy shoes: it’s not really hot enough where you NEED sandals but at least your toes won’t be freezing off.
- Swimsuit unnecessary unless you’re swimming indoors or somewhere in the nearby cities where you’re going to be wearing those shorts and skirts. If you want a dip in the ocean, get a wetsuit!
What to Wear in San Francisco for Indian Summer (September, October)
Basically the only time it gets hot is a couple weeks (or days) in September and October. Even then, don’t be surprised if Karl makes a few appearances!
- Sun dress, shirts, shorts, sandals are a-OK. Being a cold averse person, personally I would bring leggings or tights just in case that morning looks chilly! It’s not terribly hot, so long pants are always a safe option.
- Light jacket: You can’t escape it! The nights get windy and chilly so just bring it- you won’t regret it.
- Light long sleeve/ cardigan: Great for layering over a dress to keep a little warmer when walking around the city or sitting in the shade
Hope you have a great trip to our favorite (and only) hometown of San Francisco!
San Francisco Bingo Board (Free Download)
Karin is the co-founder of Arden Cove and co-creator of the Anti-Theft Waterproof Crossbodies - bags created for women who want all the practicality and safety features without compromising in style. Shop ArdenCove.com.