How to dress for Bay Area weather

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Spring has officially begun and as usual, the Bay Area weather gods seem completely oblivious. Dressing for the Berkeley climate is much like competing on Iron Chef: you’re thrown some surprise main ingredient and have to expertly improvise a multi-course meal using whatever they provide you with and hope to impress the judges. Okay… so maybe the metaphor is a bit of stretch, but nonetheless if you want to look half decent in a daylong battle against tumultuous winds, passive-aggressive rain and rare bursts of sunshine, read on for a list of trends and tips appropriate for springtime in the Bay.

Menswear-inspired Layers – Girls (and boys looking to start dressing like Men): Shed the notion of bulky layers and heavy-duty accents as being off-limits or too rugged. When temperatures get frigid, stay warm and look fly by layering flannels under chunky sweaters, throwing on an oversize vintage camo jacket or a bold coat and stomping the ground with a pair of Dr. Martens combat boots or classic Clarks desert shoes. Balance is key — keep from drowning in layers by pairing an oversize top with skinny cords or a crop turtleneck with high waist bottoms — and experiment with different shades of the same print or color layers.

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Sock it to me – For those like myself who don’t have the strongest affinity for pants: Invest in a couple of pairs of thigh-high socks. Wear them alone or with tights under your favorite springtime dress or denim shorts for a quick fashion-savvy upgrade. They add another dimension to your outfit and are an easy transition for days that can’t decide whether to be hot or cold.

Headwear – There are some of us out there who react to impromptu rain with slight panic and horror because we know exactly what it is capable of doing to our hair in as little as ten seconds. Here’s a quick rule to live by: Always carry a spare beanie. Beanies are quintessential. Not only do they save us in these dire moments and keep our heads toasty and dry, but they also add spunk and give you the option of adding a wildcard to your outfit depending on your color choice. When shopping for a new beanie, you have plenty of options and brands to choose from, but Carhartt is a personal favorite of mine — their workwear origins translate to durability, effortless style, and a solid selection of colors.

Headwear Part 2 – For the sunnier side of spring, top off your outfit (get it?) with a five-panel hat. And yes, I’m addressing the ladies here with this one as well. Five-panels are the lighter, less bulky alternative to the classic snapback. Streetwear heavy hitters like HUF and Supreme, as well as locals like Benny Gold, are coming out with more and more quirky and cool patterns to try. Wear one to actually shield your face from the sun, or if practicality is not a priority and you’re feeling extra adventurous, flip it backwards for some instant skater vibes.

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Flannels are Your Best Friend – Get more use out of your favorite, overused and abused staple flannel shirt. Pair it with a parka. Layer it under a sleeveless denim jacket. Tie it on around your waist under a loose sweater, over a cute dress or with some skinny black jeans, you punk. Wear it buttoned-up and then put on another one over it, un-buttoned. Put on an all-black outfit and then throw it in there as a pop of color. Add an extra layer of cozy under your denim jacket. Button up the top one or two buttons and let it hang, cholo style. Tone down a blazer and slacks. See? The possibilities are endless. And the same goes for any basic button-down in your closet. Now you won’t feel so bad when you buy another one off the rack at Mars this weekend.

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Contact Ashley Chen at [email protected].