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What to Wear in San Diego: SoCal Style Tips
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What to Wear in San Diego: SoCal Style Tips

Pull out your luggage and get ready to tick off items on your San Diego packing list; we’ve got all your essentials on lock with this list.

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6 min read

November 01, 2021

When you think about San Diego, you think of gorgeous beaches, idyllic Mediterranean climate, and world-renowned surf culture. Well, the good news is that the San Diego style is also very much in tune with its beach town vibes. So, if you’re having a bit of a packing dilemma for your upcoming trip down south, keep the words “cool and coastal” in mind and you will pretty much hit the nail on the head. 

We’ve made a brief guide on what to wear in San Diego for whatever time of year your trip may take place. Pull out your luggage and get ready to tick off items on your San Diego packing list; we’ve got all your essentials on lock with this list.

The Southern California sun burns hot and bright all year round, but there’s almost always a cool breeze blowing in San Diego.

What To Wear In San Diego During Fall

San Diego is a dream destination during the fall months in terms of weather, pricing, and crowds. The outdoor spots are buzzing with just enough people to have fun but aren’t crowded. Average high temperatures are in the mid-70s and average low temperatures are in the low-60s. So, the San Diego apparel you pack should be all your summer essentials, as well as a few pieces to keep warm during the late nights.

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Casual Dress

A casual dress that takes you from day to night is a great item to add to your San Diego packing list no matter the season. Choose something you feel comfortable in and won’t mind spending an entire day wearing. Shopping for a new dress? Our vote goes to the Bodie Dress from the sustainable and super cute California-based brand Christy Dawn.

All you need is cute shoes the rest will come. The best way to a person's heart is through their sole.

Comfortable Sneakers

You’re probably going to do a lot of hiking, biking, and adventuring during the fall season in San Diego. Pack a pair of shoes that’ll help your feet withstand the high step count, taking you from Downtown San Diego to the coastal bluffs. 

Sneakers are San Diego clothing essentials, and your favorite California streetwear websites have pretty awesome collections. No time to browse? The lightweight A-Line - Pointe sneakers from Manhattan Beach-based Skechers feel like walking on clouds!

This cardigan from DOEN was made for drinking pumpkin spice lattes. Photo courtesy of DOEN.

Light Jacket or Cardigan

While fall weather in San Diego is pretty temperate, you’ll still need a lightweight jacket or cardigan when you stay out late evenings. Add the Parker Jacket from DOEN to your San Diego clothing checklist and you'll be feeling warm and looking chic all season long.

San Diego Style in Winter

San Diego might just have the most pleasant winters out there. You get a mix of warmer days with blue skies and sunshine that mirrors summer, as well as days that feel cool and crisp, calling for your favorite warm sweater. Layering is the name of the game during winters in San Diego, but don’t be surprised if you see people out in shorts on the warmer days. 

Life is better in denim jeans, wearing it easily can take you everywhere. Fashion fades but denim jeans are eternal.

Pair of Jeans

Is it just us or is the notion of having too many pairs of jeans incomprehensible to you as well? A pair of 501 Original Fit Jeans from Levi’s seems to be a part of everyone’s outfit rotation, so you may as well add one to your San Diego style. Come chilly and lazy winter days, you’re going to reach for this classic pair time after time and get compliments every time.

Calling the chiller fall temperatures "sweater weather" makes them so much more enjoyable. Photo courtesy of Reformation.

Sweaters and Sweatshirts

A good sweater is the easiest way to transform a summer outfit into winter. Throw it on top of a slinky dress, a cute mini skirt, or a pair of casual jeans, and you’re good to go! If you’re still unsure of what to wear in San Diego in the sweater department, we’re crushing hard on the Fruit Intarsia Regenerative Wool Sweater from Reformation.

Boots

It doesn’t have to rain or snow all day for you to put on a cool pair of boots. They’re comfortable, warm, and can elevate any outfit in an instant, so why not make them an item on your San Diego packing list? Lug sole boots and cowboy boots are both very much in trend this season in the footwear department, and Jeffrey Campbell has both styles in different colors and styles. 

What to wear in San Diego during the summer months is mostly beachwear, shorts, short sleeves, and sweaters in the evenings.

San Diego Apparel for Summertime Fun

Southern California style is quite universal during the summertime. Beach days, road trips, and outdoor activities determine what to wear in Southern California most of the time, so pack accordingly. Are you planning on lounging oceanside most of your days? Pack your best beach outfits. Can’t wait to hit the best trails at sunrise? Pack your favorite loungewear and athleisure looks; just make sure to keep things light and practical.

It’s not summer unless you’re tanning on the beach in your swimsuit. Photo courtesy of Inamorata.

Swimwear

Do you need another swimsuit? Probably not. Do you want another swimsuit? Well, how can you say “no” to something as cute as the Santa Fe suit from Inamorata? This makes a great addition to your San Diego packing list not only because it’s super cute, but it’s also a one-piece, which means you can wear it on your most daring adventures without worrying about a wardrobe malfunction.

Beach Cover-up

A cover-up that takes you from sands to seaside restaurants is an essential part of your San Diego apparel. After all, the last thing you want to do is spend half your day going back and forth from your hotel to change outfits. No one does cover-ups quite as well as Frankies Bikinis, and the Coco Terry Button up Shirt and Shorts are a true testament to that.

Replace your chunky boots with none other than your favorite pairs of sandals. Photo courtesy of Freda Salvador.

Sandals

The final of the summer essentials when it comes to deciding what to wear in San Diego is sandals. No, not flip-flops (unless you’re at the beach), actual sandals.

Designed in California and made in family factories in Spain and El Salvador, Freda Salvador has a cool collection of footwear featuring boots, sneakers, mules, loafers, and more. The Piper Buckle Footbed Sandal is as comfortable as it is cool and comes in two colors: a classic black and a daring silver.

What To Wear in San Diego in Spring

Spring in San Diego is a great time to visit with days that average in the high 50s to the 60s. If you visit San Diego in early spring, you’ll beat May Gray and June Gloom. Just know that spring break is a big deal here—if you get annoyed by partying college kids, you might want to pick a different time to visit.

There's just something about a pair of sunglasses that instantly makes someone look completely and utterly cool. Photo courtesy of Cult Gaia.

Sunglasses

Once springtime rolls around, the sun in San Diego peeps from behind the clouds more often. You’ll need a good pair of sunglasses to shield your eyes from the blazing California sun (and sunscreen to protect your skin) when out and about in San Diego. We’re obsessed with the bold and bright frames available at Cult Gaia, and if you’re on the hunt for a new pair of sunglasses to add to your Southern California style wardrobe, consider checking them out ASAP.

T-shirts and lightweight clothes

Last but not least, a good capsule wardrobe of essentials is necessary wherever and whenever you are. These are timeless and versatile items you wear in rotation and dress up and down easily. To shop for multiple pieces without going too far down the fast fashion rabbit hole, consider checking out California’s best thrift stores. The second-hand stores in the state are some of the best in the world—you’ll find items to add to your San Diego apparel collection quite easily for super affordable prices.

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