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Breaking Down the East Bay “Style”

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By Brian Scott

Fashion is an art in itself that varies by location, culture, tradition, belief, weather and even time. Simply, how we go about our daily lives plays a role in our fashion sense. Where we live dictates quite a bit about how we live and what we look like. 

The East Bay is not just a second thought to the decidedly more famous, and infamous, city of San Francisco. The vast region is home to roughly 2.5 million people, according to the 2010 census.

The area is rich in historical turning points and cultural influence. It is the birthplace of musicians, directors, artists and activists that have and continue to challenge the status quo and in a way, the fashion of the area is indicative of people who have better things to do than worry about style. Make no mistake, statements are still made in the East Bay, but they tend to favor a more nuanced, utilitarian form. Even in wealthier areas, like Palo Alto, people are less ostentatious about goods with brand names or designer wears, especially in comparison to our Southern California neighbors.

The fashion scene in the East Bay Area is super relaxed and casual.

In general, dark jeans win out over suits any time people can get away with it and heels give way to flats most of the time. The geographical enormity of the area comes with all sorts of microclimates, making it impossible to pack up seasonal wardrobes — it’s not unusual to see tank tops in the winter and hoodies on summer nights. And for some reason, yoga gear is acceptable just about everywhere in any climate.

The East Bay is less about the flare you find in San Francisco and more about what’s local — we wear our love on our sleeves. Lids, t-shirts and sweatshirts are often walking advertisements for pride in our cities, teams and local businesses.

Hoodies always win. Photo courtesy of the mooned/Flickr.

Outside of the baseball hat (and the occasional beanie or floppy straw thing), hats don’t get much attention this side of the bridge. To the horror of some visitors, flip-flops and slides are often perfectly acceptable forms of footwear year-round. The most common shoe in these parts are sneakers, in all the various shades of basketball, skater or whatever you want to call them — although, there is a definite line between Vans and Converse people. Warning: Do not confuse the two.

Of course, there are those who commit to styles day in and day out. Mixed in among the jeans, hoodie and sneaker masses, you’ll find the lingering evidence of hipsters (fairly appropriated by the techies) and hippies (ironically, Berkeley natives born in the past 30 years are largely opposed to the bell bottoms and tassels of the past).

This is a diverse place, but the beauty of the area’s differences come shining through in the plethora of accents, foods, music and creations people make. The laid back nature of the East Bay takes pressure off the need to spend hours deciding what to wear, leaving people with far more time to do cool stuff.

There’s really only one basic rule: Always dress in layers that range from fall to summer in one outfit. Aside from that, just about anything goes…but comfortable always wins.

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