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How I Went Out In SF And Didn’t Go Broke

Updated: Mar 19, 2022 12:18
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The city is alive again with stylish people out and about and well dressed. Last week in San Francisco, spring was everywhere I looked. As the abbreviated days of winter give way to the unpretentiously crisp city nights of March, loose cherry blossom petals speckle the sidewalks along side where the red Chinese firecracker shards lay just one month previously. I went to a number of gatherings and events that, while on the outside look awfully glamorous, actually didn’t cost me that much. Let’s take a look at how I hack the city, and make the most of our beloved 7×7 mile town without going bankrupt.

“Rose, it seems you’re out all the time. How do you ever afford to be going to all these places?”

Once you’ve lived here a while, you start to develop shortcuts, or “hacks” to city life as I like to call them: FREE places to park, bars and restaurants staffed by dear friends, a person to call here and there to get on the list to this or that, a never ending list of FREE events, and more. Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, one does not have to pay top dollar to live well here. Let me put you on how I get around it all and live well in the best (and one of the priciest) cities in the world.

Fleetwood SF’s grand opening party showcased the shop’s city-centric wares

On Friday night, I stopped by the grand opening party of Fleetwood SF on Clement Street in the Inner Richmond. Discreetly popping up in the old Pinelli’s Flowerland space on near 7th Avenue over the fall, I was prurient to see the venerable neighborhood space transformed into something completely brand new.

Fleet Wood is a full service silkscreening shop and retail store filled to the brim with locally sourced/themed goods, and Last Week In San Francisco it was also brimming with friends and supporters who came out to the left side of town to help them celebrate.

Sarah looked amazing at the Fleet Wood grand opening fete, gaining her my City Style Honorable Mention this week

Sarah looked amazing at the Fleetwood grand opening fete, gaining her my City Style Honorable Mention this week

I love a good opening in San Francisco whether it’s at an art gallery, retail store, bar, restaurant, or whatever. There’s always interesting people to meet and network with, a themed occasion to dress festively for, interesting things to browse or look at, and excellent people watching. (my favorite)  Also, much of the time there’s FREE snacks and alcohol. (wink)

It was hard to miss Sarah’s outfit in shades of tans, browns, and pinks. Exemplifying City Girl ease, I complimented her on how cleverly she had tied the outfit together using the floral shades in her beaded bag and face mask to tie the entire look together. Sarah gets my City Style Honorable Mention this week, and thanked me for noticing her well put together outfit in the way that we do when we get dressed thinking no one will really notice. Those in the know, however, always notice, and Sarah stood out in a in a sea of flannels and fleece jackets that evening, but only in the best ways. 10/10 cold weather city style – snaps for Sarah!

Woman stands with record

DJ Lovesick aka Bonnie kept the party groovin’ with a mix of 60’s garage, soul, and psych

In your author’s opinion, it’s best to hit an opening as your first stop of the night. Usually occurring earlier in the evening during dinner hours, it’s a great springboard for the rest of your plans, including going out to dinner in San Francisco where (on weekends at least) almost everyone knows that a later, 8pm+ seating is the most ideal to avoid the coughtechcough crowds and to enjoy dining rooms with dimmer lights, louder music, relieved servers, and more elbow room city wide.

two women stand in Fleetwood laughing

All smiles inside of Fleetwood’s back screen printing room on Clement Street

Boutique and retail store openings happen much less frequently than other open house style soirees but have that same sort of congratulatory energy that an art gallery opening would have, for example. They also tend to be more family friendly, as seen as below with Ariana and Freddy who brought little Mina along with them, who was the most stylish dog I have seen in a while sporting her adorable little plaid jacket. Doggy style? I digress…

a couple and their dog stand in Fleetwood

City Dog Mina was plaid perfection at the party

I’m definitely going to go back to the Inner Richmond shop during normal business hours to check out their wares when it’s not so crowded. I found it extremely interesting that Fleetwood can be booked to do interactive, on site silk screening set ups at your job, party, etc, and I personally loved all the very giftable neighborhood themed merch they had in stock.

image looking down on My street style for the evening after a trip to the bodega: vegan leather joggers, jelly soled Superstars, & my beloved ReEdition bag

My street style for the evening after a trip to the bodega: vegan leather joggers, jelly soled Superstars, & my beloved ReEdition bag

The following night found me downtown, a neighborhood I’m almost never in despite spending four whole years attending college in a high rise on Stockton Street. It’s an even rarer occasion to be downtown after dark at all, but I found myself in the Union Square area after attempting to attend an event that was actually happening the next night. (whoops!)

sign on a shop that says Aliment

Located on the corner of Bush and Mason, Aliment has a yummy contemporary American menu and great vibes inside

This is how I stumbled into Aliment for dinner, winging it and deciding to make a night out of plans that had abruptly been pulled the plug on. Sure enough, didn’t my party instantly run into two other parties we both knew, and all of the sudden the entire restaurant had been taken over by the dozen of us all getting up from our tables, chatting, laughing and toasting.

image of salad

The steak salad at Aliment

After browsing the menu I could immediately tell Aliment was a restaurant who really catered to locals who live in the neighborhood. How? Because instead of the more standard, upselling friendly a la carte menu items you typically see in San Francisco, there was a large variety of plates you could order that were whole within themselves. Case in point: I love ordering a salad with some sort of protein on top. I don’t always care for all the rich, salty, buttery items that come non consensually on restaurant menus, and lighter options like a salad are not only more budget friendly, but also help if you want to look good in your clothes. If you enjoy cocktails, save the extra $10-15 you’d spend on an entree and put it towards a nice specialty drink. With “options” perennially being my favorite word, Aliment had a lot of them and I got a city chic dining experience that evening for the cost of take away at home.

woman stands with slacks and white top in a restaurant

Raneen was glowing in Princess Polly, Gucci, Free People, and Alexander McQueen

This is also where I met the gorgeous Raneen, glowing in her casual yet very expensive looking outfit hallmarked by those dang Alexander McQueen sneakers she had on that I keep seeing all over the city. Glittering gold jewelry from Gorjana topped off a look featuring some of the most well tailored slacks I had seen in a long time, and come to find out they were from inexpensive online brand Princess Polly. Raneen’s outfit last night was the epitome of the “high-low” aesthetic, and a testament to how great you can look if you know how to dress your body’s proportions or conversely, spending just a little bit of money to have something inexpensive tailored so it looks like it was made just for you.

goth woman outside with corset on

Missy outside of Thee Parkside adorned in Shein and Killstar

Later on in the week it was time for live music once again so I found myself at Thee Parkside to catch locally based Spiritual Cramp alongside a personal favorite band, Ways Away from Los Angeles. I immediately bumped into my friend Missy, wife of the head of local clothing company Savage People who looked adorable in her head to toe goth/punk chilly weather aesthetic ensemble.

What a lot of the Broke-Ass Stuart readers don’t know about me is that I am also a reviewer for a major music website, so on this occasion I was in the door free of charge as I was reviewing the show. Now, I am definitely not implying that everyone has hook ups and connections, nor that all your hobbies and special interests should be commodified, but if you have connections, use them! Almost everyone has some sort of hook ups, connections, or access to something in the city, so don’t be shy about calling in favors when gas is nearly $6 a gallon… we all have to stick together here folks. If you were ever going to hit up someone who can put you on, now is the time to do it as inflation is not our friend but after the past two years we’ve all had we cannot and will not be forced to stay at home anymore if we can’t help it. Just be sure to return all favors given, and then some… it keeps the karma of it all in balance.

woman in festival concert ready outfit in a top by Shein and pants from Urban Outfitters

Isabella was festival concert ready in a top by Shein and pants from Urban Outfitters

I rarely ever stack plans on the same evening, unless it’s a special occasion like someone’s birthday requiring us to go from location to location. Therefore, to save money, I usually will not go out to dinner the same night I attend a show. With gas, drinks, random things like spontaneous merch purchases all adding up quickly, I prefer to eat at home beforehand and maybe grab something quick or fun late night afterwards. I was peckish after the gig, so you know I had to hit up Jack In the Box for onion rings with ranch and a ginger lime Sprite.

Here I found a little baddie – City Girl Isabella, who, was either on her way to or from something fun based off of how she was dressed. At that hour at when I was her age I was putting my makeup on, but at that hour at my age I am usually taking my makeup off, so who knows really. With bobbly double top knots, a bold tie front crop top, black and white block stripe Urban Outfitters jeans, (that I personally wanted to go and buy afterwards) and a brand new pair of combat boots, I don’t know what party, concert, or rave Isabella had just come from but I wanted to go back with her to wherever it was because she looked like she was about to have a lot of fun. City Style is everywhere you look, at any hour, even in fast food restaurants and I’m so glad Isabella was bold enough to strike a pose – despite multiple onlookers, to share her outfit with us. I’d share my onion rings with you any day Isabella!

Image of your author, serving springtime romance in Sugarthrillz, Kate Spade, and Gucci. One of these days I'll actually make it in to upgrade my phone

Your author, serving springtime romance in Sugarthrillz, Kate Spade, and Gucci. One of these days I’ll actually make it in to upgrade my phone

And finally, I was long overdue to catch up with my fabulous and wonderful friend Dudley, a dapper and dashing man who reminds me very much of Andre Leon Talley with his bold, endearing, and charming personality and a dashing, dapper sense of style. We joke that we are San Francisco’s younger, queerer versions Anna Wintour and ALT, (not really tho) and on Sunday we got together at one of my favorite dining institutions in San Francisco: beloved French Brasserie Absinthe for cocktails, oysters, and fashion watching on what was a beautiful late weekend afternoon in Hayes Valley.

Absinthe's famous oysters mignonette paired nicely with an emerald green velvet Dionysus bag and honey bee sunglasses by Gucci 

Absinthe’s famous oysters mignonette paired nicely with an emerald green velvet Dionysus bag and honey bee sunglasses by Gucci

Now, what I say is, if you’re going to go to an expensive restaurant and it’s not a special occasion to celebrate, by all means eat first at home before you go! Not only will you not get as tipsy, but making mid afternoon plans for grazing snacks and drinks is the perfect way to participate in fine dining without a bill costing you hundreds of dollars. By meeting at 5PM I was able to have a full meal at home first, then indulge in oysters with pomme frites and the best garlic aioli in town while catching up with my dear friend. It also gave me a chance to throw on a beautiful dress embroidered all over with delicate spring flowers I hadn’t pulled out of my closet since last year. A pistachio green flowy trench coat with shirred sleeves, Nasty Gal block heels with tiny buckles cascading up the fronts of my calves, and classic color coordinating Gucci accessories rounded out the look.

It was a busy Symphony Sunday at Absinthe, and I just knew I’d see some incredible outfits by placing myself in such a target rich location but in between Dudley and I chatting an giggling about everything from travel to dating to the new Fall Winter 2022 lines just shown at New York Fashion Week, it was hard to catch all the Symphony goers and they hurried in and out the doors, cramming down food and drinks before they had to dash down the street and make the Conductor’s first wag of stick on time.

Gia couldn't not be my City Style Look of the Week in a bold head to toe look by Cos

Gia couldn’t not be my City Style Look of the Week in a bold head to toe look by Cos

Thank goodness I bumped into Gia at the Maitre D’s podum in an astonishingly chic but demurely avant garde head to toe look in Scandinavian designer Cos. Cos, she explained are the same head designers of H&M who have created a secondary line, focusing on higher end capsule wardrobe pieces, similar to APC. Gia’s daffodil yellow plush coat was breathtaking and her decision to combine it with edgy matching gray accessories from the same line crowns her my City Style Look of the Week! It’s hard to find individuals with aesthetics as sophisticated as Gia’s outside of New York and Paris, and when I go out shooting street style it’s women like Gia who I want to bump into every single time because of how well they honor themselves by dressing in whatever they like most, and pulling it off with much gusto to boot. It takes a lot of grace and grit to survive in this town, and I can tell that Gia is an embodiment of both with her bold fashion aesthetic that is ultimately self pleasing – the best way to dress. Her effort has not gone unnoticed.

It’s true, San Francisco can break you in many ways but at the end of the day, it does not have to break the bank. By carefully choosing where to go, at what hour, and on what day, you can strategically hack San Francisco by staying in front of both what you intend to spend, and where you go. If you pull some strings and call in favors along the way you can experience city life in this town without the “FOMO” we all feel when rent is coming up and we have to say no to social invitations and doing things in general. Most importantly, you have to be grateful for what you already have. Can’t swing that fancy restaurant this month? Then get dressed up and go out to Chinese food at your favorite dive on Jackson street. Who cares? You’ll stand apart from the crowd, great photos will be taken, yummy food will be eaten, and amazing memories will be made. That’s what counts – doing the things you won’t get a chance to do over again. And remember: life is too short to wear a bad outfit.

Want me to cover your store, restaurant, art gallery or other opening in San Francisco?
Comment below and I’ll get you covered!

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Rose Eden

Rose Eden

Rose Eden is a punk rock grown up fashion, culture, music, and satire writer residing in San Francisco on the Upper West Side. She is an Editor at Large at New Noise Magazine, and Out Front Magazine. She additionally contributes to, and, with a fashion column, City Style, on