Monday, July 30, 2007

Embracing the Black

One noticeable feature of life in San Francisco is that everyone wears black. Black slacks. sweaters, coats, umbrellas, shoes, handbags, even fancy dress balls - if it can be black, it is. This is a puzzle to me and has been from my first days here 12 plus years ago. What is it with black that's so enchanting to San Franciscans?

Maybe it's the sophisticated image that black projects? Perhaps it's a legacy of the Beatniks of the '50s for which San Francisco is famous? Could it be the obsession with seeming slimmer than one actually is, especially after twelve years of eating all the delights available to denizens of the Bay area? Whatever the reason, San Franciscans wear lots and lots of black.

My friend the Evil Empress, for example, tells me that she is only wearing black until something darker comes along. She even owns a big black dog.

Being one who adores color, I have always felt a little out of place in San Francisco's fashion scene. When my (admittedly antiquated) fashion sense was being formed, women did have a "little black dress" to wear to cocktail parties and men had black tuxedos or sometimes a black suit for funerals but no one would ever wear black to a wedding. In fact, my friend W's grandmother so completely disapproved of her daughter's choice in husbands that she attended the wedding dressed from head to toe in black, complete with black veil, black gloves and black-edged handkerchief; the use of funeral clothes at a wedding made an emphatic statement.

In San Francisco, however, she'd have simply been in style; I see recently nothing but black dresses at weddings. Often, even the wedding party is dressed entirely in black. As I said, it's a puzzle.

I've begun to realize, however, that for whatever reason, this darkness is not a passing phase. Any fashion that endures for 12 plus years is clearly a part of the local identity, like blue jeans proclaiming American citizenship, or wooden shoes Dutch origin. Because I'm beginning to feel like a native, it's time I embraced the Black.

So, when My Beloved needed some new threads and I happened to see a guy on Market Street on day dressed like this, I thought, "Man, MB would look great in that!" And, he does, don't you think? The blue jeans match his eyes and, man, that black is so cool! Easy to embrace the Black when MB is inside it!


Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Aw, no. I mean, yeah, MB looks great... But. Lose the jacket! We are even cooler than jackets nowadays.
(Well, I can say that because I don't have a job. I suppose I don't even have a clue, so ignore me.)

Monday, July 30, 2007  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookie, you've lived in SF long enough to know it's _fatal_ to lose the jacket in summer in SF - you'll freeze! :-)

Monday, July 30, 2007  
Blogger Dagny said...

As a Bay Area native, I have to point out that sometimes we suffer for fashion. Summers during my college days, one could often hear my mother yelling, "Aren't you going to put a coat on?" as I was heading out the door to whatever club South of Market was in at the time. Just like I would wear a leather jacket in 90 degree weather because it completed the outfit. Might explain why I was frequently sick. The thing is that your body gets used to going around without a jacket.

Oh, and when I was in college in San Diego in the 80s, a friend from L.A. asked, "What is it with all of you San Francisco girls and wearing black all the time? I mean it looks good but I'm just wondering." Didn't have an answer then and still don't have one. Then again I have started wearing colors with my black. Started the habit after women from a certain neighborhood in SF started wearing black when they went out. Prior to this time, they typically wore pastels and neutrals. I had to start wearing colors so I could stand out from them.

Monday, July 30, 2007  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Dagny, thank you for the insights into the SF Black thing. I haven't yet shed my jackets so I guess I'm not yet a "native." But, I have started adding black accents to my colorful wardrobe, so there's hope for me.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007  

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