16 In Styling Tips

Bay Area Jean Jacket Styling Tips

Jean jacket styling
Jean jacket weather lives on

The rains came and they’re coming again. There’s a chill in the fresh air and that means one thing: It’s a great day for jean jacket styling!

You may be wearing a jean jacket today. If it’s hotter than blazes in your area, a jean jacket keeps you from freezing when the A/C is cranked up indoors. A jean jacket may be packed in your suitcase for upcoming travel; one with inside pockets is one of my favorite traveling companions.

Speaking of traveling, every guide book to the Bay Area should be speaking about bringing layers, but if yours doesn’t, take it from me: You’ll need layers all summer long if you travel to San Francisco, and a jean jacket could be one of those layers.

A jean jacket is a go-to layer

The hardest thing to learn—and I’ve been living in the Bay Area for 37 years now—is to think layers, especially May through October. If you open the trunk of my car right now, you’d find a minimum of a cape and a big pashmina scarf. And the reason that’s all you’ll find there is that I still find it hard to believe that it can be hot in Sonoma and by the time I get to San Francisco it’s dropped 15 or 20 degrees, the fog has rolled in, and I need to add multiple layers. There should be a warm coat in my trunk as well!

Mark Twain was credited with this line: The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

Believe it!

Jean jackets for function and style

Jean jacket layering

Jean jackets are the perfect neutral. They can go over or under anything. In this recent outfit, I wore a polka dot silk blouse with my fringed Eileen Fisher ivory jeans from last year. I added my golden AGL sandals and felt so classically chic. I love adding a jean jacket to my Eileen Fisher ivory jeans from last year. I added the jean jacket and achieved a level of casualness or friendliness that suits me well.

The pearlized blond leather Per Se coat was the perfect add-on. The coat came off and on all afternoon as I adjusted for the weather fluctuation.

Jean jacket styling in Mill Valley

Jean jacket styling

I’ve cautioned you that San Francisco can get cold and foggy. Residents often flee the city to find warmth in the summer. But let me explain something about the weather on the other side of the bridge.

When you cross the Golden Gate Bridge heading north into Marin County, the first town you come to is Sausalito. Right next to it is Mill Valley to the west and Tiburon to the east. Hang a left into Mill Valley and go to the center of town, which is where I’m sitting in that red railway car. That spot right there could be VERY chilly.

For one of my clients who lives in Mill Valley, we have a whole separate section in her summer wardrobe binder called Mill Valley Outfits. Every one of those outfits is layered for warmth.

In this next photo, across the street from the red railway car, I’m much more comfortable adding my blond Per Se leather coat over the jean jacket again.

I might also want to add my peachy-colored pashmina around my neck. And this is the beauty of layering. Yes, it could warm up in Mill Valley; it happens. If it does, I can start taking layers off. I’d start with the scarf that would be around my neck, and then I’d remove the leather jacket. I’d be okay with the jean jacket but if need be, I can remove that too and still be dressed well.

Jean jacket styling in San Anselmo

Jean jacket outfit in San Anselmo

Here’s a jean jacket outfit in San Anselmo. San Anselmo is west off of Highway 101 North, a few more miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, and it can get really warm there. You won’t get fog there. This picture was taken at about 6:30 pm on a Friday. Russ and I had been working on a project that you’ll hear more about soon (think She Shed) and we decided to go to dinner on San Anselmo Avenue instead of fighting Friday night traffic to Sonoma.

This shirt I’m wearing is very thin. While working on that project earlier in the afternoon, the jean jacket was off and the shirt sleeves were rolled up. The little scarf was probably off as well. But when we went to dinner I added both things and was glad I had them because the restaurant was chilly.

Styling with jean jacket

I’m getting questions about styling for heat in other parts of the country and a jean jacket as thick as this one wouldn’t work for that. When I do need a thinner layer, I still go for the jean jacket style only in lightweight linen. I’m not there yet, but I’ll show you styled dresses and summer outfits using lighter layers soon. But if you’re coming to the Bay Area this summer for a visit, you know what to do!

Are you a fan of jean jackets? Do you travel with them? Tell us all about it!


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    May 21, 2019 at 4:52 am

    Fog is cold! I have moved from Marin County ( 50+ years) to Sacramento area, which is much hotter 100+. I still have coats in my trunk! And it’s hard to believe I can wear “ summer” clothes….. I never owned “ summer “ clothes before!

    • Reply
      June 5, 2019 at 10:02 am

      You’ve put a smile on my face! Yes, you have a whole other version of summer in Sacramento! Apparently, the warmest part of San Francisco is the Mission. My friend moved there and said she had to create a whole other wardrobe because it’s so much warmer there than out on the Avenues.

  • Reply
    May 21, 2019 at 7:03 am

    Such great tips for the Bay Area. I’m an hour northeast of San Francisco and we need layers this year for sure but boy in summer months it’s blasted hot 90-100. I have larger upper arms and often feel constricted in heavier Jean jackets. Would love a pist on lighter weight options. Also some looks for we preppy gals would be fun! Love your post. Always an enjoyable read.

    • Reply
      Eva Popovich
      May 21, 2019 at 9:06 am

      I’m not sure if this falls into the category of preppy, but I love the little scarves Brenda wears. They do keep you a few degrees warmer. And as a trade off for a jeans jacket I also have several light sweaters and cropped sweaters, both of which can fit the preppy look. Cardigans are easy to wear and come in many lengths.

    • Reply
      June 5, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Thanks, Kathysue. I’m making notes of your requests! My best find for lighter weight versions of a jean jacket is a linen jean jacket by Eileen Fisher. It’s in this post about wearing a summer dress three ways: http://www.brendakinsel.com/anatomy-of-an-outfit-wearing-a-summer-dress-three-ways/
      I’ve been on the lookout for this type of lightweight jacket because it really is a summer winner!

  • Reply
    May 21, 2019 at 7:21 am

    What brands are your jackets? I have a hard time finding one that is comfortable. Love your pins!

  • Reply
    Linda B
    May 21, 2019 at 7:27 am

    These tips are also the kinds of things I am thinking about for my impending summer in Oregon. You are confirming that my idea that my jean jacket can be a huge anchor is correct.

    I even had to have it on much of the day yesterday in Tucson. It should be 100 by now but we are having a real cool snap. Yesterday it may not have even reached 70, and it rained off and on. We are all so confused but grateful for the reprieve from the summer heat!

  • Reply
    May 21, 2019 at 8:24 am

    You always inspire me Brenda! Love all of the pins on your jean jacket. Can’t wait to add some to mine.

  • Reply
    May 21, 2019 at 8:27 am

    I live in Oregon and wear jean jackets a lot. I have 3 different blue jean jackets, a red velvet one, a white one{light weight for summer) and a small black and white check one. I love to layer a shirt and pullover sweater under one when its cold and just a shirt under one as the weather warms up. In summer I always have a light weight one in the car for the restaurant with the cold air blasting when its hot outside. They are a staple in my wardrobe.

  • Reply
    Eva Popovich
    May 21, 2019 at 9:02 am

    When I left the Bay Area to live in Saint Petersburg, Florida I thought I would put my jeans jackets behind me (I have a medium shade blue, a white one, and also a denim button-up shirt that I consider in the same category.) But believe me, Florida has some extreme air conditioning! I keep my jeans jacket with me when I go to restaurants, theaters, concerts — all sorts of places where the AC is cranked up.
    And my jeans jacket always travels with me, no matter where we go except perhaps the smaller Polynesian Islands where air conditioning is not used so much.
    I would be lost without this important wardrobe anchor!

  • Reply
    May 21, 2019 at 10:21 am

    I want to know more about your jean jacket with interior pockets for travel! I want/need one of those because we travel quite a bit and would love to take a casual jacket with interior pockets with me to Scandinavia this Fall. Details, please!

  • Reply
    May 21, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    I’d love to hear about styling a jean jacket with jeans. I don’t like to wear a jacket and jeans that are the same shade of blue jean blue, but I wonder if there are any tips you might have to make a jean jacket/jean combination less boring?

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    June 5, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    I recently went to Sydney from our colder climate of Castlemaine Victoria , Australia, in Autumn.. I travelled with my white jean jacket with a sweet frill on it down the front. It was such a perfect addition to my travel outfits.. Even though I only own one jeans jacket, I find it invaluable . You look beautiful as usual, Brenda.. Sending love from Oz

  • Reply
    Kathie Adams
    July 10, 2019 at 5:19 am

    I live about 30 miles south of Duluth, MN. I experience the same weather variations you describe! It can be 25 degrees cooler in Duluth than at my home!!! I have lived here for 23 years now and still underestimate how cool (read COLD) it will be along gorgeous Lake Superior! I have learned to layer, layer, layer. And you have helped me do that stylishly!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Hi. Wish I’d read this before coming to San Francisco 2 weeks ago. We had to buy extra layers. That fog is chilly and can hang round all day. Had a great 4 day visit though. Loads to see.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Nice tips! These are best ways to rock with jean jackets in bay area. I like this article so much. Thanks and keep sharing.

  • Leave a Reply