How to Dress Like a Local in San Diego

Hint: you probably don’t need to wear something like this.

So…you’re coming to San Diego and you don’t want to stick out as a tourist? Luckily for you, that’s not hard to do here. We San Diegans are a pretty casual bunch and in most cases, anything goes. It’s also perfectly fine to look like a tourist. Nobody is actually angry at you for visiting our fine city, so by all means, do what makes you happy and wear what makes you comfortable!

That being said, there are still some dos and don’ts if you really, truly want to blend in.


Wear sandals, Converse, or flip flops (Rainbows and Reef are particularly popular brands), or any shoes that came from a surf shop.

Pro Tip: If you’re in town, you have a car, and you want to really dress like a local, head to San Clemente and hit up the Rainbows Outlet to stock up on my favorite footwear for a good price. Or, you know…get them at any surf shop anywhere.

My shoes for all occasions:


Wear socks with sandals or workout shoes with jeans. Unless you want to, then do. I’m not judging.


Wear casual, comfortable clothing. Shorts, t-shirts, dresses, tank tops, jeans, and anything else that you like to wear.

Perfectly acceptable attire for most occasions:

#carlsbad #california #beach #sandiego #sandiegolife

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Wear a big t-shirt that says ‘SAN DIEGO’ on it. You clearly just bought that at a tourist shop, didn’t you?


Dress up for clubs and nice restaurants downtown. We’re not talking black tie here, but you know, fancy it up a bit.

See, we do get gussied up from time to time:

At the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare game launch party

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Show up to a fancy nightclub downtown in jeans, flip flops, and a tank top. This is OK for dive bars though, but if the place is fancy, they most likely have some sort of dress code.


Express your individuality. You’re in Southern California! If you want purple hair, dye it purple, baby! If you enjoy wearing bow ties and spiky punk bracelets, nobody is going to bat an eye. You do you!

Not out of the ordinary. And yes, I’m 80’s Madonna. 


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Worry too much about what everybody else is wearing. Seriously, you do you!


Feel free to wear your workout clothes in most places. At lunch, at the beach, in the bank, at the grocery store, or actually working out. Sometimes I even wear workout clothes to work. It’s all-purpose clothing.

Seriously. This is me at work on a “fancy” day:

Hanging out with my good friend at work.

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Dress up too much for casual places. If I see you in high heels and a fancy dress at my weekend brunch spot or the grocery store, I’m going to stare and wonder why you’re dressed up so much.

Look at this freaking hipster:

My hat likes to fly off in the wind.

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Bring a wet suit for the ocean. The water is COLD here! (Really…it is. The current is coming down from Alaska. Brrrrrrr.)


Just wear your swimsuit in the water, unless you like being cold. In which case…proceed, my friend.

I had no plans of exercising:


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Wear comfortable shoes when you know you’ll be walking a lot. There’s nothing more ridiculous than watching somebody in stilettos struggle to walk up all the hills at the San Diego Zoo or limp down the sidewalk by the beach. I’ve seen it. Don’t be that person.

I was actually going to a fancy place this day:


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Wear stilettos when you need to walk. Seriously, don’t. Just put on some comfortable shoes and actually enjoy yourself. Your feet will thank you later.

P.S. This article was written purely in good fun. Seriously, wear whatever you want. We don’t care here. Except at the clubs…I was serious about those dress codes.


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