Seattle is a city of diversity in all ways, including what locals wear. You’ll see everything from people in suits to people in well-worn hoodies—and both ends of the spectrum are perfectly acceptable. Seattle natives tend to favor function and comfort over fashion, or fashion inspired by function, such as boots to fend off puddles, scarves to hold in warmth and dress up an outfit, and jackets to keep off the rain and express your attitude toward style.
Above all, wear what makes you happy when in Seattle. You'll blend right in with a city filled with people wearing whatever makes them happy. However, if you're seeking some tips on how to handle our unpredictable weather and rainy winters, read on because there are definitely clothing tips that will help you with our cool, damp fall and winter weather. From how to dress for a sexy night out in the winter to how to dress for the rain, we've got your back.
Whatever your personal sense of style is, here is a snapshot of what people wear in Seattle.
If you’re coming for a visit, make sure to check out my packing list for Seattle, too.
Seattle’s weather is famous for changing from day to day, but also expect plenty of changes from morning to afternoon to evening. There’s only one real way to deal with that—dress in layers. Fortunately, dressing in layers is both trendy and practical. In the spring or even in the summer, layers might mean a light sweater over a tank top, a jacket or hoodie that can easily peel off when temperatures rise or go back on if it starts to rain, or even a winter coat with a lighter sweater underneath. Layers allow you to customize your temperature, but they also allow you to switch up your indoor-outdoor looks if you so choose.
Hoodies and Jackets with Hoods
You’ll see hoodies on people of all ages. Hoodies in various forms—cute hoodies, outdoorsy hoodies, old ratty hoodies, hoodies with stylish touches, sweatshirt-style hoodies. Hoodies and other jackets with hoods are practical in a city that gets regular sprinkles. Part of the reason (most of the reason) hoods are so popular is the rain. Seattleites don’t commonly carry umbrellas as hooded jackets and sweatshirts are a lot more practical. Putting up a hood is a lot quicker than putting up an umbrella—and hoods are also much easier to deal with when the fall and winter winds kick up. However, if you really want to bring an umbrella, we won't judge you...too much. In fact, if what you're looking for is a way to stand out a bit and show off your sense of style, an umbrella might just make the perfect fashion accessory.
You’ll see plenty of tennis shoes and flats and business shoes in Seattle, but you’ll also see a lot of boots. Again, it comes down to function intertwining with fashion. You can wear flats or tennis shoes with mesh in them, but from September to April, rain is common. Rain does not go well with flats or tennis shoes with mesh in them. Boots allow you to walk through the rain and puddles with confidence and ease. Boots allow you to go on a good hike in any weather (assuming they're hiking boots). Boots also can look jaunty and stylish. If you're looking for what to wear for a big night out in the fall or winter, a look with boots is the way to go - pair them with a skirt, slacks, leggings or whatever you wish. Boots are versatile and complement any look.
During the cooler months, long socks also can make a big difference. Because the air can be moist and cool, the chill can be cutting even when it's not that cold. Long socks work great with boots, but also increase your comfort by leaps and bounds on a chilly day.
Scarves are popular in Seattle and surrounding cities for most of the year. They’re warm, they’re cozy, but they’re also pleasantly stylish. Get a scarf in an exciting color or pattern and help bring some color to Seattle’s dreary winters. Scarves and boots also work pretty well together for an evening outfit if that little black dress doesn't look so appealing when it's 40 degrees and raining.
It’s not uncommon to hear that Seattleites buy more sunglasses than anyone else in the country. Why? Because we only need them for a few months per year and not at all after that—so we lose them and have to buy more. Sunglasses are a popular accessory on sunny days in Seattle any time of year.
Shorts and Short-Sleeve Shirts
If you see any sign of the sun, disregard all advice above and wear short sleeves and shorts regardless of the temperature. This is how most Seattleites roll since, honestly, we don’t get a lot of hot days each year. If there’s a sunny day in May and it’s still 60-some degrees, hoards of Seattle natives will head out to area parks, waterfronts and green spaces in summer gear, ready to soak up some vitamin D. However, if you're from a warmer, sunnier place, and 60 degrees still strikes you as a bit chilly, you won't be out of place at all in a sweater or jacket.
If It Snows...
It doesn't often snow in Seattle, but when it does or if you're visiting during a winter when snow is in the forecast, make sure to wear shoes with traction. This applies anytime the ground gets icy anywhere, but Seattle (especially downtown Seattle) has so many hills and inclines that shoes with good tread on them will help you avoid taking a spill.
Also check out: Christmas shopping in Seattle