What to Wear in Seattle During Any Season

What the Locals Wear in a City with Unpredictable Weather

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.

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.

  • 01 of 07

    Layers

    What to Wear in Seattle
    Kristin Kendle

    Seattle’s weather is famous for changing from day to day, but also 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 and a shirt underneath that. Layers allow you to customize your temperature—they also contribute to Seattle’s unique fashion sense.

  • 02 of 07

    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.

  • 03 of 07

    Boots

    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. They also look jaunty and stylish.

    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.

  • 04 of 07

    Scarves

    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.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Sunglasses

    It’s not uncommon to hear that Seattleites buy more sunglasses that 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.
  • 06 of 07

    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.

  • 07 of 07

    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