To be honest, I didn’t wind up doing a whole lot of shopping in San Francisco, which is probably why I’m only just now getting around to posting about it. Not that there’s any shortage of cute boutiques there, but it’s a city that’s less about the retail experience than the lifestyle experience, and all the you totally have tos in SF have to do with food: you totally have to go to Acme Bread and Cowgirl Creamery. And Tartine on Valencia. And if you miss out on espresso at Blue Bottle, you will have flunked San Francisco entirely.
My hotel fell under the heading of “Corporate Crunchy” (which I think may actually be a new hotel trend—a place I considered in Santa Monica offered both multiple conference rooms and preferential parking for hybrid vehicles). In addition to a lobby bursting with Suits, there were morning yoga classes, roof deck soaking tub treatments, and canned oxygen in the minibar. (I had to try the oxygen, of course: It was like inhaling a gust of very fresh, quite expensive wind.)
As for the shopping: I did manage to get in a stroll around Hayes Valley, which has lots of quite cool and charming stores, many of which are nicely indie in spirit. I loved Reliquary, a sort of NoCal version of Love Adorned (no surprise, given that owner Leah Bershad is an alum of its sister shop, New York Adorned). They don’t have e-commerce—boo!—but if a sophisticated ethnic aesthetic is at all up your alley, it’s a you totally have to. Also, I was very happy to visit Acrimony, a store whose commerce site I’ve browsed maybe a hundred times. It’s definitely the edgiest shop in the neighborhood, and it skews young, but there’s plenty for a girl who’s not especially excited by high-waisted short-shorts to like as well. And I see stuff there I don’t see in New York or LA or anywhere else.
But of all the stores in San Francisco, it’s the mini-chain Gimmee Shoes that I most wish existed in my town. There are two on Hayes Street, and I could spend more time in both than I care to admit.
As a general rule, San Francisco is more about practical footwear than spiky and strappy, and this sensibility is very much reflected at Gimmee Shoes. It makes sense, then, that there was a solid selection from the brilliant-and-slightly-batty Chie Mihara. If you’re looking for a deeply walkable heel and aren’t averse to a little drama, she’s your girl. I love this funkily dandified pair of Mary Janes, and actually think that by the time you paired them with black tights and a quiet-ish dress, they’d add a fun little punch to your outfit, and not—as one might fear—scream LOOK WHAT I DID TO MY FEET.
Possibly the cutest pair of short rain boots I’ve ever seen.
Gimmee Shoes is Fiorentini & Baker Central. Outside of the brand’s actual Soho store, I’ve never seen such a wide selection of their comfortable, tough-but-not-too-butch boots to choose from. Back in Texas, this is what we would refer to as s**t-kickers—albiet super-extra-chic ones.