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Fashion on the Muni

Ken Richardson

Mass-Transit Microcosm: Like any city's transit system, the
much-reviled Muni offers the best place to observe
San Francisco's fashion sense.

Taking transit to the trends

By Serena Puga

Fashion is enough to make one fret about leaving the house, much less schlepping out to the bus stop. But really, the best place to observe a city's fashion sense is on public transportation. Like the much-reviled Muni itself, the whole system is a microcosm of the city. Noe Valley falls away, the Mission emerges. Mission becomes Lower Haight becomes the Fillmore. And in between the cracks are the people who make up the many layers of San Francisco life, from the bad-hair days to platform shoes, tight acid-washed jeans to designer suits, baggy pants with exposed boxer shorts to big black boots and trendy, fuzzy-backpacked teens.

24 Divisadero is the best place to observe your driver stopping the bus to pick up the fried chicken special at Popeye's on Divisadero. No lie. Riding this proletarian form of transport through the Castro is always interesting. Though most of the trophy boys in their CK/Gucci regalia would never be caught dead on a bus , they are fully available for your rubbernecking pleasures.

Head over to the F Market, and there you find her, resplendent in her white satin pants and flowered blazer. Toy poodle in one hand and Saks bag in the other, she is a wonder of modern hormone treatments and, ahem, corrective surgery. It's one of those only in San Francisco moments. And there they are, clutching their purchases, fannypacks at the ready and easy to spot because they are the only people wearing shorts in the middle of July.

22 Fillmore is the vehicle of choice for the blond exodus from the Marina to the Mission on weekend nights. From that little piece of La Jolla right in our own backyard, through the Fillmore/Lower Haight benchmark look of disaffected youth, to the Mission and the lonely industrial streets of Potrero hill, the 22 is peaceful home to both European cheesers in cream pantsuits and alternateen girls with blunt-cut bangs and cherry-red hair. Now that's diversity! Three pm is witness to the squirmy hormonal influx of high schoolers. Every 15-.to17-year-old girl in the city has sadly made her body the repository for dead fashion trends, with the dregs of Contempo Casuals, Wet Seal and the Limited. Don't be surprised if you see them carrying fuzzy animal backpacks.

The 40-minute-plus ride from downtown to the Western Addition on a crowded 5 Fulton leaves plenty of time to contemplate whether this trip truly qualifies as one of the five "worst ever" experiences. The post-work hour is home to many a disgruntled "suit" as well as the 20-something detail-oriented-job set in their smart, almost-designer wares. Experience different types of employment cultures riding in harmony as financial district types and stock tickers with their beepers meld with SOMA's publishing, software engineer and creative types. Ain't life grand?

9 San Bruno: Any bus that has two cars is inherently more heinous than a single-car bus. The 9 San Bruno is no exception. In this motley assortment of life forms, you're lucky if everyone is fully clothed, not hallucinating and not engaged in some sort of melee with their "neighbor." It seems people here haven't given thought to fashion in a decade or so.

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From the September 1997 issue of the Metropolitan.

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