06/28/2013 12:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Bernal Heights of Fashion

Paula Mangin


Rooftops of Bernal Heights, San Francisco. Photo by Paula.

As Jslow moves west to Los Angeles, I am looking to also move west -- to the western "suburbs" of San Francisco.

I've lived in my current Nob Hill flat for sixteen years, and after getting a $20,000 estimate to re-carpet the stairs, hallway and living room in a magnificent Missoni floral pattern, I realized how ridiculous it was to try to make something beautiful out of something that just no longer fit.

This flat, my home, was something off "the sale rack" before real estate went crazy during the first dot-com bubble. It was a steal, just too good to pass up and my ex-husband and I needed a place to live after getting owner-evicted from our Telegraph Hill apartment.

This home has allowed me to weather depression, divorce, a down economy that downsized-me to a home office and a blown appendix. It has also welcomed the love of my life and two beautiful sets of shelter cats. But it also houses ghosts from parts of my past I'd rather forget, and fails to deflect the drunken shrieks of the twenty-somethings that have taken root on the hill. It's time to go.


Elsie Street, Bernal Heights, San Francisco. Photo by Paula.

As we explore neighborhoods and homes, analogies to fashion spring to mind. I guess it's apparent that my life feels far from fashion these days (see recent baseball analogy post here.)

Each neighborhood is like a different fashion brand, with it's own feel, image, price-tag, following. Cow Hollow is Tory Burch, Pacific Heights, Prada. Once you love a brand or neighborhood, you tend to love most of their pieces or homes. But sometimes you can fall in love with a piece, or home, from a brand or neighborhood you may not love -- at least not yet.

With this in mind, I ride a hot, crowded 49 bus past the Civic Center, along the edge of the Tenderloin, through the Mission and out to Bernal Heights to see a small victorian. Bernal Heights is sort of the Rachel Comey of neighborhoods: cute, sturdy, indie, cool. A neighborhood, and brand, I want to like but have never felt quite comfortable in. But I'm trying to keep an open mind and decide to "try it on" and see how I feel.

So as I try on Bernal Heights, here is some prime Rachel Comey real estate that just may suit me. It just goes to show that you never know. Which is really the beauty of the hunt.


Rachel Comey outfit: 1: Punched leather tote, available at 2: Sunglasses. 3: Tallow Jacket. 4: Punched hole leather shoes. 5: Altoy Skirt. 6: Harp top. All available at LaGarconne here.

For more fashion and life musings, please visit Blank Stare, Blink where we give father time the finger.