Budget Fashionista Tip: When traveling, only shop at the stores you don’t have in your hometown—it will help you build a unique wardrobe.

I love San Francisco. You have the water, breathtaking views, delicious food, and when things start to get boring, a nice earthquake comes along to shake things up. San Francisco also has amazing fashions—this IS the place that invented the “Boho Chic”.

This past week I was in S.F. speaking at a large conference of business women in the bay area. Still hurting from the Internet crash of 2000, the attendees were eager for tips on how to look fabulous for less. After dishing my tips, I decided to do a little shopping (well actually, a lot). 

San Francisco is a hip budget shoppers dream city . . .

Union Square is filled with well known budget shopping stores like fashion-poser favorite Forever 21, budget staple Marshalls, and a very messy Ross. The brilliantly designed San Francisco Centre (Market Street and Fifth) houses a Nordstrom and if you recently struck gold, you can head to the nearby Saks Fifth Avenue Where to Shop in San Francisco

The above stores are fine, but you probably have them in your hometown. To get a unique San Francisco look, go straight to Haight-Ashbury. The district, known as the home of the flower power and free love movements in the 60s, is the place to find affordable, one-of-a-kind pieces for your wardrobe. Get excellent quality vintage clothes, for less than $7.00 bucks at the Goodwill on the Haight. According to one SF shopping insider, this Goodwill is one of the best places in the bay area to score vintage finds. Also try stores like Aaardvark’s (1501 Haight St 415-621-3141 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              415-621-3141      end_of_the_skype_highlighting), Buffalo Exchange, and La Rosa (1711 Haight Street, 415-668-3744) for fabulous, albeit more expensive, vintage finds.

For Boho fashions well below $50 head to Reincarnation (1784 Haight 415-221-2788). I bought two silk/rayon Indian print scoop neck tunics for $15 a piece. To complete your shopping trip down Haight visit the legendary Piedmont Boutique. The store, which looks like a drag queen’s closet, is one of the best low-end/low-cost accessories stores in the country. From plastic Wonder Woman cuffs for $2 to brass medallion earrings for $6, you’ll find great accessories and expert advice from local drag queens.

I love shoes and Haight amazing shoe stores. Shoe Biz (1422 Haight, 415-861-0313) has a wide variety of shoes from brands like Irregular Choice and Marc Jacobs at prices below $200.  Head down the street to the hot shoe designer John Fluevog store’s.

No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a trip to Chinatown. Before heading to one of the many restaurants, head to American Dreams (685 Commercial St., 415-788-3988), a great store specializing in unique Asian-inspired jewelry. Ask for the owner, Genny.

Now, how to get these purchases back home.