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November 4th, 2009 Erin Flesch, Ethan Smith | Special Section Stories
 

Portland Style Then & Now

What’s gone. What’s Back. What never left.

     
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Gone


Indian jewelry
Beadwork, turquoise and silver—like that sold at Quintana’s Indian Arts Crafts (139 NW 2nd Ave.) 35 years ago—were hot culture-appropriating accessories in ’74. Today Indian jewelry is out, but tattoos of Pacific Northwest tribal art are wrapping forearms with increasing regularity.

Fur
Less murder than glamour in 1974. Paul Koch Volkswagen tossed in a rabbit fur wrap with every VW Rabbit, while Hamilton Furs pushed minks as fashion and financial sense. “Dollars are losing their value, but furs are increasing their value,” claimed a 1974 ad. But in modern, PETA-loving Portland, protesters have driven all but one fur retailer out of downtown. Besides mink depreciates sharply when splattered with red paint.

Turtleneck-blazer combo
The ’70s were sleazy. Cocaine, Nixon, Burt Reynolds, and this look, as advertised by Rosenblatts in a ‘74 issue of WW. Nothing says “I’ve got something to hide” like a turtleneck. Hickey? Rash? Neck tat?

Back


Mustaches
In ‘74, fur was ubiquitous on PDX upper lips, not the exclusive ironic property of Rontoms regulars it is today. Politicians, your dad and many a WW employee sported cookie-dusters.

Cowboy shirts
Pearl snaps, Western yokes, a steely look toward the horizon—cowboys will always be a part of American cool. But keep it classic, unlike the shirt Rosenblatts was pushing in the second-ever issue of WW: “The Western look…styled to an outdoor man’s taste…cotton suede that looks incredibly like the real thing.” Faux suede for the faux man. Today, the shirts are stylishly back, but the ironic bolo tie is popping up with alarming regularity.

Thin headbands
Worn across the forehead for sheer fashion’s sake, these headbands are like the original Livestrong bracelets—but without the whole fighting cancer thing. A bit hippie love child, a bit roller-disco queen, and all the way back in style.

Never Left


Converse All-Stars
Always, now and forever. In 1974, G.I. Joe’s was slinging these sneakers at $15 a pair. Today, they run $40+, and Joe’s has folded, but every wardrobe still needs a pair of Chucks.

Graphic tees
The T-shirt-and-jeans look came into its own in the ’70s, and that effortless style will probably never die. These days, a thriving vintage scene means Portlanders are often wearing tees straight from that golden era of screenprinted cotton crewnecks.

 
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