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April 2nd, 2003 Elizabeth Dye | Special Section Stories
 

WHAT IS PORTLAND "STYLE"?

Stylish Portlanders on what makes Portland...well, so Portland.

     
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Women's Fashion
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Street Style NEW YORK HAS SARAH JESSICA PARKER; LOS ANGELES HAS THE COORS TWINS. But where do locals turn to find the essence of Portland style? We asked the bright lights in our creative firmament to step into WW's hermetically sealed style lab and dedicate their wattage to defining our local look. After weeks of exhaustive clinical trials, heated confabs and unintelligible scrawls on the white board, here are their conclusions:

"Portland style is all about having a sense of humor and dry feet. With so many fantastic designers turning out one-of-a-kind creations in boutiques all over the east side, there isn't any reason to look like a cookie-cutter from the mall. Portland is the amazing place where wearing a vintage Lilly Pulitzer skirt and beat-up Converse works just as well as sporting Sigerson Morrison flats and a Pendleton shirt. The mixture of old and new, practical and quirky, is ageless and completely unique."

--Katie Miller Paul, designer, Pom Pom Girl Designs

"There's a sense of freedom in Portland's fashion scene. You can wear what you like without catching a lot of flack--it's not so uptight that it stifles experimentation. (But) I don't see Portland really following a particular trend--there are a lot of young creative people living here, a lot of individuality, which keeps it fresh for the most part. And not only are there a lot of talented local designers, but it's always exciting to see how much support turns out for the local fashion shows."

--Coco Corral, jewelry designer, Loving Anvil

"Portland style is REI meets Dolce & Gabbana. We are the forest people, who look good."

--Justin Lowe, filmmaker

"The vibe here is pure eclectica. It's the combinations that make P-town's style interesting. Only in Portland can button-downs co-exist with goth garb, hippie threads and indie-rocker haircuts. Acceptance prospers here: People can dress as individuals without being gawked at. A cashmere sweater, an Italian suit, Kangol caps and thrift-store '70s picks all feel comfortable together in the same room."

--Gabe Kean, graphic designer and art director, Born Magazine

"Portland style does not appreciate designer labels that are usually cherished in other fashion conscious cities. But designer labels can be acceptable if they are discreet and paired with something 'down home.' The local fashion community makes a conscious effort to promote popular style without bowing to it. And for that I am thankful, because now I can wear heels to work--with old jeans, of course.

--Julie Hosler, marketing director, Curiosity Group

"There are no rules here. That's one of the great things about this city. People do what they want. You don't have to be a victim to high fashion here."

--Sandra R. Haugan, hair designer

"Portland is ruled by strippers, artists, musicians, hipsters and the rock-and-roll crowd, so you can imagine how cool everyone must dress here. You have the gothic vinyl fetish crowd to your Bettie Page cheesecake pinup girl walking down Hawthorne. You even get the modern flower child that knows the definition of cool: dreadlocks, nagchampa and patchouli oil will always be in fashion. You may even see an occasional suit and tie looking very hip in that Reservoir Dogs kind of way. You cannot forget about your punk rockers who sport mohawks, leather jackets, pierced and tattooed flesh covering most of their bodies, and Doc Martens boots. Portland is a melting pot of cool, hip fashion. For anyone who says otherwise, they obviously have not visited our cool little city!"

--Zero & Zen, models, a.k.a. the Porcelain Twinz

"PDX style equals laid-back and sassy. Always on the prowl, P-town fashionistas and fashionistos alike look for comfort (read: my favorite Joe Jeans) with a little bit of flair (read: my fave Manolos). Portland is all about accessorizing--jeans and a cute white button-up, with a sassy hat and necklace from a local artist. The great thing is that anything goes here."

--Girlfriday, sex columnist

"Portland's style distinction lies in the details. Layers--insurance against the spontaneous weather patterns. Color--are you a black-gray-red person or a denim-khaki or a fuchsia-chartreuse? Everyone owns a piece of fleece. Most important and revealing is a practical pair of shoes, ones that are rugged enough for walking around puddles, and distinctive enough to make a statement of your own style (whether you intend to or not)."

--Stephanie Fajardo, photostylist

 
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