When you move to a new place or try a new activity (say, commuting by bus or train), it can be hard to find a new style. It might be immediately apparent that your previous style which worked so well in the past is not right. It may just feel out of place, or it really might not be functional.
When I first arrived in Portland, I felt frustrated because I couldn’t even figure out what good “Portland” style was. The color scheme seemed based on black, which I didn’t want to wear. There was no discernable style I could identify.
But then something changed: I started living like a true Portlandia resident. I gave up my car. For the past three weeks I’ve (mostly) existed car free, and it has been GREAT. I’m early now almost always (a new experience for me), awake, and well read. I’ve made it through 500+ pages in three weeks! Leaving driving to a pro feels like the way to go.
On my commute, working downtown, I’m finally seeing truly stylish people—and it feels a lot like Scotland (another place whose style seemed impossibly difficult to master!). This shouldn’t surprise me since the weather is similarly fickle. So, then, what defines PDX style? Here are the top 10 elements of an uber-stylish Portlander as I’ve gleaned it this past month:
- A great coat. Ideally it’s lightweight, waterproof, and well fitted.
- A color palette out of the bold box of Crayola markers from childhood—aqua, magenta, olive, goldenrod. This is hard for me since I don’t own or look good in many of these colors! Bonus points for layering without bulk (a Scottish girl’s trick that always felt so elusive to me… where do they purchase these amazing layers?!)
- The ability to wear a brimmed hat professionally and without a hint of irony. Added bonus if you can pull this off: you can get away with a coat or sweater without a hood.
- Well-heeled, solid shoes. Ideally they have a half an inch platform on the front and 1 1/2-2” heel on the back that begins the width of your heel and taper to about a half dollar to avoid looking clunky. Real leather is best, if possible.
- A securely stored but easily accessible attractive bi-fold wallet. Must haves in the wallet? A clear plastic ID holder so you can easily show your bus pass without holding up the line, and cash. Most food carts are still cash only businesses.
- For women: mastery of a polished, pulled together wavy hairstyle. It’s going to drizzle, so abandon straight styles. For men: well groomed facial hair. This way no matter how long or unique your actual hair, people can easily tell you care about yourself.
- A smartphone, so you can check the status of your bus and be productive on the commute
- A good book. Yes, people are looking at what you’re reading in this city! Books seem to be the universally agreed upon way to signal when you definitely don’t want to strike up a conversation, or when you do… oh, what are you reading?
- A low profile bag, preferably cross body
- Tolerance! Racism and unwillingness to try new things are ugly anywhere, but they’re particularly out of place and unattractive in Portland.
So there you have it, all I’ve learned so far!