Tag Archives: street style

mix master

jardin des tuileries, paris.

Confession: I did not just encounter this girl on the street. This is Julia, a study abroad student in Paris and an old friend of my friend Naomi. She hung out with us for a couple of the days we were in town, and for one of them she was rocking a seriously sick outfit.

Another confession: that compliment sort of applies to me as well.

See, three out of the seven items you can see in this photo are mine. Julia borrowed my pants, belt, and hat as well as Naomi’s tank top for a little sightseeing trek. (A perk of traveling with girls around your size – triple the wardrobe options!) I love seeing how differently two people can wear the same clothes. When I rock these burgundy jeans, I go for nerdy prep – button downs, v-neck sweaters, navy blazers. Naomi’s style tends towards effortless, 90’s-inspired layers. But even though she put most of the outfit together with our clothes, Julia is all rock star in this photo. Her punky boots and the hardware on her bag add just the right amount of edge, and I’m seriously jealous of how hard she’s rocking that hat. I wore it out the next day on our bagel run and when I sat down in the deli, I realized I was dressed exactly like the Hasidic man chowing down at the table next to me.


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at any age

4th arrondissement, paris.

In case you hadn’t heard, I made it to France for the first time a few weeks ago. I went originally with the idea of model-stalking during Haute Couture Week, but it turns out it’s kinda hard to make yourself spend five days sulking outside fashion shows when you’ve never seen Paris before. Lucky for me, good style is fairly easy to stumble upon in the City of Lights, even in the dead of winter. This woman caught my eye during a pilgrimage for bagels in the 4th arrondissement. From far away, I thought she was an Agyness Deyn-esque hipster type, but as I approached her I realized she was no 20-something – and I love that. In Portland, I rarely see women over 30 take fashion risks like this. Paris is full of the young and beautiful, but I felt like it was this woman who embodied the city’s style.

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la sevillana

alfonso xii


More than any other photo I’ve taken in the last three months, this one represents the modern Spanish woman to me. I mean, check this girl out. Bold red lipstick, both sexily feminine and unabashedly powerful at the same time. A borrowed-from-the-boys tweed coat accented with edgy leather sleeves that still manages to show off her waist. Tailored shorts. Chunky, heeled oxfords (sorry you can’t see them…I really have to learn to keep my hair tied back so I can see what’s going on in my viewfinder!). I mean, she’s wearing a sheer, snakeskin-patterned blouse buttoned all the way up for goodness’ sake!

What I see in the classic but sexy style of Spanish women is a serious self-awareness. These ladies aren’t ashamed to be ladies. They know the power of their sexuality, but they also know it doesn’t need to be exaggerated. Just like this woman, they can be completely covered up – honestly, there’s not a shred of skin showing from neck to toes – and yet still be absolutely sure that they look sexy. I love that. What I see in America is either an over-emphasis of femininity – low-cut tops, slits up to here, bows, frills, sparkles, etc. – or a complete rejection of anything that can be interpreted as sexy (I’m looking at you, Mom Jeans). I think we can really learn from the balance this woman exemplifies – sartorially, and in life as well.

Or, you know, just marvel at her awesome style.

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i’d like to return to the classics

I heard a lot before I left the US about how well-dressed Spanish women are. “Be prepared to wear heels ALL THE TIME,” was a common warning. Jean shorts, sweats, and any sandal resembling a flip-flop would be completely out of place here, I was told. Many well-meaning souls advised me to leave out shorts all together – and this when I was headed to a part of the country that averages 90 degrees in September.

Now that I’m here, I’m beginning to realize there’s been a little bit of exaggerating going on. First of all, shorts are completely commonplace – yes, even jorts. Granted, you won’t see them on women over 25 generally, but for the youth of the day it’s no big deal to show some leg. Secondly, not everyone dresses well here. (I can hear the gasps of shock from across the Atlantic.) There’s an epidemic of poorly-worded English message tees, and I think if I see one more psychedelically patterned drop-crotch pant (where do they find these things?) I’ll go insane. But when the women get it right, they really get it right!

calle sierpes

Take this charming young lady, for instance. Those preppy loafers are the fall shoe of my dreams. Really, everything about her outfit is simple – plain tee, cotton skirt, structured bag – but together, it creates a cohesive outfit. I’m dying to channel her ladylike style in the near future.

plaza de alfalfa

The classic sensibility of chic youngsters is pretty obviously inspired by the previous generation. This woman is the epitome of put-together casual – I’m sorry, but linen wide-leg jade green slacks? WITH A LEOPARD BELT? I have found my people. I never want to leave.

plaza del salvador (excuse the quality, settings got messed up on my camera.)

I think the most striking thing about Spanish style is the complete lack of layering. These women manage to be chic with just two pieces – a top and a bottom. I’m so used to seeing street style snaps of girls swathed in coats on top of twelve sweaters on top of neon tanks that the simplicity of Spanish fashion is just plain refreshing. This woman lets the embellishment on her shoulders do all the heavy lifting, then adds a few simple extras with bangles, a woven belt, and desert booties. So cute, and so easy to put together!

Since I’ve been here, I’ve found myself paring down too. I’m sure it’s partly due to the extreme heat – it’s only now starting to cool down to anything below 32C – but it’s also a side effect of living amongst these classically chic ladies. And yes, there definitely are more well-dressed women here than back home – no Columbia fleece vests in sight!

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