In Portland, we are known for the hood. Not necessarily Mt. Hood. And not the projects neither(RIP Pimp C). I’m talking about the hood that goes on your head. A smart pdxer always has his hood safely reclined on his shoulders like the top down on a rental from September through June. As soon as the first drip drops, he pops the top up before he decides to sally forth from awning to awning, puddle skipping through the city.
I swear the rain will come back. Global warming has been good to the Pacific NW, but once it stops holding the fall hostage we will remember what it is to be true pdxers. Rain haters will move back to their hometowns & part-time street kids move back into their parent’s house when the overcast and constant drizzle return. The rain keeps the city clean and only in the rainy months does Portland truly shine.
There is a saying I’ve always loved: “Don’t like the weather in Portland? Wait 10 minutes.” While one must be covered to stay dry in the rain, one must also not be drenched in sweat when the sun comes out 10 minutes later. So how do we handle this predicament? The answer is layers. There is also a question in style which is “How do we make this person look the best possible?” The answer to this question is also layers! This is actually a style aficionado’s best case scenario. One must become an expert layerer out of necessity for the Portland weather and out of the necessity to look great. Get your cardigans and sweaters ready because I’m going to help you figure out what to put over them as your top layer.
What not to do –
Don’t go and buy a $4-500.00 Columbia Sportswear or North Face winter coat with fleece removable liner that is rain, ice, sleet, snow proof. First off, fleece is WAY out of style for men, especially in Portland because, for no known reason to man or god, they can’t put a
bird hood on it. Also, this is overkill for the city. If you go skiing or snowboarding, get a jacket specific to that. If you get one of these overkill jackets & all you can comfortably wear underneath is a tee-shirt, then you just shot yourself in the foot style-wise. Also, your fashion sense in other people’s eyes is now one winter coat for 7 months out of the year. You just shot yourself in your other foot. How does it feel to cripple yourself?
What you need –
1. The first thing you need is a rain shell. This is literally a thin waterproof shell that will keep your top half 100% dry for days of harder rain. These are genius for layering. Since it is just a shell, you can wear whatever you want underneath and just put this on last and you are weather-ready. It is not warm but is wind-resistant, so make sure you layer enough if it is cold outside. I recommend going to the US Outdoor Store downtown on Broadway as they have lots of brands and everyone I’ve dealt with there has been awesome & very helpful. Not one ounce of Portland Hipster (“I’m too good to serve you”) Industry of Service & Tactlessness in the joint. Don’t get PHISTed (pronounced FIST’ed). Color-wise, go for gray, that way you can wear brown shoes as well as black & match almost anything to it. Even though it is a shell, get it as small as it can fit your body so you don’t look fat.
2. ‘The Portland Mainstay’ is my nickname for the blazer plus hoodie. It’s classy meets inner city hustle. I remember watching the first season of Portlandia on my couch at home & Fred Armisen comes on-screen wearing the exact same thing as me, I didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or proud. The reason it is popular is because it works so well. It is the epitome of fashion and function. This is the right coverage for overcast days with drizzle off & on. On horrible days you can even put your shell from #1 over this. You have 6-8 pockets between the two articles & you don’t even need pants, for pockets at least. Also, as soon as you are in an office or friends house, you take both off & put the blazer back on & are totally comfortable for any indoor activity. Blazers at H&M are only $50-80.00 and fit well and look classy. Get the tightest fit even though you have to fit a hoodie on underneath, this isn’t time to forget fit. For the hoodie, you don’t want the super thick material. You want a nice small, slim, blank hoodie. No big baggy skate/snowboarder hoodies. All the color combinations are endless. I would try American Apparel for the blank hoodies, but they can be hard to find. Post any hints you may have on blank hoodies. I’ve found with a quick google search there are blazers with ‘built-in’ hoodies in them, this utterly violates this completely versitile, mix-&-match style statement.
3. The third must have is the trench. This is a very stylish jacket. This is a usually sophisticated jacket and in the right material will be rain proof. They usually come without hoods, but if the weather is bad you can always throw your hoodie on underneath like in #2 above. There are many styles & makes of trenches, you just have to find one you like that fits well & is worth the cost. It sounds so easy, but it’s not. Make sure you watch the width of the chest and waist when you try it on to ensure it fits. Check Banana Republic, Macy’s or the Rack for trenches.
Honorable Mention: the P-Coat. I love the P-Coat, but I don’t know where people get them. I have never found one worth buying. So if you know something I don’t please comment below.