style/place musings & WIW on a short getaway

I just came back from an overnight trip to Bellingham, less than two hours north of my home in Seattle, Washington. I've been there before, but always in summer, and it has been a while. It surprised me how taken I was with the place this time. I felt very at home there and wondered if I might rather live there than Seattle, in some ways. It's a college town and a thriving arts enclave, a former fishing and logging port that has managed to build a tourist trade without losing its sense of community. Styles are quite laid-back, ranging from arty boho influences to hiking and biking gear. I found myself contemplating how my own style might differ from what it is now, if I lived there.

One outfit in particular, worn by a woman working in a restaurant where we had a casual dinner, prompted this line of thought and even made me a little nostalgic. She had on flared corduroys, clogs, and a sequined tank top. The corduroys, a faded gray, sat low on her hips, and fit just the way I liked to wear them several years go--just slightly loose, not baggy, flared at the bottom, and not overly fitted at the knee. All I could see of the clogs--or maybe they were Dansko-style shoes--were the thick soles and a slight bit of the toe. The black sequined top gave a whimsical nod to the holiday season. She wore her wavy hair down, tucked behind her ears. This was exactly the kind of look I aspired to, not long ago. Had my husband and I chosen Bellingham rather than Seattle--a brief consideration--when we moved from California in 2008, I would probably be dressing that way now. I came home and looked in my closet to see if I might have kept the gray gently-flared corduroys I had like those the waitress had worn. But no, they must have been in my last batch of clothing donations. I do still have a similar pair that I liked better, though. Just in case, you know. Maybe I'll want to return to that look sometime, even for a day or two. I still have my clogs and some clog-like shoes, too. You just never know where or who you might end up being, right?

I often fantasize about what it would be like to live in the places I visit. This time felt different, since it was so familiar and close to home, and yet the atmosphere felt both so different and appealing. Recently we've had some discussions about influences on our style, dressing to fit in, and the weight of  individuality versus community in shaping our style. I may seem like quite an individual in the way that I dress, but I feel there is a good portion of my style that is very much influenced by my surroundings and the people I'm around. Living in Seattle and hanging around the virtual YLF crowd have led me to aspire to a little more sophistication and to add some urban elements to my casual style.

The outfits (worn on our outing to Bellingham):
1-3: teal skinny corduroys (Kut from the Kloth, Diana); stone mixed media cotton & linen knit top (made by me); teal and olive scarf; stone & cream belt (Annette Goertz); gray moto boots (Frye, Lynn); taupe trench (Calvin Klein); taupe shoulder bag (Aunts & Uncles).

4-5: cords, boots, belt, trench and bag (not pictured), same as above; olive knit cowl-neck, cross-over front pullover (Nally & Millie).

Thanks for reading and looking! How much do you think your style is influenced by place?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • shevia replied 4 years ago

    Sharan I enjoyed reading your musings very much. I do relate to that feeling - I actually had it when I was in Seattle last summer with my old friends. Being somewhere so utterly different than where I live, where the preoccupations are so different, filled me with nostalgia. I was that person too, once. 

    So in terms of your question, there is no doubt that I would be dressing differently if I lived elsewhere. The basic impulses might be the same but they would be expressed differently in a different context. 

    I love your outfits - I particularly love the combination of teal with stone and brown on you.

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    Oh, I love how you put that, Jaime: same "basic impulses", but "expressed differently and in a different context." That makes so much sense.

  • Caro in Oz replied 4 years ago

    Having made a big move from a cosmopolitan urban city to a more laid-back suburb that is touristy & close to the beach I can say yes my style would & did change. I still have my "city" clothes but when I wear them here I stand out a lot more than when I used to wear them. I also have a MUCH larger summer capsule of mainly dresses & sandals whereas I hardly ever wore dresses & only owned one pair of sandals when I got here.

  • replied 4 years ago

    Fascinating read FC. Interesting to read your thoughts and I was trying to think about what I do or would do. Having read Shevias' post on wheat or rice growers, I think that I am starting to become a little more of a wheat grower since participating on here, and being more individual, but still within certain parameters. However, I know for sure that I dress differently when on holiday in Greece for instance, but of course that is more to do with climate... but I do wonder, if I lived there, how much I would change my style... probably more that I could envisage. We are complex are we not?

    I do love your outfits, as usual :) You look fab in the teal shades in outfit #1 and I adore the drape of your top in #2... nice peek of your belt peeping out between the drape layers too, and  your top nicely bookends with your boots.

  • Missey replied 4 years ago

    Your musing have really struck a chord with me, Sharan.  I think we really do dress for our environment.  Thinking back to other parts of the US where I have lived, I definitely "dressed the part". 

    Always a Minnesotan at heart, I'm here to stay.  Central MN, for the most part, is typically behind a year or so on trends, so while I admire all styles of dressing, there are just some that would really make me stand out around these parts and I wouldn't feel comfortable.  As it is, most days I get ready and go, I am more "dressed up"  than the average person around these parts.  I aim for smart casual, while straight up functional outdoors casual is what you can expect around here.  This could definitely be why I have trouble getting dressed!  Thanks for the food for thought!

  • Karie replied 4 years ago

    Interesting read, FC. This time of year, my style is definitely influenced by place, and more specifically the climate of that place. It's super cold and snowy, and everyone here is wearing jeans, warm boots, and heavy sweaters. If we take climate out of the equation, I live in a place that is somewhat arty, definitely major retail, and very diverse. Albany also has a lot of colleges and universities. I see this area as a "choose your style and dress accordingly" type of town, partly because everything is so readily available, and partly because of the diversity.

    And your outfits are, of course, beautiful! I love those teal slacks!

  • texstyle replied 4 years ago

    Love both your outfits but especially the second one!  Teal with dark brown is lovely. And yes, I do feel that the place dictates my wardrobe choices quite a lot. There are weather considerations of course, but aside from that, I think that I prefer not to stand out as being too different, so I do tend to pay attention to area trends. Here, that means jeans and more jeans - but I am a jeans girl at heart so that part works for me. The boots that are so popular here however are not really my favorite. I don't love bulky or heavy shoes so my Frye's are not being worn, in spite of them being the perfect light color, and a wonderful boot. I keep thinking I will have a change of heart and wear them.

  • jackiec replied 4 years ago

    First of all, love your outfits. Hey, add a little red to the teal and you are at Angie's ensemble ;). I enjoyed your musings. You were just a stone's throw from me when you were in Bellingham! I totally agree that living closer to "The City" brings with it a certain level of sophistication in dressing. My family lives in and around Whistler mountain, and when I go up there, the dressing is much more casualized (for obvious reasons). We actually have a term describing "city clothes" as opposed to whistler clothes. Nonetheless, we have to adapt our dress to our surroundings, yes. I could totally see you in some slouchy cords with a sequin top, by the way ;)

  • replied 4 years ago

    First off Sharan, those teal cords are wonderful on you. Fit, and colour-wise. Love them!  What a great colour to play with - it works so well with a lot, doesn't it?

    Regarding the dressing for where you are issue - yes, I definitely do it, and think about it.  I travel a bit through Canada for my job - and there are certain things I pull out for certain cities looking to   "match" to the level of dressiness and sophistication, or lack thereof:)   Funny - my brother and his family live in northern Saskatchewan in a provincial park (golf course, lake, cottages , skiing, etc) and when I go to visit, I sometimes fantasize about the freedom from fashion that exists in a place like that.  All casual, lots of gear, lots of sports-specific clothing, and a lot of general happiness , I've noticed.  Much like Jackie's Whistler visits (but not in multi - million dollar condos, lol) .  

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    Caro, that's an interesting experience. It's not just a matter of climate, but level of formality that changed for you. Diane, I wonder if you might find a similar experience if you moved to Greece. Perhaps it would be even more conducive to your love of skirts.
    Missey, it sounds like you are finding a happy medium between your style persona and that of the people you are around. Jackie, it sounds fun to have city and Whistler clothes. I'm sure many of us have something similar, like maybe work and weekend clothes. (Can't believe I was that close to you, too!) Texstyle, how neat that you are at home in the jeans that are characteristic of your environment. Maybe your shoes are where you express your individuality. It's too bad your boots haven't turned out to be the go-to option you wanted. Hopefully they will be good to have on hand for particularly boot-worthy occasions.
    Karie, it's interesting how in a city you can choose where you want to fit in. I dress in a way that I would say is very in tune with the neighborhood we live in. It's a very residential part of Seattle, not really a hip or happening kind of area. It's a little quirky, though, and very walkable.

  • catgirl replied 4 years ago

    This is fascinating and I think about this all the time.  If I lived in Hawai'i again, I'd be a surf girl through and through.  Long hair, surf shorts, tees, flip-flops.  :)  Floral prints, cute swingy dresses, beat-up cut-off denim shorts.  Sigh.

  • Sara L. replied 4 years ago

    Interesting idea that I've never really thought about much.  I love those teal cords.  The fabric looks so rich.

  • rachylou replied 4 years ago

    Knock out outfits! I love the dark teal and brown for you. Love the drape and architectural shape of your tops.

    Context really affects how outfits come off and what you want to wear. When I was all bakery and not going into the city, I was all over the Danskos + flares (+ Put A Bird On It). Now I'm going into the city everyday and just want to be a nihilist punk. Interestingly, working in the suburbs... I feel a desire to wear suits these days. I have some internal fashion equalizer. I wonder what would happen if I dressed, not to match my environment, but like everyone else in my environment.

    ... that's provided I could figure out exactly what they're doing. I wear what they all wear, I just don't seem to wear it in the same way...

  • CocoLion replied 4 years ago

    Wow, I absolutely love those teal pants on you.  And I thought I was over colored pants and jeans.  Yet they look fresh and pretty this time of year.

    I enjoyed your story.  The waitress was probably wearing professional, non-slip clogs -- they are great for those of us who work on our feet.  I swear by them.

    I think locale does influence style to a certain extent.  But not completely.  My guess is the waitress was admiring your outfit and looks just as much as you appreciated hers.  

  • thimblelina replied 4 years ago

    Great looks! I'm chiming in with the teal pants love.

    I'm definitely influenced by where I live. One of the most exciting chapters of my college life was putting together my first career capsule when I went on a semester long internship program to work at the Archives of American Art in SF's De Young Museum... A big difference from my small town SoCal upbringing!

    My husband & I were just talking about that other thread and dressing for one's fantasy life. We have a vacation rental cabin in the Southern Oregon Cascades and our time up there involves wearing lots of gear and being outdoors a lot, either working on the property or playing. (Sometimes when I catch my husband in a slightly more metrosexual look from home I tease him that he's liable to get a butt kicking in the Big R parking lot down in Klamath Falls!) I love taking a break from hair dryers and mascara, but I also make some time to play around with funny juxtapositions from my wardrobe, like luxe hippie mushroom hunter, expatriate Eastern European heiress on skis, or glam cowgirl. Not really things I would ever think of down here in Sonoma County! And he kind of does that too with his lumberjack plaids, work boots, and extensive ski beanie collection.

    Anyway, it's good to have a little something to dress all our different selves, isn't it!

  • Aida replied 4 years ago

    Interesting thoughts Sharan! I think to a degree the location is an influence, but for myself it is more a reflection of climate and to a far lesser degree socioeconomic setting. For example when I lived on the eastside I wore my tall pumps a LOT more than I do now that I'm in the North Sound (and have actually since purged nearly all of them, since we have a more outdoor-active rather than urban-active lifestyle now). But the bulk of my clothing was really similar, because the climate is the same. I would also suspect that there would be a larger gap in "location style" for an eclectic dresser; we could let out different sides of us, or at least the primary side could be easily skewed. My hunch is that no matter where you live you'll still have that arty touch of yours, because I can see it across all range of outfits that you post. We probably all have at least something that would stay in our core regardless.

    Great outfits as always. Those teal cords are lovely on you, and oh-so texturally yummy. I've been toying with the idea of picking up a pair of velvet pants (ideally flares but well, you know, rain...), this is a fabulous inspiration. And I could see you rocking your version of the waitress outfit using some of the fabulous pieces in your wardrobe. Are you planning to give it a try?

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Sharan, this is such an interesting post that I want to come back to it. We're just about to have our supper here, so I will return when I've had some time to muse. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well as your fab outfits! 

  • E replied 4 years ago

    Those cords are stunning!

    I really loved reading your thoughts. I just recently moved to a very different climate & environment, one that feels much more 'me,' and allows me to dress how I like, but I'm definitely not blending in to my sartorial environment. I do think my favourite muted shades suit the northern sunlight at least. :)

  • Angie replied 4 years ago

    Don't you dare move to Bellingham. We need you in Seattle. 

    Jokes aside, I'm glad you had a nice time, and could reflect in a meaningful way.

    I love #1 and #4. Those pants are absolutely AMAZING on you. WOW. And the tops are fab too. Killer x2. xo

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Joining in the love for your teal pants. You are making me want a pair. What great outfits! 

    Bellingham is to Seattle as Kingston is to Toronto. :)  So coming from Toronto to Kingston definitely meant a change in style, even though the climate is basically the same (just a bit colder and snowier). 

    This is a college town, and there's always a faint whiff of the boho about it. Since I don't have a boho bone in my body, my style has changed by becoming a touch more collegiate/ sportier. It's for practical reasons as much as it is to "fit in." Heels, for instance, just don't make a lot of sense here where I need to walk. I probably wear more denim, and dress casually more often than I would in a larger city. 

    It's interesting to think about though. I am sure if my move were like Caro's, to a beachy place, like her, I'd suddenly be wearing a lot more dresses and sandals. It just feels right in that environment. 

    And if i lived in Seattle, you had better believe I'd have some stylish rainwear! :) 

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    Oh, Una, it would be fun to see your surfer side! But floral prints, really? Maybe edgy looking ones.
    Sara, thank you!
    Rachylou, it does make a difference how things are worn, as well as what they are. Your observations are so funny and wise.
    Denise, I bet you're right--she might have been wearing Sanitas like yours! That's so kind of you to say she was probably admiring my outfit. All of us who are into fashion do that, don't we? Admire each other from afar (or not so far, as the case may be).
    Aida, your comments and others here keep me coming back to Jaime's well-put thought about our basic impulses, expressed differently and in different contexts. Seems so true, doesnt' it?
    Thimblelina, you have some really fascinating sounding shadow styles going on! How fun.
    Thanks, Suz.
    E, I find the same thing about Seattle. I love the light here, and how it encourages me to wear the "moody" colors that I like. I think my color palette has shifted somewhat since I've moved here. I used to try to brighten up my look more in California, where it was sunny 90 percent of the time.
    Angie, you're too funny--and sweet! We won't be moving to Bellingham; we're settled here and happy. We might make an effort to go hang out there more often.

  • replied 4 years ago

    Another love for the teal cords. The color is vibrant but rich.

    I loved reading your musings. I can really relate. I have moved quite a bit and my style has most definitely shifted with each move. I think the shifts are all within the context of each other though. I wear essentially the same mix of outfits just in different quantities. I think part of what has drawn me to YLF is my current environment feels the least like me, stretching my style range. I think it is fun to think how you would dress when touring about.

  • unfrumped replied 4 years ago

    Great musings and great teal pants!

    I wonder is this like considering your shadow style?
    Or thinking, whose TV show or what clothing catalogue would we dress like if we could?
    Or if I had a different job, either more casual or more formal.
    Should we be really trying to get to a job or locale in which we can " dress our truth"?

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    Suz, thanks for the analogy! Now I can imagine a bit more about Kingston, where I've never been. I would be wearing more flat shoes if I were walking more, too. I like to wear jeans a lot, and perhaps that's part of why I've tried to get a little more sophistication from other elements of my style.
    Marin, I've moved a lot, too. I always adapted my style to fit in, especially as a kid in school. I feel like I've had some pretty pronounced shifts along the way. This is the first time I've been able to put down roots somewhere. I feel my surroundings are very compatible with how I'm wanting to dress (my little Bellingham flight of fancy aside--it's not like I couldn't dress a bit more Bellingham if I wanted to).
    unfrumped, I think there is a bit of the shadow-style pursuit in imagining what I'd dress like in a different locale. Your questions are good ones! You remind me that at one point in my life, after I left the Army, I used to think about possible jobs in terms of what I would wear. If it was a job that involved dressing in a way I didn't want to, I would discard that possibility. I thought about dog-walking/pet-sitting for instance, but I knew I didn't want to build a wardrobe geared toward those activities. Funny, huh? I also thought about truck-driving, but again, did not want to dress the part (i.e., in clothes suitable for checking the oil or sleeping in a cab, possibly in a frozen tundra somewhere, or in a driving rain).

  • catgirl replied 4 years ago

    I meant Hawaiian prints like floral board shorts... :)

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    ha hahah! Shows how little I'm in an island state of mind. Ok, I'll let those pass, Una.

  • Jeanie replied 4 years ago

    First of all, I just adore your outfits!  What great color inspiration.  I am loving the teal and brown.  And those pants are on sale...tying not to look!   I often romanticize about living in a place that I visit but it sounds like you were really feeling a kinship to this new place.  That is a nice feeling.  Do you think your style is more urban than relaxed living in Seattle?  I am trying to visualize the corduroy outfit (sometimes I want to ask people if I can take a pic of their outfit but never do...ha ha!)  Is there any reason you wouldn't wear this outfit in your current environment?  I hope you recreate it....sounds fun!  I think college towns always have a fun vibe and bring in a lot of art, intellect and style into their surroundings.  I am happy living near a big campus and would consider living near a college as a consideration if I were to move.  

  • Jeanie replied 4 years ago

    I just saw your comment to unfrumped about dress being a factor in job selection.  I am giggling out loud because...I never told anyone this but when I changed majors in college, one of the factors was because I didn't want to wear medical scrubs everyday!!  I am so glad to hear I am not alone in my work/style aspirations...high five!  

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    Jeanie, interesting question about urban or relaxed. I think what I've developed in Seattle is what I think of as a city shoe wardrobe, or one that works on sidewalks but not gravel or dirt. Perhaps my outerwear, too, would fall into this category. Most days, I'm wearing something that would not easily take me on an impromptu walk through the woods, or it would look rather out of place there. But I think my style is relaxed urban. Your description of what a college brings to its surroundings is nicely put. I like living near colleges or universities, too.

  • kellygirl replied 4 years ago

    Love the teal cords on you--they are awesome. The texture and colors are fab. Both tops are terrific but the brown topper is simply amazing with those pants! Interesting style musings. I love college towns too. 

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    Thanks, Kelly!
    Ha ha, Jeanie! High five!

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