I am currently in the hipster capital of the world, Portland, Oregon. It is currently uncharacteristically sunny, a blazing 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and not everything Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen portray it as on IFC.
I just saw a college here, and let’s just say it’s study abroad programs are fantastic! I could go back to Chile or Ecuador for a semester, or possibly Japan, or maybe Senegal? I am definitely not pulling the trigger this early in the college search process, but it’s exciting to think that soon, offers like these will be available to me.
The amount of study abroad programs at this college doesn’t surprise me. Portland is such an international city and is cool as a cucumber (a locally grown, organic cucumber of course).
So, let’s get a breakdown of Portland. It’s a cool place – might as well blend in. Therefore, it might be necessary to know
The Rules of Portlandia
1. Ride a damn bike
Anywhere else, bikes and cars are an awful combination. However in Portland, bikes rule. It is like the cycling capital of the United States. You see them everywhere, and it makes sense. Parking is either nowhere or extremely expensive. Also, Portland is incredibly eco-friendly. Bikes are a nice, green alternative. If you visit, bike rentals abound, and you’ll fit right in if you ride one.
2. Grow some facial hair
If your a dude and want to blend into the Portland landscape, grow some fuzz on your face. Whether you cultivate some scruff, a handlebar mustache, pre-pubescent peach fuzz, or a full grown grizzly mass of hair on your face, grow it out! Skinny guys, husky dudes, and everyone in between at least has some hair on his face, well, other than me. I can only grow a fu-manchu and I’d rather not be a stereotype. Long story short – Scruff it up!
3. Wear hats, fun hats
Newsboy caps, pork pie hats, and berets are all fair game. I was walking after a dinner and stumbled upon a group of youths. One of these youngsters, in fact, was wearing a wonderfully feathered pork pie. Another great sight was of a rice paddy hat in a nearby park. Fashion statements, old and new, are always appreciated here in Portland.
I should have brought some weird head gear just for fun. If your head is cold and you want to blend in Portland, spring for a local newsboy cap or beanie that can be purchased at the weekly Saturday Market (also open on Sundays) along the river. Beware – they usually cost about thirty bucks! Or try a fedora with animal ears. Yes, those exist.
4. Shabby chic
At times, it can be difficult to distinguish the homeless population, which is visible in Portland, to the “artsy” home owners/ renters. Shabby chic is in. Grungy flannels, earthy tones, and re-purposed articles of clothing are Portland Versace.
Dress fashionably, but not like you’re breaking the bank. Uniqueness with style, older, vintage articles, and a more artistic than functional wardrobe is what stands out in Portland. You don’t have to dress full on hipster, but putting a little effort to look more salt of the earth and adding some burgundy and brown will basically make you a chameleon in Portland.
*Other very Portland things
Unisex gages, wispy, thin scarves, and let’s not forget dogs!
If you are traveling than you may not be bringing your pet, nevertheless, dogs are right at home in Portland with multiple parks and businesses that allow access to man’s best friend. Those with separation anxiety with their pooches will be fine in Portlandia.
I am currently arriving in Tacoma, Washington (again!) I return to the Midwest tomorrow and am very sad. The climate, people, and food in the Pacific Northwest are way more my style, but the future is bright. I saw three schools up here, and all of them struck a cord. I may be spending much more time in this rainy ecosystem of tattoos, ironic t-shirts, and grunge music. ¡A ver! More to come soon about more travels, domestic or otherwise!