Visual and Critical Studies student at the School of the Art Institute Nola Weber was on her way to do some grocery shopping.
You are from Portland. How does Chicago style differ from Portland’s?
Because Portland has a much more temperate climate, people tend to get a little more creative with their wardrobes since they aren’t relegated to wearing the same sub-zero outerwear day in and day out. In Chicago, I would say function definitely and understandably precedes fashion—you have to enter survival mode every time you leave the house, whether it’s zero degrees or ninety-five.
How would you describe “Portland style”?
There’s a huge emphasis on vintage and thrift throughout Portland, and style is a strong platform for communicating your personality and interests. There is a certain eclectic look that echoes through the city but it’s hard to pin a name to it. You have to visit the town to understand, but it’s there—”Portlandia” doesn’t lie.
What do you do to keep both fashionable and warm?
Today, I’m wearing a 1920s cloche hat and a fur trim jacket from the 1950s. The jacket’s material is warm, but its boxy styling allows me to layer quite intensively without looking too bulky. My faithful Doc Martens are great for trudging through the snow, and even keep my feet dry when I mistake slush puddles for ice slicks.
What is your most treasured piece of clothing?
Because I obsessively collect vintage clothing, hats and jewelry, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. But I have a 1950s cream lace dress I found in Portland that I wouldn’t sell for a million bucks. I have had a knack for vintage since high school. But I didn’t always have the foresight to keep every piece I acquired, which means I resold a lot of great finds to secondhand stores. Lately, pre-1960s vintage has become so rare and expensive that I never let anything go. I consider my pieces long-term, timeless investments that I hope to still be wearing in three decades. Maybe I’ll sell everything off when I turn 100, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
—Interview and photograph by Isa Giallorenzo