Four fashion trendsetters give tips on how you can spring forward
By Nick Mattos, PQ Monthly
Spring is here, and it’s high time to take off your waterlogged winter coat and update your look for the change in the seasons. To help inspire your personal sartorial evolution, PQ invited four of the city’s sharpest and most daring fashionistas to share their suggestions as to how you can take your spring style to the next level with a few basic additions and surprisingly accessible innovations.
Dapper and romantic
Partners Camille Pandian and Jess Carson of Reveille, the marvelously unique and fashion-forward boutique on NW 23rd, have received a great deal of local and national press for their shop’s smart, daring mix of current fashions and select high-end vintage for all genders.
As people who see trends change day-to-day, though, Pandian and Carson still feel that the warm weather months are Portland’s sartorial favorites.
“Spring/summer is short here and you wait a long time to break out the summer fashion,” Pandian explains. “People hit it hard when the time comes. Everyone is so excited to shed their thick winter layers.”
What should you unveil from beneath those layers? For the ladies, Pandian posits, this spring is all about romance and lace — think dreamy, bohemian elegance with a wistful twist.
“In Reveille, Alice by Temperley and Opening Ceremony have some fantastic dreamy lace pieces,” Pandian says, “particularly the Alice by Temperley Surya Jumpsuit, which is an all-lace romper inspired by Indian Henna tattoos — very cool. Also the Opening Ceremony Flocked Lace Dress — it feels just like wearing a cloud.”
For gentlemen, it’s important to buck the impulse to simply cut your jeans into shorts and call it a day. Carson has the perfect solution for the sharp-dressed man in the springtime: lightweight suits in cotton and linen. Portlanders are in luck: Reveille is preparing to release a full men’s line, including the perfect linen deconstructed sack coat. The same sartorial sensibility — casual without being sloppy — should extend throughout your spring wardrobe; look to Swedish design team Our Legacy and their sleek Euro-influenced sportswear for inspiration.
Big on style
Local designer Bertha Pearl thinks the most important thing you can do to look good is to feel good about yourself — at any size. Pearl is known on both coasts for her extremely daring and flattering creations for the plus-size community.
“I am a fat activist,” Pearl says of her work, “and part of my activism is to create designs that inspire people to feel good about their bodies and themselves. … It’s important to me to help create fat visibility, so that the world can see diversity of shapes and sizes, and appreciate them.”
To facilitate this visibility, Pearl recommends interpreting it literally by embracing eye-catching colors and prints.
“Try lighter clothing in bright colors,” she suggests: “I saw a great lime green coat yesterday and turquoise plaid pants. Super adventurous!”
For those who want to be bold without searing anyone’s corneas, Pearl recommends starting small.
“Accessories are terrific if you are not into bright clothing, An orange bag, a fuschia scarf, or a big red belt will zing an outfit.”
Pearl also encourages those who are male-identified to shine a bit brighter on the sunny streets.
“I made a turquoise sparkle singlet [which you may have seen on the flyer for the recent size-positive dance night Jellyroll] and I would love to see something like that on the street with loud shorts and big chunky boots.”
To update your look on a budget, Pearl suggests that the female-identified add a sassy new skirt to their spring wardrobes.
“I am loving tight mini skirts for spring, and big circle skirts.” Go for a floral or plaid print to add an instant bloom of fun under the sun.
Make it up, break it down
The clothes are only part of your style renaissance. Makeup is an accessible way to update your look completely — and local performer, teacher, and cosmetic genius Melody Awesomazing thinks springtime is the perfect moment to get bold with your maquillage.
“I’m excited to see that people are experimenting with different lip colors in particular; it’s one simple thing you can do to change your look,” Awesomazing says.
For those who like a more masculine aesthetic, blue, black, dark purple, and hot orange are excellent choices that can be procured at a variety of drugstores and makeup counters. To turn up the volume farther, contrast the butch with the femme: try incorporating some pastels alongside a dark hue to maximize your impact.
The newfound sun of spring brings out the party animal in every Portlander — and there’s one bold touch that can easily make the transition from the drag show stage to the house party floor with a little bit of glue.
“People are gluing everything under the sun to their nails and face right now,” Awesomazing explains. “Pretty much anything can be glued to your skin using duo eyelash glue or spirit gum.”
Experiment with confetti, rhinestones, natural objects like flowers, and whatever else you can find in your art supply box — and don’t be afraid to make a misfire or two.
“I’ll give you one free makeup tip,” Awesomazing offers. “Anything can be fixed by adding glitter.”
What not to wear
The springtime is so short in Portland that it’s a terrible shame to make major faux pas with your fashion — so weed a few things and habits out right now.
The Reveille team turns their eyes downward, and their noses up, at two significant Portland footwear trends: Vibram Five Fingers and Crocs. Save them for your “barefoot” running workouts or shifts in the ER.
Also, pleads Pandian, inclement weather is no excuse for bad fashion. “Please get rid of your ugly raincoat.” Ditch the bland North Face hiking-wear and instead treat yourself to a fitted trench — or, better yet, just grab an umbrella.
“My least favorite thing about Portland fashion in general,” Awesomazing says, “is the lack of bright colors. People wear a lot of black, grey, and navy blue. I don’t know how people get through the grey winter wearing all black and grey.”
Pearl agrees. “So many people wear grey, and grey tones. Beige, taupe, charcoal … I know they are basics, but blah! Portland has enough grey.”
For spring, Awesomazing wants you to ditch the darkness and go towards the light. Adding even one bright pattern or a romantic floral print to an outfit can take it from the funerary to the fantastic.
Another distinctively Portland look that you may want to retire: the retro pin-up aesthetic.
“I am getting really bored with is the pin-up look for makeup in particular,” Awesomazing opines. “A neutral eye with a red lip looks good on most people, but personally I think anything else is more interesting.”
Instead, shake things up with a bold, crafty touch. “My personal recent obsession is using stencils for makeup patterns,” she says. For beginners, start with small stencils as part of the eye makeup; for the strong-hearted, cheeks and foreheads can become canvasses for your craft store finds.
Most importantly, make this the spring you embrace your true beauty, whatever your look may be.
“When you feel good,” Pearl says, “you are more confident — and confidence is very attractive.”
So, get out in the sun, and shine!
Pandian and Carson’s shop Reveille is located at 728 NW 23rd Ave, Portland; check out their website at reveilleshop.com. Pearl’s shop and studio Size Queen Clothing is located at 3125 E Burnside, Portland; check out her website at sizequeenclothing.com. Melody Awesomazing is available for makeup gigs and consultations; contact her at