If you're moving to Portland for school, you probably have some preconceived notions about how people here dress. And you probably picked up at least some of these ideas from Portlandia. Forget everything you've seen: Yes, there are hippies here, as well as crusties, beardos, bikers, jocks, and steampunks. Ignore all of them, take risks, and follow your eye. You'll thank yourself later when you find the old photos of yourself looking young, fresh, original, and yes, perfect.
And yes, I know, you have no money. Luckily Portland has a huge and relatively unspoiled population of thrift stores. But one can quickly tire of head-to-toe thrift, and when you're ready for something off the rack, remember: American Apparel is not the only way. SE Hawthorne's Communion (3556 SE Hawthorne) is one example of an independent store that specializes in lower-priced boutique-wear (perfect Portlanders only shop local). Owner Mary Luczyki and manager Mandy Thomson both recommend making a moderate investment in stylish takes on practical items. "Waxed cotton jackets are a good alternative to expensive waterproofed versions," Thomson points out. "Raw denim is also easy to find for under $100 now," says Luczyki. "That would have been impossible two years ago."
This season is all about mixing bold colors and patterns with neutrals, and bright accessories like a scarf, socks, or hat. Luczyki also reports that printed denim is huge for girls—the shop carries Cheap Monday versions for $70.
As for grooming: Christian McNutt of Rock Paper Scissors Salon (4422 SE Hawthorne) cautions that if you don't have the cash for shampoo nice enough that they don't sell it at the grocery store, baking soda and water is your best bet. "Cheap shampoo ruins your hair," he stresses. He also recommends you "wash your hair as often as you wash your butt," and leave any lightening, ombre coloring, or hair cuts more complex than shaving your head or trimming your bangs to professionals. Choose cuts that go with the way your hair naturally moves; the key is to make it easy on yourself. You will wake up in unplanned locations, and the last thing you need is to require an hour of maintenance, products, and tools to look like your normal self again. Same goes for makeup. Just a swipe of red lipstick is perfect.