You know something is fashionable when New Yorkers are wearing it - and it appears that when it comes to Made-in-Maine styles, they are. Who would've known and who could've guessed that a look based on the functional, sturdy L.L. Bean boots, warm, understated flannels, and bags made from sails, would make its mark in the urban center of American fashion? But it's inevitable; Maine, with its down-to-earth attire, is not putting on any airs and isn't flashing any bling. Its fashions, like the state itself, are true to its roots -- the unpretentious, comfortable looks are here to stay.
It isn't hard to tell that Portland is a city that flirts with big-city apparel and small-town looks. Boutiques throughout the downtown area carry local and international designers, and visitors get the sense that they are not missing out on any new trend because everything is right here. For those seeking to shop for designer labels at reasonable prices, Portland's vintage and used clothing stores are not to be missed, as they offer the most current fashions and the best deals. Portland is a rare mix of upscale trends and consignment finds.
If there is a Maine look, it is incomplete without the accessory of the Sea Bag
. Unique to the state, the Sea Bag is a handbag or tote made from used sails with rope handles. As all sails differ, each bag has an individual design. A visit to the store takes you down a waterfront pier where the smells of the ocean and the sounds of ferries docking and departing are quintessentially Maine. Here, the fashion is not distinct from the culture; a bag you carry was once a flitting sail, billowing with the salty air of Casco Bay.
Of course, a summary of Maine fashion would not be complete without a mention of the famous L.L. Bean
. Morphing style and functionality into its products, its rustic allure is particular to Maine yet exotic to outsiders. 'Bean' boots are a statement of New England: they keep out the cold, but are effortlessly cool. The Maine look (cozy flannel shirts and bean boots) is not specific to men or women; it is a comfortable yet chic look that is all the rage in and outside of Maine.
To equate a place with a particular look seems understandable if the place is New York City, or L.A., or somewhere that conjurs specific images in your mind. But Maine fashion proves that cutting edge fashion is not only found large, bustling cities; it can be found in a location of serenity and nature, of quiet and relaxation. The clothes can match the experience and lend to the time passed. Maine puts the chic back in vacation; this vacationland is relaxing yet in vogue.
by Heather Clarke