Words | Jon Shadel
As the days get shorter and the mercury in the thermometer takes a nosedive, most of us swap out summery fashion staples for heavier fabrics, darker colors and bulky coats. In other words, our wardrobe — if that’s what you call a closet full of flannel shirts and raw denim — reflects the reality of vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder.
But even in those colder, overcast months, a miraculous and unseasonably warm spell can arrive when you least expect it, prompting a style shake-up as you don lighter, airier garb and head into the great outdoors to take in some much-needed rays.
This is particularly true in the drizzly pocket of North America known as the Pacific Northwest, where residents often charitably refer to these rare hours of non-rainy weather as “sun breaks.” And while nine months of overcast weather can keep many endlessly cooped up indoors, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a sole person inside the moment the clouds give way to clear skies.
On a recent sunny weekend, we took a camera and followed a couple of Portlanders who chose to skip the city and hit the road, driving into the high desert of Central Oregon, far from the lush, verdant forests of the Willamette Valley. They stopped at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and wandered into a clearing where horses run free in fields tinged with seemingly eternal light.
Here, the sun shines some 300 days a year, and in unexpectedly warm weather like this, when the afternoon can hit late-summer highs before dipping to chilly lows in the evening, dressing in layers is key; these two show us how to dress for these golden hours — opting for timeless Western classics like denim jackets and leather boots, effortless cool factor that’s practical and never goes out of style.
Lounging on a well-worn Pendleton blanket, they relish in the unexpected gift of an Indian summer: The seasons change for a minute. Carpe aestatem. The smile of some forgotten god.