Sitting behind the counter at the Xtabay, I see a lot of people come and go. One of the conclusions I've come to is that fashion and style are not the same.
Plenty of women come in the store wearing pointy shoes, a Marc Jacobs purse, and expensive jeans. They look terrific, but not particularly memorable. They're fashionable but not stylish. On the other hand, lots of Xtabay's customers are really stylish. They've forged their own looks--whether it's 1970s kiana shirts with caramel-colored boots and corduroys or 1950s cotton sundresses with cashmere cardigans.
Some women seem to have been born with style. A few months ago a girl who couldn't have been more than twleve years old came in the store with her father. They girl's hair was partly dyed pink, she wore layers of brightly colored tee shirts, and she had a backpack shaped like a koala bear. When she smiled she showed a mouth full of braces. She oozed style. Her father seemed mystified by his daughter's fashion choices. "She wears the craziest things," he said, "Girl Scout uniforms, you name it." I'd love to see her in ten years when she really comes into her own.
But whatever their age, the stylish women I've seen in Portland are an inspiration. Fashion will go on changing every season, but personal style is timeless.