Jack Tar 207 is a local fashion blog that’s turning fashion in Maine on it’s head. The team isn’t just celebrating what it means to be a Mainer, but keep their focus on the local array of stylish men and women in a range of ethnicities, genders and sexualities. They’ve only been at it for a little over a year, but have already received national acclaim and a worldwide audience. Besides being just a style blog, the team also produce style and product photography using classic Maine backdrops and cutting-edge styling. We’re lucky to have them representing the authentic people of Maine on a national scale. Shana Natelson, a Jack Tar 207 contributor, weighs in on functional fashion here in New England.
Define New England style in a few sentences.
New England style is functional fashion. We have four wonderful seasons, and an exceptional winter, which means that what we wear has to be ready for the weather. This means layers, patterns, textures, matching pieces together to create an outfit that’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but can stand up to the unpredictable New England weather. New England style is also heavily nautically-influenced. From this, we’ve taken washed colors, seersucker, and sailing details like anchors and chord.
How does the way people dress here differ than elsewhere in the country?
Again, I think this goes back to the functional fashion of New England. This isn’t New York or Los Angeles where fashion serves no function. If it rains, we are prepared with fashionable rain coats, umbrellas and footwear. Because it will rain in Maine. And it will snow. LL Bean boots, born in Freeport, can absolutely be fashion, and when paired with flannel-lined pants or down vests, it becomes part of an outfit that looks good and can hold up to the weather. This is where details come into play. When the weather is dreary and it’s overcast, this is a great time to include bright details. Turn up your pants to show the colors of the flannel lined pants, throw a colorful pocket square into a blazer or a button down shirt, spice up an outfit with a bright tie or a colorful scarf.
Do you think fashion in New England is underrated? Or perhaps overrated?
When you think of New England fashion, it’s mostly a drab, colorless image. But I think what’s happening in Maine is unique. We’re not a metropolis like New York or Boston where people walking on the streets are all wearing designer clothing. From away, New England fashion is behind the times because we aren’t wearing clothes right off the runway. Instead, we are artists and students and graphic designers and educators who look sharp but do it without a Wall Street budget. It’s clean edges and sharp lines with soft accessories.
We’ve (Maine) been on a few “worst dressed” lists. Why do you think that is? And did they get it wrong?
Maine is a very big and diverse state. I think it’s hard to generalize the fashion that’s happening in southern Maine with more of the agricultural, lobstering, nautical lifestyle that happens farther up north. Fishing boots aren’t necessarily high fashion, but it’s a huge part of Maine’s rich history. What people are doing now is incorporating some of this tradition into their fashion. We’re seeing more plaid, more flannel, courduroy, softer fall colors, and wool-lined clothing that has been worn for warmth finding a place in mainstream fashion. Five years ago, ten years ago, this may have put you on the worst-dressed list, but now, Maine is trendsetting as more fashion lines and designers are looking to historic functional Maine fashion for inspiration.
If you had to dress as a stereotypical New Englander for Halloween, what would you sport?
See Jacktar207.com for what a New Englander should look like.