Elena sent me an email about how her personal style has evolved over the years and I related in a lot of ways having moved a lot throughout my life as well. She’s sharing five outfits as for the 1 Girl, 5 Outfits series:
Hi everyone! My name is Elena, and I’m a 23-year-old law student living in Portland, Oregon. When I’m not in class or poring over my case books, I like to spend my time trying out new recipes, going to the gym, and listening to podcasts. Mothers of Invention is my latest favorite! Each episode discusses women from around the world who are working to mitigate the impacts of climate change in their personal and professional lives.
My parents and I moved to Panama City Beach, Florida, when I was ten years old, but my family is originally from Finland. I’m a fan of the Scandinavian simplicity that I grew up with, as it pairs well with my preppier side. That being said, it took me a while to find my style. In high school, my friends would often comment on the lack of consistency in the things I wore. We had a strict dress code at school—polos, khakis, and blue jeans—so when I had a chance to wear something else, I loved to mix it up. Some days I’d show up to hang out with friends in high waisted shorts, a bralette, and heart-shaped sunglasses à la Lana Del Rey, and other times I’d be in a bright Lilly Pulitzer shift dress. The climate in Northwest Florida gave me a lot of room to experiment!
Once I knew I’d be moving to Washington, D.C., for college, my grandmother insisted I get a more city-appropriate wardrobe. We went to J. Crew and Polo Ralph Lauren, and so began my love of preppy clothes. Fun fact: I got a stress fracture in my foot from wearing only ballet flats for the first two months of college while walking more than I had in my entire life. No regrets, though; I had impressions to make!
I moved to Portland in August 2018, and in my short time here, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the city. While I felt like I fit in well in Washington, D.C., Portland really gives folks room to experiment with how they present themselves to the world. Our student body is a little bit more casual than most law campuses, so you get to see many sides of your colleagues. I’ve shown up to class in everything from workout shorts to slacks and have been met with nothing but positive feedback.
On an average day, however, I like to feel comfortable, put together, and like my true self. Now that it’s finally spring, layers are a necessity. When I leave my apartment in the morning, it might be below 50 degrees, but by the time my friends and I eat lunch together, the temperature can be pushing 70. I’ve found waxed jackets, especially this Barbour, to be the perfect thing to throw on in the morning. It has large pockets, is a little bit water-proof in case of an afternoon shower, and the color matches almost everything! I’ve also been relying on cotton sweaters nearly daily because of their versatility. They provide some warmth while still being breathable, and I’m always one to reach for a navy stripe.
Another common element of my everyday class look is a headband. I like to keep my hair out of my face while I’m reading or taking notes, but ponytails can get a bit boring. I’ve linked a similar headband, but I’ve also found that places like Francesca’s and other similar boutiques often carry cute and adorable options! This is especially great because I’m a strong believer in checking out headbands in person to make sure they won’t result in a headache later in the day.
One of my favorite things to do in my free time is to grab a scoop of ice cream from Salt & Straw. They have an amazing selection of flavors, and they even cater to people like myself who avoid dairy. On a true spring day, I love to wear a good dress, and this one from Draper James is perfect! The little ties on the sleeves are precious, and I think the length works on almost any body type.
Carly turned me on to Jack Rogers, and I haven’t looked back since. This pair was comfortable right out of the box—no breaking in necessary! The denim blue color works as almost a neutral for me, so I end up pairing these with many of my outfits.
My purse was actually sold as a wallet, but it fits my phone, cards, and a lipstick easily! I love how durable and versatile it is—a whole glass of wine spilled on it at an event, and the purse made it through without a trace of a stain.
Law schools have an annual event called the Barrister’s Ball, which we affectionately refer to as “law prom.” This Gal Meets Glam jumpsuit was the best decision! I didn’t need to worry about tripping over a long gown, and it even has pockets!! The jumpsuit is so much of a statement piece with a perfect bow in the back that I didn’t feel the need to add much—some sparkly heels and simple drop earrings did the trick. Here, I used the same purse from earlier as a clutch. I told you it was versatile!
While there are some judges who still expect women to wear skirts in the courtroom, I usually reach for pants and a blazer. Being comfortable and feeling confident is what I strive for in professional settings—that’s when I can forget about what I’m wearing and focus on proving my qualifications. I really like the color combination of pastel pink with gray, and I think it works perfectly here! The blazer is professional, and even a little bit conservative, while the pink shirt provides a little pop of femininity.
The loafers were a splurge, but they are the best shoes I’ve ever owned. They didn’t need to be broken in at all and can be styled for virtually any season. As it gets warmer, I plan to wear them as slides because they’re actually convertible! The back of the loafer folds down for a totally different look, so I tell myself I essentially got two pairs of shoes for the price of one.
These pants come in many colors and styles and they are SO COMFORTABLE. They look like dress pants and feel like leggings—seriously. The only downside is the lack of pockets, but that’s where my tote comes in! This one is perfect because it fits absolutely everything, including a laptop, yet doesn’t look bulky. A friend of mine has the same one and spilled her Chipotle bowl inside of it. All it took was a quick wipe down and a rinse of water, and it was good as new. Truly, a bag for any occasion.
(Disclaimer: would not recommend storing a Chipotle bowl and your laptop in the tote at the same time)
I couldn’t discuss style in Portland without throwing in a rainy day outfit (or two!). I’ve had the yellow rain jacket and red boots since college, but I decided to invest in another set just in case I get soaked through. I love the yellow and red because it really brightens up dreary days. For comfort and ease of styling, I often end up wearing leggings or jeans and a solid colored top underneath. Quick pitch on the red boots: they fit larger calves! I’ve always had trouble finding tall boots because of my wide calf situation, and these are incredibly comfortable.
I tend to reach for the burgundy jacket and short boots on days when I want to look more formal. The muted colors lend themselves well to professional settings, and the jacket will cover blazers of all lengths. My hair can get fairly frizzy, so I usually put it up if I know it’s going to rain. That way, if my hair gets a little wet, I know it’ll still be in its place.
I started reading Carly’s blog when I was a freshman in college, and it’s provided me with so much inspiration and validation over the last five years. My personal style is constantly evolving, and it’s great to be connected to so many folks who are on the same journey.
Lastly, thank you to both my partner and my mother for their patience and excellent photography skills.