New england fashion style
photo by Skip Brooks
Christine Mitchell is the talent behind the blog N’East Style, a carefully curated source for the style and culture of New England. Her blog should be a daily read if you’re looking for an emerging American-made designer, a must-see new shop or a peek into her artistic side with illustrations of New England sayings. I consider Christine a quintessential New England style maven, so who better than to kick off our “Maine Style” series? Take it away, Ms. N’east!
Define New England style in a few sentences
It’s hard to define it in words but I think it comes down to form meeting function. New England is not a part of the country that is very conducive to flighty fashions, one should dress for the day prepared to get into a muck if need be. There is also a lot of respect for traditional style along with supporting local artisans, be it a sweater hand knit in Vermont or a shirt cut and sewn in Maine.
How does the way people dress here differ than elsewhere in the country?
I think there are some nice anglo/gaelic roots in New England style that is unlike other parts of the country. Lots of tweed and wool. It’s also a bit more consistent than the more trendy urban parts of the country. You’ve also got that 5th season, Mud Season, that requires a little something extra in the wardrobe. Like a good yellow slicker and Bean boots.
What’s the most classic New England-centric piece clothing, footwear, or accessory that you own?
I think my grandfather’s old L.L. Bean Barn Coat. Its got holes all over, but I love it. If it’s not broke don’t fix it, right?
Do you think fashion in New England is underrated? Or perhaps overrated?
I think that it’s actually getting a good amount of recognition in recent years. Things like fisherman knit sweaters and Birkenstocks aren’t frowned upon anymore. I remember wearing those at boarding school and being labeled crunchy. And not in a good way. There is more respect for the craft and quality behind things like that.
What’s your favorite thing about how people dress here?
It’s a very honest style. People wear what works for them and their lives, they’re not necessarily trying to impress anyone. But they’re not being lazy about it either.
If you had to dress as a stereotypical New Englander for Halloween, what would you sport?
I think it would be fun to go as a Green Mountain Boy! So maybe I’ll do that this year. But if I were to dress like the contemporary New England stereotype, it would be an outfit consisting of a Patagonia fleece, flannel shirt, Carhartt overalls, and leather clogs.
How has your personal style been influenced by your Maine roots?
My family lived in Farmington when I was younger and my grandparents lived in a great old farmhouse in Sedgwick. So I grew up with Maine’s mountains and lakes as well as its coastline. In both places I learned to appreciate the tradition of wearing what works and owning a wardrobe of classic pieces that never go out of style. That along with one vital styling tip: wear layers, even in the warmest months. You never know when a chill will roll in.
You can check out Christine’s blog N’East Style as well as her tumblr, The Ditty Bag.