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Get smart: Portland street style

By Ashley Strickland, Special to CNN
  • Portland's street style shows that it's hip to be nerdy by showcasing smart looks
  • Street stylers splurge on local designer pieces and thrift the rest of the outfit
  • Warninger's blog, Urban Weeds, features these looks and other "mash-ups"

Editor's note: There is fabulous fashion beyond New York, Milan and Paris. In this series, CNN showcases trends in threads around the globe. Blogger Lisa Warninger of shares the Portland style scoop.

(CNN) -- Slide on your glasses as you hit the streets of Portland. Here, amongst the VooDoo Doughnut-eaters, eclectic little coffeehouse-supporters and bookstore-browsing literary crowd, it's hip to be nerdy.

Lisa Warninger, Portland street style blogger for Urban Weeds, came to Oregon's largest city five years ago and has been captivated by the unique city vibe ever since.

"I've lived all over the world," Warninger said. "I came to this conclusion that there's no perfect place. Then, I came to Portland and it's kind of like the perfect city for me. It's just full of creative types, and I'm staying!"

Besides owning a good coat and boots ("a must") to combat Portland's long cold, rainy season, the locals are jazzing up their style with splashes of color, designer finds and thrifty picks.

Below, Warninger explains Portland's bright style.

CNN: What would you call the street style in Portland?

Warninger: A lot of people like to support local fashion designers here, so what I find is people will invest in a designer piece and the rest of the outfit will be thrifted. People are very conscious of where they spend their money here.

CNN: What is unique about the style?

Warninger: This "mash-up" of a mix between local designers and thrift finds. It may be emerging in other cities, but Portland is doing it to an extreme.

Often they'll go with an indie designer, a unique and cool company, or invest in a great pair of shoes, or something along those lines. They might have a thrifted dress and a fabulous necklace from Grayling. Maybe they found their entire outfit for free on the street but their shoes are from Nom & Ada.

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CNN: Have you seen any trends emerging from that style?

Warninger: One trend that is never going to go away here is looking smart. Wearing glasses, that kind of nerdy cool will always be popular. It's a very bookish kind of town and this is the only place I've ever lived where I see people reading while walking down the street all the time. People here love to be informed and well-read, and I think that kind of academic nerdiness will always be fashionable.

There is also a new trend for colorful tights. The rest of the outfit will be toned down, grays and blacks, with a very bright tight. There is some crazy neon tight action going on here!

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CNN: Where do people shop in Portland?

Warninger: There are a lot of nice boutiques in Portland that carry the local designers, like Frances May and Una. Adam Arnold and a lot of the designers have their shops by appointment only as well.

Some of the designers that come to mind are Holly Stalder, Elizabeth Dye, Anna Korte, Kate Towers, Nom & Ada, as well as Project Runway's Leanne Marshall, Gretchen Jones, Seth Aaron (Henderson) and Janeane Marie (Ceccanti).

As far as thrift stores go, there are tons here. I would say there's some in each neighborhood.

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CNN: When you're out on the street, how do you choose people for your photos? Is there a key element?

Warninger: I always look for that little something extra. They have to have something unique about the way they put their look together. I always like to see what shoes they're wearing, I love seeing good examples of layering, color combinations, textures, good styling is key.

Basically if it makes me look twice, in a good way, then I stop them.

Typically, I have found that the people who are stylish here tend to go where artists have always gone, and that would be the coffeehouses. I call it my "coffeehouse tour" while scouting and I usually go through about eight shots of espresso.

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