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Taking a trip to the wonderful and quirky city of Portland, Oregon? We’ve got packing tips and clothing suggestions to help you enjoy your time to the fullest! Find out what to wear in Portland year round!
What to Wear in Portland Year-Round
Written By: Rachel Campbell and Angela Sterley
Keep Portland weird? Yes, please!
Portland, Oregon is easily one of the most well known- and visited cities of the Pacific Northwest. A city loved by pretty much everyone who visits, it is a must visit during your NorthWest vacation.
Nestled between two mountain ranges and within driving distance of the coast and a famous gorge full of waterfalls and hiking opportunities, you’ll find that Portland attracts those who love the outdoors like a moth to a flame.
You’ll also find that the city offers a lot more than opportunities to be outside in nature. Here you’ll find great eats, plenty of shopping, various festivals a few fantastic outdoor experiences just outside of the city, concerts, a vibrant coffee shop culture, and lots of fun events to take part in.
You can travel all over the Pacific Northwest and you won’t find a city anywhere that’s like Portland! And for many that’s a good thing.
Portland Clothing Style
The residents of Portland (called Portlanders) love the fact that they’re known for being a bit different when it comes to dress and style. Once you land (or drive into) the city, you’ll most likely find yourself feeling as if you’ve traveled back in time to the 1990s.
When in doubt, you can always wear plaid and distressed jeans. The hipster look is also popular, so bring out your skinny jeans and oversized tops. Throughout the year, you’ll find the locals out and about having fun at an outdoor concert or two with a craft beer in their hand while rocking their tie dye shirts and scrunchies.
Always research the weather before your trip. Once you’ve checked the weather forecast, you can create a travel capsule wardrobe, which should easily fit in a carryon suitcase with the help of packing cubes to compress your clothing.
Should I pack jeans when traveling? Find out here!
What to Wear in Portland in Spring
In Portland, you’ll find that Spring is when people start to come out of their houses to enjoy daily walks again. That’s because Spring is when the temperatures finally start to rise, though slowly at first.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for spring travel:
- Feminine Clothing Trends for Spring
- How to Layer a Summer Dress for Spring
- Spring Basic Travel Wardrobe
- Best Shoes for Traveling in Spring and Fall
Generally speaking you’ll find temperatures in the 50s, 60s and then gradually into the 70s by June. You’ll still find plenty of rain during Spring as well, but you’ll also find that the daily fog has started to make way for sunshine to peak through again.
Portland Packing List for Spring
In terms of what to wear in Portland in spring, it’s is all about scarves, layers, light sweaters and boots. Because spring in Portland is a bit on the nippy side, you’ll find that you’ll have to wait a little longer before you dive into your closet and dig out your favorite sundress.
Though you may not be able to wear that dress, you can certainly wear items with lots of color! Colorful outfits (think purple, blues, greens and pinks) go great with the springtime flowers that line both the residential and commercial buildings throughout the city.
Take a look at these sundress outfits that transform an everyday summer dress!
What to Wear in Portland in Summer
It can get warm in Portland. Think southern California summer weather. Unlike San Francisco or Seattle, Portland is further from the coast, so the weather can reach the high 80s. However, some summers have stayed in the perfect 70s, so it also depends on the year.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for summer travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Summer
- Cute Summer Dresses
- Beach Sandals for Hot Weather Vacations
- 3-Day Weekend Getaway Outfits for Summer
There will be plenty of sunshine, so plan to pack a typical summer wardrobe. However, if you intend on visiting the coast or the mountains, bring a light layer as it may be cooler.
Portland Packing List for Summer
When planning what to wear in Portland during summer, it’s easily understandable if you’d like to stand out a bit and wear some current fashions instead of those that made the 90s such a hit.
If you love a good maxi, then you’ll want to pack a few into your carry-on. The key with any maxi skirt is to pick colors and patterns that easily go with multiple tops.
Tired of traveling with basics in solid colors? These tips on mixing prints are a must-read!
This way you can combine one skirt with a few different tank tops and short-sleeve shirts to make several different outfits. Don’t forget a pair or two of shorts, too.
You’ll also want to back a bathing suit. Though Portland isn’t a seaside town, there are lots of parks with river access to enjoy. Also, you’ll find tons of outdoor events and when the temperature is approaching 100°F, you’ll be more than happy that you brought your favorite bikini with you.
Here are the best swimwear trends of the season!
In terms of shoes, your best option is a pair of sandals for walking around town. If you plan on doing any type of hiking, especially in the Columbia River Gorge about a half hour outside of town, you’ll want to make sure that you wear a good pair of hiking shoes.
Even though it’s summer and the spring rains are mostly, if not all, gone, the trails can still be a little wet, or at least a little thin and rocky. This is where a good pair of shoes comes into play when deciding what to wear in Portland.
Try to bring some beach sandals, you can also use some of them for trips away from the sea, too!
What to Wear in Portland in Fall
With October marking the start of fall weather in Portland, you’ll find that the hot days of summer quickly leave and in turn make way for days full of fog and lower temperatures. These temperatures start off in the 70s and 60s and then drop further down into the 50s.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for autumn travel:
- How to Pack for Trips with Mixed Weather
- How to Layer Clothes
- Use a Summer Dress to Pack Light in Fall
- Best Shoes for Traveling in Spring and Fall
Even though most of your falls days will see at least some morning fog, there are still some bright sunny days hanging around.
Portland Packing List for Fall
Similar to spring, the fall season prompts visitors and locals to bring out their scarves, hats, boots and fun layers. You’ll also find that people love to wear leggings during every season.
The only true difference you’ll see between the seasons is that during fall, reds, browns, tans and blacks are the main colors used when styling an outfit. Keep this in mind when choosing what to wear in Portland.
Here are the best leggings for women who travel!
A plaid top will totally fit with the Portland 90s vibe. Layer with an infinity scarf and pair with jeans and knee high boots for a classic fall look.
If you plan on enjoying outdoor activities, bring thicker leggings and tops, as the mountains and trails can get colder.
Ankle boots are so versatile, you can’t go wrong with them! Here are the best ankle boots for fall!
What to Wear in Portland in Winter
Chilly but moderate weather dominate Portland’s winter with temperatures often in the 40’s and low 50’s, and some days into the 30’s. Typically the city sees a lot of rainy and cloudy days with the occasional winter sun popping through.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for winter travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Winter
- How to Pack for Cold Weather
- How to Stay Warm in Cold Weather (without the bulk)
- The Best Travel Shoes for Winter
Each winter tends to also see a few snow days but rain is much more common and should be expected on any visit to the city during the winter season.
Portland Packing List for Winter
Portland takes on the Northwest style and locals are seen wearing waterproof clothing, specifically in their footwear and outerwear. Rain boots are not uncommon on the wet days and thinner layers are often piled on under heavier outerwear in the winter months.
Muted and neutral colors are the most common this time of year to blend in with the gray surroundings, though pops of color are brought out on sunnier days as well.
What are the neutral colors clothing? Read this post!
The key to knowing what to wear in Portland during the cold winters is to dress in layers. While you will certainly want a coat during your outdoor adventures in the city, indoor activities such as museums will leave you burning up if you walk in dressed for Oregon’s winter. Dressing in layers will allow you to adjust accordingly.
Comfortable, closed toed walking shoes are also recommended while sightseeing. If the forecast calls for rain, which is common during the winter months, ensure your shoes are waterproof along with your outerwear.
Snow days are not common but do generally occur every year. If the forecast calls for snow during your trip be sure to also include snow boots, heavy socks, and waterproof gloves in your suitcase.
See our picks for the best waterproof boots for women!
What to Pack for Portland: Essentials
Throughout the year, you’ll find various festivals within Portland and in the surrounding towns. Because these festivals do take place outside in the elements, you’ll want to dress accordingly.
When deciding what to wear in Portland for spring and fall, we’re talking about light layers that you can easily take off and then put back on if you change your mind. Pair these top layers with a thick legging or a pair of jeans and not only do you look good, but you’re comfortable as well. For summer, go for shorts, a tank, and sandals.
- Layers– The key to a successful day out is the use of layers instead of one light shirt and a heavy jacket. A fun outfit to style is a light cotton long-sleeved shirt that’s lays flat against your body, a slightly lose sweater top and a zip up jacket.
- Leggings– Though you could pack a pair of jeans, you’ll find that most women in Portland, and in Oregon in general, favor leggings instead. A great pair of thick cotton leggings can be worn with pretty much anything, are super easy to pack and take very little space in a carry-on.
- Boots– Because boots come in so many different styles, you’ll have an endless amount of choices. However, if you’re looking to bring only one pair with you (which you should wear on your flight rather than try to pack) then you’ll want to heavily consider a boot that extends all the way to right underneath your knee, or at least mid-calf. This way you’ll not only stay warm, but your leggings will stay dry even when you’re trying to hop around the endless mud puddles that both seasons are known for.
- Sandals– For summer, sandals will be your go-to shoe of choice. Wear them during trips to the beach and the coast, or wear them around the city or to music festivals.
Here are comfortable walking sandals that are stylish, too!
Whether you’re looking for the glamour of Hotel deLuxe or a spooky night in a haunted old brothel such as the White Eagle, Portland has choices for all tastes. Ranging from chain boutique hotels such as the Ace to cozy Airbnbs by the river. Some of the city’s most notable hotels include The Nines and Hotel Vintage.
Though most visitors opt to stay at a hotel in the downtown area, there are other ways to comfortably rest your head at night. One such way that has been growing in popularity recently is the use of Airbnbs.
When renting an Airbnb, you’ll get much more out of your stay then you would with a classic hotel room. Most people who decide to stay in an Airbnb do so because of access to a kitchen. Sign up here for a free $40 credit!
I prefer to book “the entire home” instead of opting for shared accommodation on Airbnb. Aside from safety, I also like to feel like I’m living in the destination. It’s a small taste of local life plus you get more amenities than you would at a hotel such as a kitchen and washing machine.
Read these Airbnb tips for more info!
Though renting a car, or driving into the city really is the best transportation route to take, there are plenty of public transportation options you can choose from. These range from bicycles that you can rent, the Portland Streetcar, a public bus service with lots of different routes and the fun Max Light Rail.
Their MAX light rail has 97 stations through the city with each line connecting through downtown. The city also has a streetcar, buses, and utilizes ride-share apps giving a wide array of options to travelers trying to get around the city.
What to Do in Portland
As long as you don’t mind being outside nearly all of the time, you’ll find some fantastic festivals to partake in during both seasons. In Spring you’ll find lots of locations within a short drive of Portland to view the beautiful tulips. But if you really want to see a lot at once, then you’ll want to head over to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm.
During summer, you can easily venture off to the beach in about an hour’s drive. In fact, Cannon Beach is a Portland local’s favorite and you’ll find lots of Portlanders using the weekend as an excuse to hit the sand.
During Fall, a trip to the Columbia River Gorge is a must. Here you’ll find a plethora of waterfalls as well as lush mountains hiking trails to transverse. When you’re ready to sit down and eat, you’ll find a few small cafes located near some of the more popular Gorge attractions.
From cozy cafes to trendy restaurants and breweries, Portland has endless options even in the winter months. Visit Portland staples such as Voodoo Doughnut and Stumptown Coffee Roasters or take in the views from the iconic Pittock Mansion. Art lovers should also pay a visit to the Portland Art Museum which houses pieces ranging from ancient times to present day.
Going for a hiking? If you need the best hiking gear for women, check this out!
What are your tips on what to wear in Portland? Share and comment below!
For more North America packing tips, please read:
- What to Pack for Seattle
- What to Wear in Las Vegas
- What to Wear in Vancouver
- What to Wear in California
Suggested travel resources:
- Lonely Planet USA (Country Guide)
- Lonely Planet Washington, Oregon & the Pacific Northwest (Travel Guide)
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Author Bio: Rachel Campbell is a professional travel writer who has been slowly exploring the globe since 2013. Though her heart belongs to Florida and the Caribbean, she can still be found making snow angels in the cold white north from time to time. For more, follow The Florida Living Magazine and her adventures on Instagram.
Author Bio: Angela Sterley is a Los Angeles-based travel and lifestyle blogger. She has a background in the fashion industry and is on a mission to explore all the world has to offer. Join her adventures on Destination Drifter and follow her on Instagram.