This is from a letter I sent to Nicole Tsong, who wrote an article in the Seattle Times about the different fashion rules in various Seattle neighborhoods: Capitol Hill (diverse but style conscious and trendy), Belltown (very trendy and dress-up), Ballard (much more casual but still requires maintenance), and Georgetown (Carhartt and blue-collar work gear).
Hi Nicole. I enjoyed your article about the different clothing styles in different neighborhoods but I feel you're misrepresenting Capitol Hill, or at least only telling part of the story. I have lived or hung out on Capitol Hill for 25 years, wearing "punk casual" the entire time: T-shirt, jeans, shaved head or mohawk, sometimes boots, or whatever I found at the thrift store. Punks/skinheads/rockabillies wear tight jeans and tight shirts for a reason: they show off your body well. We can't understand why anyone would choose to wear baggy clothes. The problem I have with the article is you seem to be describing only the people dressed to the nines at the clubs, those who wear whatever's popular for the current six-month period, who want to show how much money they have or how trendy they can be. Among my friends, especially long-time punks, there is absolutely no peer pressure to wear "the uniform" all the time. They respect you if your attitude respects the culture, not because you have the right gear. The most one can say is you should not wear something totally opposed to the culture's values; e.g., a white dress shirt (unless you just got off work), tie-dye, or a trendy name brand in large letters. Punk/skin/greaser style hasn't changed in 25 years: buy something once and it will be cool forever. Sometimes the media spotlight shines on us, then it swivels away, but we just keep doing what we've always done. There are also tons of Capitol Hillers who vaguely follow the hippie/new age tradition. They purposely avoid trends for environmental reasons, preferring handmade or used clothing or the classic granola look.
But you're right that Capitol Hillers "pick a look and wear it with confidence", compared to Ballardites who don't dress up at all. I lived in Ballard too, and Ballard style does not require maintenance, you just go to the bar wearing whatever you have on. That's from the Scandinavian tradition, where flashiness and ostentatious wealth is frowned upon. Maybe it's different among the nouveau riche, but they are resented among long-time Ballard and Capitol Hill residents for that very reason.
Steve Wright [Georgetown blue-collar] would fit perfectly fine on Capitol Hill. The jeans jacket would stand out a bit but I know Capitol Hill punks who do have them. Darcie Pfeifle [Georgetown weirdo] likewise looks like she's ready for a Capitol Hill club, although the back and orange cowboy boots would be a bit impractical for the street (too easy to get dirt on them).
Did you take a photo of two punks one morning at the bus stop in front of Pho Cyclo on Broadway & Harrison? I was the third person there. I guess my "skinhead casual" fashion wasn't distinctive enough to be photographed. :)
Sluggo is Mike Orr, a helluva friendly guy in Seattle. Email me if you have feedback.