Photography by Chad Magby and Nino Ortiz

We are told what to do every day and are in control of very few aspects of our lives. Style is one of the few exceptions. One of the most inspirational and unique aspects about a person is their style. Fashion penetrates stereotypes and shows an individual’s creativity and inspiration in life.

Our style tells our story.

What a special concept. We choose how we tell our story through the way we carry ourselves in public. We create the image that will become a first impression. Gentlemen, this is the exact reason ladies do not want to be rushed when we are searching for the perfect outfit to wear to meet your best friends. We want to make a good impression. Who doesn’t?

One of the great aspects of  Seattle and the Pacific Northwest is the wide array of styles we encompass. We have created a lifestyle where Business Casual can turn into Street Wear with a few simple changes. We work hard, and we want to play hard. Our fashion tells our story, and it’s beautiful.

There are a few boutiques in Seattle that currently bring something special to the table. Retail Therapy (Capitol Hill) has been thriving for the past seven years nestled on 9th and Pike. They described their boutique by repeating their name: Retail Therapy. I have to agree with them; there is literally something for everyone in this store. They carry many Seattle based designers as well as soaps, jewelry, art, gag gifts, and greeting cards. Stores like this rely heavily on individuals who are loyal and who want something that is unique without skimping on any of the quality. Pacific Northwest R&B/Soul royalty Choklate spends her days home from touring working at Retail Therapy helping share her love of fashion with the town. She informed me how special it is to know clients by name how excited she gets when new clothing comes in the store because she instantly knows who will love the pieces.

I caught up with Choklate recently, and she filled me in on Retail Therapy’s newest products–a lot of bright colors as the store prepares for the spring season. I picked up Shea Butter soap as a gift for a Bridal Shower I have coming up for $12.95 and a one-of-a-kind hand made wood necklace from a local designer for $28.00.

I enjoy perusing designers who create custom pieces of clothing. The idea of owning clothing that literally no one else on the face of the earth owns is special. Boutiques like this cater to the individual’s story and help us feel at home. This is something you don’t receive shopping online or from large department stores.

Another boutique I frequent and love is Zovo Lingerie (University Village). Proprietress Victoria Roberts describes Zovo as “a warm, spacious environment filled with products from the world’s premiere brands…of intimate apparel and other indulgences: sexy tops, chemises, camisoles, pajamas, bath oils, candles, bath salts and lotions.” Zovo is inspired by Islamic Art, Spain, and early 70’s Rock’n Roll which gives a feeling of the uniqueness they offer. Gentlemen, it’s a win-win for you if you get something for your special lady!

Since we are at liberty to control what we wear and how we wear it, why not enjoy the time you spend shopping and researching? Your story matters, and how you look matters. We aren’t able to change many permanent things about ourselves, but our style is an expression of who we are and what we represent.

We can change our fashion choices daily. We get to express feelings, moods, and our status, every day. Style is unique in that we make decisions that communicate to others who we  are, what we value, and how we feel.

Do you take your ambitions seriously, or do you have any at all? Are you confident, meek, sexual, reserved, wealthy, poor, individualistic, or a trend-follower? How do you perceive yourself? Do you feel good about your body? All these questions are answered through fashion and style choices.

Yes, all these perceptions and observations go for you men out there as well. To help understand a man’s perspective, I called upon my friend and Seattle style icon, Gathigi Gishuru (aka Thig Nat of The Physics):

Is there something special about Seattle style or PNW style you like?

I would say you can wear some of the same things all year round because the weather doesn’t get too extreme and it allows you to be more creative with layering, like mixing and matching summer and winter pieces.

Favorite place to shop?

Gathigi: I have a few favorites: J.Crew and Club Monaco are a couple of my go-to’s because the quality and attention to detail in most of their garments is really good. They’re a little pricey though which is why I love a store like Uniqlo, which carries a much wider selection of similar pieces, but for half the cost.

What is that one piece that always makes your outfit pop? 

It’s not just one thing, it’s usually a few small details that add a subtle edge. Like red laces on some plain brown desert boots, or bracelets on the same wrist as your watch, or putting a pocket square in the pocket of your jacket. You can make a simple outfit pop without going overboard.

Is there anything else that inspires your style?

I read a lot of Menswear blogs so I see a ton of images every day that inspire me. Mostly, men who dress simple and classic in clothes that fit them perfectly inspire me.

Thanks Thig!


Some more of my favorite PNW boutiques:

The Finerie (1215 First Avenue)

J. Gilbert Footwear (2025 First Avenue)

Blackbird (Ballard)

Mercer (University District)

Happy shopping & happy living.