I subscribe to I Want to be Her!, a fashion newsletter that comes via e-mail about once a week. [Note to grammarians: I Want to be She! just wouldn’t work.] Each issue features a young woman who’s been spotted on the street in a big city looking very cool. What these women wear looks reasonable and never over-the-top trendy, but the look is usually a bit youngish for me, even in my wildest moments, which I do still have from time to time. You can click on a link in the description of the outfit and go to an online boutique or big retailer to get the details, and so far not much has been within my budget.

Sarah Burton Alexander McQueen

Sarah Burton Alexander McQueen

None of this matters anyway, because I know who I want to be: Michelle Obama. Except for a few pants outfits, like the one she wore in a Middle Eastern country with matching head scarf, I want every single thing she’s worn since Barack got the nomination back in 2008. That is the style I want, along with her incredibly white teeth, her smooth brown skin, and, of course, her perfect arms.  I can’t wait to see what she wears to the inauguration festivities.

Being realistic, as I can be at times, I know good and well that I can’t look like the FLOTUS any more than I can look like Chloe, the makeup artist and barrista who wears a mink vest over leather hot pants, or Jaqueline, the au pair and aspiring pro golfer’s wife who wears a vintage Chanel jacket over red satin jeans. I am after all, a very fair white woman in her new forties, and I live in Alaska. So I am finding my own fashion role models here in the Last Frontier, and let me just tell you, the look is definitely not L. L. Bean.

The “in” look here, I’ll call it Frontier Chic, is a mix of most anything casual you would find style-savvy women wearing Outside-South during cool and cold months; that along with labels like Patagonia, Carhartt, Arc’teryx, North Face, Filson—and boots, which are required year-round and in a variety of materials for different types of weather. Rarely does anyone seem to wearing anything newly purchased, especially the boots, which after just one walk to your car look well-seasoned.

Driving home the other night after a swim and dinner with my grandson, Sam, I spotted the young woman who cuts my hair. She’s also a musician and sings and plays bass in a band. She was walking her dog and wearing Carhartt basic brown coveralls (here it’s the quilted-lining version) with a black and white scarf tucked in at the neck. She has long dark hair, and she wasn’t wearing a hat because it wasn’t horribly cold or windy.  At work she favors short black dresses or skirts and cowboy boots. Probably Ariat.

Friday night at the annual meeting of KBBI, Homer’s outstanding  public radio station, a new board member, an athletic 30-something woman, was wearing a short black ski skirt over leggings, a white turtleneck, black ski vest, and a yummy hot pink light wool scarf knotted at the neck. I’m guessing Sorel boots.

I was in The Fringe the other day. Tucked beneath an art gallery, this is a fantastic clothing consignment shop owned by a woman who has six children and who, in her spare time, designs and makes wearable art. She takes, say, an old cashmere pullover sweater, over-dyes it to create dreamy colors that mimic the sky and sea at various times of day and night. Then she remakes the neck, sometimes it’s asymmetrical, and then adds a geometric pattern of embroidery or maybe sequins. She’s usually wearing something she designed and made. That day, she was wearing black skinny leg jeans, a long pale gray sweater vest with I can’t remember what under that, and wool spats made, I’m pretty sure, from sweater sleeves over-dyed to create shades of purple and lavender. And black Frye harness boots.

Patagonia and Carharrt

Patagonia, Carharrt, Geek

So far, even though I’m a cheechako, the clothes I brought from Atlanta are working just fine. I haven’t had to buy much new stuff, and most days and nights I can pull off a pretty good Frontier Chic. Except when it comes to outdoor sports attire.  I haven’t got the hang of the clothes or the sports. Not yet.

Copyright 2013-2014 Genie Hambrick