Now that the dreaded Portland Heatwave of 2016 has passed, it’s time to turn our minds toward more pleasant subjects: Like the fact that — in Portland, at least — school starts next week!
(My teenager is shooting me dirty looks. She has explicitly forbidden me from discussing anything school-related until next Sunday night around 10:30 p.m.)
Anyway, I’m ignoring her dirty looks. Because this is my favorite “season” and it takes more than a few mean looks to kill my back-t0-school giddiness.
This time of year — way more than New Year’s — has always seemed like a chance for a fresh start. I mean, deep down, I always realized that I was going to be the same sorta-geeky, slightly chubby girl who didn’t understand the queen-bee hierarchy … but there was a bright, cheerful voice in my head insisting each and every August that a new outfit, new haircut, new pair of shoes and new pack of just-sharpened pencils was going to change everything — was going to transform me from geek to goddess. (Spoiler Alert: Never became a goddess, but that pair of Docs I saved up for all summer in ’91 definitely improved my social standing …)
I’m facing my 25th high school reunion in a couple years, but I still geek out when September rolls around. I still believe in fresh starts and I definitely still believe in the confidence-boosting power of that perfect back-to-school outfit.
With that in mind, your friends here at Union Rose have crafted a list of our favorite picks for this back-to-school shopping season. All are available in the shop and are handmade in the U.S. Most are made by indie artists, right here in Portland.
Appetite backpack: Made from leather and Pendleton wool, these backpacks have everything you could want — they look amazing, have comfy straps, include pockets on the inside AND on the outside and are made right here in Portland. ($160)
Palate Polish nail polishes: These nail polishes are like potato chips — you cannot buy just one. Well, you can, but trust us: You’ll be back for another two or five. They’re just that good. Free of the “big 5” nasty chemicals commonly found in polish (formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, camphor and formaldehyde resin), these polishes come in a range of neutral, bold, neon and metallic colors. They glide on like a dream, dry quickly and stay put for a REALLY long time (my latest color has held up through two weeks’ worth of lake swims, forest hikes, dog walks and a major house-cleaning and still looks fresh!) ($10)
Maidens of the Pacific tops: We adore these new “Live Freely” tops from our friends, Maidens of the Pacific, in Astoria. Available in two different styles, these tops are comfortable, soft as kittens and kind of perfect for everything from Algebra class to hanging out with friends on the weekend. ($42-$48)
Hubris zebra-print dress: One of our youngest customers, a 7th-grader at Creative Science School, fell in love with this dress a few weeks ago — and when we saw how cute it looked on her, we knew it had to be part of our back-to-school list. Made by shop owner, Rita, of Hubris Apparel, this swingy zebra-print dress is perfect for all seasons (pair with a black cardigan or denim jacket and some leggings in the fall/winter) and looks great on most every body shape. Available right now in sizes XS, S and M. (On Sale: $118)
Moo-Young leather/metal bangles: We love these bangles from Seattle designer, Moo-Young. Made of hand-dyed leather and silver or gold, each set comes with seven different bangles (all in the same color). Buy two or three sets and mix/match your colors! ($38)
School Accessories: We are known for our clothing and jewelry, but we also carry a lot of little accessories that make perfect back-to-school gifts. Some of our picks include the pocket journals from The Otter Bureau and Darling Press ($10); our fancy pencils from Harvest Paper Co. ($2-$8); bookmarks made from eco-friendly wood veneer from Little Gold Fox ($4); and the notebook cover/pencil holder from Bundle & Stow ($14).
Other Accessories: We also carry a lot of other accessories for those back-to-school needs, including underwear (Thunderpants! So cozy!), leggings, camisoles, half-cami bras, belts, slips and socks. Our leggings, camis and bralettes all come in regular and plus sizes. Pictured here are our b.ella socks, which come in a wide variety of colors, lengths and styles. ($12-$18 for socks)
Tiny earrings: We know it can be tough for students to afford some of our higher-end items, so we try to carry a variety of affordable (but still locally made) jewelry, including these three lines of sweet, colorful, tiny “everyday” earrings from Whiskey & Wine, Union Rose and A Tea Leaf. ($10-$16)
We wish all of our Portland families an awesome start to the new school year. May all of your dreams of being a goddess (or geek) come true! Like what you see in our back-to-school list? Come visit us in the heart of Montavilla at 7909 S.E. Stark St. We open at 11 every day and close at 7 every day except Sunday, when we close at 5.