Last week, I was flipping through the Portland Phoenix as I waited for my delicious sandwich at Punky’s, and I noticed something weird. Ferdinand, one of my favorite local stores, was listed as “Best Last-Minute Costume Shop” in the Portland Best Readers Poll. As someone who buys a good portion of her everyday clothes there, I was kinda offended. The blurb, while no doubt written by someone who loves Ferdinand, does the store a disservice by treating it like a joke.
Ferdinand, which is owned by my friend Diane and staffed by her and Maddie (of Gertrude Knickerbocker, Find, and Moody Lords fame), does have plenty of vintage sweaters, dresses, slips, and shirts, but I’d hardly classify it as a clothing store, let alone a costume shop. It also has the “quirky* brooches” mentioned in the article, but I wear my hamburger pin almost every day, and nobody asks me if I’m wearing a costume.
Ferdinand is the first place I go when I’m looking for a birthday present, because there’s something for everyone there: handmade, stylish jewelry (almost all under fifteen dollars), letterpressed stationery (much of which is made by Diane right in the store), adorable, durable catnip mice by Doonyaya, art prints and posters, cute boots and shoes, four dollar silk scarves, eyeglass cases, journals, stuffed animals, screen-printed tshirts and onesies, sunglasses, mugs, and even hula hoops! The eclectic selection is constantly changing, and features many talented local artists, not to mention the mind-boggling amount of stuff that Diane makes herself.
Most of the clothing I’ve gotten at Ferdinand has gone into heavy rotation, including tshirts, altered vintage skirts, and underpants that feel like they’re custom-made for my butt. I also bought a gorgeous, floor-length vintage halter dress that I wore to Jay and Althea’s wedding reception. It’s fully-lined, fits me perfectly, and has a matching wrap jacket. I paid around fifteen bucks for it.
photo by Audrey Hotchkiss, who can be hired to take photos that make you look this good
I don’t disagree with the “last-minute” part of the Phoenix article: if you need earrings to match your outfit, Ferdinand has them, and they’re five dollars. If you need a card for any occasion, Ferdinand has one (or five). If you get cold, Ferdinand has sweaters in every color.
Diane and I have talked before about how awesome it would be if every day was Halloween, if people could just stop caring what others thought of them and wore whatever they want. But to say that she “cares far more about fun than fashion,” implies that fashion and fun are mutually exclusive, and I don’t buy that. Plus, while Ferdinand may be a store with a sense of humor, that doesn’t mean that Diane isn’t serious about what she’s doing. She works hard to keep her store, and by extension Portland, awesome and unique.
And she looks great doing it.
*As a person frequently referred to as “quirky,” I am so sick of this word. I feel like it’s become a euphemism, and I wish people weren’t scared to say what they really mean. Seriously, stop calling me “quirky.” I know you meant to say “weird” or possibly “borderline autistic.” I know I’m weird. Weird isn’t a pejorative.