Insider’s Guide 2019: Fashion

An Emmy-Winning Costume Designer Reveals Her Must-Hit Portland Style Spots

Portlandia vet and Psychic Bar co-owner Amanda Needham steers us through the city’s style scene.

By Fiona McCann March 26, 2019 Published in the April 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Amanda Needham

two-time Emmy-winning costume designer best known for dressing up Fred, Carrie, and friends for eight seasons of Portlandia, Amanda Needham knows a thing or two about where to shop in this town. If there’s one address that covers some of the best of Portland design, she says, it’s 811 East Burnside, the building that’s home to Kate Towers, Nahanni Arntzen, and Holly Stalder’s Haunt, among other all-locally owned boutiques and studios. “It’s definitely a spot that I don’t think a lot of people really know about,” Needham says. But, she advises, plan your visit with care: “[The designers] move back and forth and have strange hours, but if you can catch them, it’s such a magical experience.”

Needham, who recently wrapped the first season of new Hulu show Shrill, also calls out that trio of designers for their stock of plus-size fashions, some of which were worn by Shrill star Aidy Bryant as she played a fictionalized version of writer and journalist Lindy West. “The hardest thing in the world right now is finding decent plus-size pieces. Holly, Kate, and Nahanni all had pieces that ended up working,” she said. “That felt like a score, to have Portland designers on the forefront of a bigger conversation about size.”

Frances May (left), Red Fox, and Wildfang

Other local go-tos include downtown boutique Frances May which Needham loves for its “current, up-to-date fashion. You can get something bohemian from Ulla Johnson or something a little bit more structured,” she says. “There’s a wide range, which I think is really important to have in a boutique.”

For another local fashion phenom, she calls out the celebrated feminist fashion brand Wildfang. “I’m obsessed with them and everything they stand for politically,” she says of the publicly progressive clothing company that specializes in tomboy attire. “But I also really love the suits they carry, and their jumpsuits!”

While hunting down looks for shows, Needham says she often finds herself sprinkling in “a little bit of vintage.” Her pick from our plethora of vintage clothing stores is SE Woodstock’s Red Fox. “They have such a great collection,” she says.

And in a break from high fashion, she also points to a Southeast Portland pit stop that’s been around for some 70-plus years and still yields wardrobe finds she doesn’t see elsewhere: “I love Andy and Bax for a quick throwback to army, some accessories, or an old sailor shirt. There are unique pieces in there.”

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