Tomorrow I am flying up the coast for a quick trip to Washington. One thing that you can never ever count on in the Pacific Northwest is the weather. Since the whole point for most travelers visiting this beautiful region is to either spend some time in Seattle or explore the natural beauty, it becomes pretty crucial to dress for this unpredictable weather. As a 20 year native of the PNW, I would say I have learned through trial and error how to properly dress for whatever surprise the Evergreen State has waiting for you. Below is how to pack for your summer in the Pacific Northwest.
Bring warm-weather clothes
No other destination’s summer beats a sunny Pacific Northwest summer. I would take a summer there over here in Los Angeles any day. Basically what I’m saying is, there are some really nice days, which make the already beautiful scenery light up like nothing you’ve ever seen. Bring your shorts, your summer dresses, sandals, and swim suits! I guarantee if you are there in July or August (and sometimes even lucky days in May, June, and September!) you will be wanting them. Grab some sunscreen and head over to the nearest lake to jump on a speed boat and relax!
Bring cold-weather clothes
Despite everything I just said, you are still in the Pacific Northwest. It rains. It rains a lot (though maybe less than we lead on…). Count on some chillier days, even in August. Although Washingtonians and Oregonians may be out in their shorts and flip flops on those 60 degree days, chances are you won’t be (unless you’re from up North, in which case, disregard this section!). Bring a sweater or two, some long pants, and maybe even throw in a light beanie to fit in with the hipsters. Flannels button-downs are worn year-round here (a throwback to our time in the grunge spotlight) and work perfect as a cozy cover-up on those days you aren’t quite sure about.
Prepare for the rain
Chances are, even in the middle of August, it will rain on your trip. Be prepared for it. This means bring boots with a material (such as leather) that can handle it. I can’t tell you the number of suede shoes I have ruined from wearing them in the rain. A jacket with good wicking abilities is also recommended so you don’t end up completely soaked.
Pro tip: Practically only tourists use umbrellas in the PNW. Living in Southern California now, I may just choose to look like a tourist on my next trip. But if you are trying to look like a local, ditch the umbrella. A little rain never hurt nobody!
One of the prime activities in the PNW is exploring the great outdoors! Whether you are just planning on a quick hike or are adventuring on a full-on camping trip (in which case you are going to need a whole other packing list!) you are going to want to come prepared. Throw in your Nikes, yoga pants, and a Columbia, Patagonia, or North Face jacket if you want to fit in on the trails. The style in the Northwest very much reflects the outdoor lifestyle and is just about as casual as one can get.
Picking out your perfect going out look really depends on where you will be spending your time. In a small to mid-sized town black jeans, a nice top and a pair of heels will lead you to be one of the better-dressed individuals in the room. However, going out in the bigger cities such as Seattle, Portland, or Bellevue people tend to dress up on Friday and Saturday nights. Though it is still the Northwest, so the casual-hipster vibe is still lingering allowing you to get away with dressing not quite as lavish as many other major cities imply.
Want my full packing list? Click here for the checklist so you don’t forget anything!