Last year, I came across an image of LK Weiss, founder of the Maine style blog Jack Tar 207, and immediately knew I wanted to feature her in my Seven Days of Dapper series. It was through my conversations with LK that I first learned of Jack Tar 207. Intrigued, the dapperQ team started following the Jack Tar 207 collective on Facebook and we have all been fans ever since. Each week, we are consistently blown away by the amazing style and quality of images featured on their Facebook page and blog. So, we wanted to get to know more about their inspiration and what’s behind those effortlessly dapper Maine ensembles:
Tell us a bit about yourself?
LK Weiss here, born and raised in Portland Maine and I still live here 32 years later. I received my BFA in Graphic Design from Maine College of Art and founded The Portland Designer. I am also affiliated with Murphy Empire Design Studio. My foray into fashion/style is Jack Tar 207, which I founded in 2012. I serve as Art Director, designer and back up photographer with a creative support team of Tee Tappan (Photographer), LuzMarina Serrano (Stylist) and Shana Natelson (Location Scout, lighting and general assistant).
From Left to Right: LuzMarina Serrano, LK Weiss, Tee Tappan, and Shana Natelson.
What is the mission of Jack Tar 207? You mentioned in your Seven Days of Dapper feature that it was a Maine/Queer style blog. Is it queer specific or inclusive of all sexual orientations?
Jack Tar’s vision has changed several times since it’s inception. I was involved with Saint Harridan in Fall 2012 as part of the board of judges that chose the final 9 models. It inspired me to start photographing some of the amazing queer style here in Maine, focusing on female-bodied people with dapper style. This soon developed into a more Maine-ish vision, on what sets Maine apart from other demographics regarding style, and how the place we live inspires what we wear. I had great dreams of traveling up the Northern Coast of Maine and doing a National Geographic – meets – Jack Tar 207 photo-documentary of Maine fishermen, and elderly Maine natives, and what they wear and why. Limited by time and funds, we have focused on people in Portland, including all genders, identities, shapes and sizes. We want Jack Tar to stand apart from the typical idea of what American’s call “beauty.” We showcase everyone who doesn’t necessarily fit into that teeny tiny box of “modern fashion.” Jack Tar 207 does not *only* shoot the queer community. We are open to all the communities, and shoot people who inspire us, who are interesting people, and who wear their style with intention.
Where did you come up with the name “Jack Tar 207?”
I wanted something related to Maine, style and fashion, with a pinch of nautical. The brainstorming included words like Framework, Outline, Blueprint, Dapper Distinction, Materia, Textura, Fabrico, etc. The stylist I had working with us at the time, Mahlia Carey, came up with ‘Jack Tar’, which was historically used as a nickname for sailors and seamen of the Merchant or Royal Navy. Jack Tar as a URL was already taken, so we added 207—the telephone area code for all of Maine.
Is there anything unique going on with dapper queer style in Maine that sets it apart from other regional dapper queer styles? Can you define “Maine style” or provide some examples about what makes “Maine style” unique? Do you see differences between “Queer Maine style” and “mainstream Maine style?”
There’s a certain aspect of functionality with Maine style. Maine is cold and dark for most of the year, which is where all the plaids and flannel came from, and people in Maine aren’t afraid to wear plaid on plaid. Maine style is patterns and colors and layers. It’s about looking good while also being warm and functional, which sets us apart from say, a New York City scene, which is fashion without function. Queer Maine style isn’t necessarily all too dissimilar from mainstream Maine style. Queer Maine style is plaids on plaids with a necktie and argyle socks poking out of LL Bean boots. And of course, when we hit the warmer months, it’s hugely nautically inspired. Again with the functionality, because Maine has so much coastline, fashion is largely inspired by the relationship with the ocean. Bright colors, boat shoes, bow ties with short sleeved shirts. Our summer months are short so we soak up as much sunshine as we can. Portland also has a really great queer scene, so queer fashion is pretty prevalent and visible for a small city. There’s also an aspect of fashion not being in the spotlight in Maine the way it is in larger cities like New York and LA, so people feel like they can experiment a little more, try style ideas that are a little more adventurous and out of the box.
How do you define your personal style?
LK: As you can tell from our photo, we love plaid. I’d stop short of saying my style actually has a definition though. It’s a merging of preppy J.Crew meets gritty Rogues Gallery with a side of modern, slim H&M. I enjoy looking professional at all times, whether it’s at work or just out walking the pug.
TT: I walk dogs all day long, so day to day people see me in scrubby clothes that I don’t care about getting dirty. But when it’s time to go out I enjoy dressing up. My style is pretty much all over. I love a good tailored, clean look but sometimes I just like to get a little grungy/rock n roll…. hence the dark military style boots.
Shana: I think gender, presentation and clothing are all a costume anyway, so why not have fun with it? I’ve said for years that I thought I would be a really well-dressed man, and then I stopped talking about it and just went for it. I like colors, patterns, textures. I think my style is Maine preppy with a little bit of hipster and lots of color. And I love tie bars, so most outfits include a necktie.
Luz: Personal style is not about labels, or brands, it’s about what makes you smile or feel like nothing can go wrong when you wear that kickin’ set of heels. My style has a blend of my Hispanic roots with an edge. I love layering, and wearing multiple scarves paired with a motorcycle jacket and statement heels. Truth be told, if you are spending too much time thinking about it, then it’s a no. Be experimental!
How would you define the journey of defining Jack Tar’s look?
We used to ask our models to bring a suitcase full of “Maine-inspired clothing with a Dapper twist”. By Maine inspired, we meant flannel, hunter orange, Bean boots, Nautical accents (stripes, anchors, rope, ships, etc) layers… but that soon changed into “Bring a suit-case of what defines your personal style, what makes you you!”. So, there is no definition except what defines us as Mainers, and how this place inspires what we wear. This gives us a much broader range and more interesting things to shoot, because Bean Boots do get old after a while.
Have you experienced any challenges when it comes to dressing dapper queer? What are they?
LK: Luckily, no. I know I am quite the spectacle- There are not many 6 foot tall women in Maine, and that mixed with the fact that I look like a dude, but present myself very professionally causes people to question what/who I am and why I look the way I do. Either way, I accept that they are admiring me, not belittling me. I walk tall, and that attitude is reflected back to me with respect.
What has most influenced your style?
In Maine, with such harsh winters, style is influenced more by necessity than what’s “cool” or “in”. Collecting and intentionally mixing things like trendy cut denim with heavy wool coats and clunky winter boots is what makes Maine style unique. I love wearing a pair of tight fitted dress pants stuffed into a pair of giant wool-lined bean boots and a heavy navy pea coat with a buffalo plaid scarf. Under that might be a button up with a bow tie and accenting belt. What’s great about cold weather is layering!! Sweaters and scarves and long-johns, OH MY!
Who are your fashion icons?
LK: I’m inspired by the gritty Maine-man look of Alex Carleton, founder of Rogues Gallery, and Kenneth T. Murphy, owner and designer at Murphy Empire, whose closet is stock-piled with the uber preppy Ralph Lauren Rugby line.
TT: Hands down…Adam Levine.
Shana: Don’t tell her, but LK Weiss has been a huge fashion role model. She wears clothes that fit her well, that represent her personal style and that bring out her confidence. Her outfits are always coordinated and well-planned, but she makes it look effortless. That’s trickier than it looks. I also read a lot of GQ and look for people, men, women or other, who are making bold but functional choices with fashion. I think it’s important to be able to move in your outfit without feeling too boxy or too constricted.
Luz: Iris Apfel, Frida Kahlo and Coco Chanel. Perfect combination of zaney and refined, just what makes up this queer femme Latina.
Where do you shop for menswear?
LK: J.Crew, LLBean/Signature, H&M, Gap, and some Abercrombie denim is really nice. I tend not to shop at/wear things by companies that put their logo on everything.
TT: Retail: H&M, Gap, Calvin Klein. On a budget: Material Objects (secondhand store in Portland), Goodwill and TJ Maxx!!
Shana: J Crew and H&M fit my body type well, and they are always coming up with new shapes and styles, which I appreciate. I also love a good vintage or thrift shop, letting someone else break in the jeans first. My sister lives in Madrid, so it’s always fun to visit and see the fashion trends that are happening there. And, of course, TJ Maxx isn’t to be overlooked.
Luz: There ARE so many places. When I shop for the tomcat, I tend to find most of her basics at H&M and Express. However, all her COOL items come from boutiques around the country. Thrift shops and Goodwill are always fun and since we do live in Maine, you can’t forget Reny’s or LL Bean for some nice winter items.
What is the one article of clothing you cannot live without?
LK: Plain white tee.
TT: White v-neck tee.
Shana: Eek, I can only pick one article?! Comfortable underpants, definitely. Great outfits start with comfort from the ground up. Besides, if the outfit is a success, you’ll want to be prepared in case someone else sees them, right?
Luz: Leather boots!
What can we expect next from Jack Tar 207?
Big things. Jack Tar is evolving and growing, and we’re always looking forward to meeting new people, and new Maine places! We’re so excited to bring Maine Style to the national and worldwide forefront, and also providing an outlet for queer, trans, somewhere-on-the-middle folks, and generally people who don’t fit the bill of a typical “model”, a safe and fun place to show their true colors.