Often, it takes an outsider to see the familiar with fresh eyes. Take Maine’s fashion sense (don’t laugh), as an example. Few Mainers would refer to the state’s residents as stylish trendsetters, but recent New York City transplant Laura Serino sees it differently.

“I love that nothing is forced here,” Serino said. “Everyone seems to throw on clothes and look good. People think of Maine, and they think of Buffalo plaids and Bean boots. And there’s truth to that. Here, people know who they are and dress because it’s functional and it looks good.”

In June, Serino teamed up with friend and photographer Nate Philbrick to launch Portland’s first street-style blog, Fore Front Fashion. While such blogs have become a staple of the fashion scene in larger metropolitan areas, this is the first such endeavor to chronicle the looks spotted on Portland’s cobblestone streets.

“In New York, street-style blogs were a big deal,” said Serino, who works as a copywriter for L.L. Bean. “I read those a lot, because what you see on the street is more accessible than what you see in fashion magazines.”

Serino and Philbrick aren’t the only ones who see something unique in Maine’s sense of style. Portland-based wedding photographer Emile Sommer and her team launched a blog earlier this summer called Love & Lobster, which offers style inspiration and planning tips for brides preparing for nuptials on the coast.

Right now, the site is almost exclusively focused on Maine, but eventually Sommer intends to expand the site to encompass more of New England.

“There’s definitely a certain type of person who gets married in Maine,” said Sommer, who moved to Portland from Washington, D.C., six years ago. “They’re not trying to re-create a New York wedding or a California wedding. They’re not trying to overdo it. There’s never a pretentious air.”

These down-to-earth yet beautiful celebrations get plenty of play on the site, particularly in the “Love Stories” entries, which showcase the photojournalism images shot by the Emilie Sommer team alongside wedding descriptions written by the bride and groom.

The blog also includes posts about fashion and accessories, profiles of vendors and photo collages providing inspiration with themes such as stripes, preppy, campy and, of course, beachy.

When it comes to the attire of wedding attendants, Sommer said, “for the most part, guys are wearing suits and Vineyard Vines ties and top-siders. And women wear cocktail dresses.”

This casual elegance mirrors what the Fore Front Fashion blog is discovering in Portland. Serino and Philbrick aren’t paparazzi-style bloggers who lurk in the bushes and surreptitiously snap photos of their subjects. Instead, they take a more journalistic approach by obtaining permission before shooting away and also asking a few questions.

“We make a habit of walking around and stopping people,” Serino said. “I think getting a little info about their personality adds to the appeal.”

Those profiled on the blog include the owners of fashion boutiques plus numerous trendsetters that the duo notices on their frequent strolls. These real-life fashion plates sport looks that range from sleek and preppy to funky and found.

When it comes to her own style, Serino says it’s been altered by her short time in Maine.

“I wear a lot less heels,” Serino said. “I’ve become this weird New York/New England hybrid. I’m more interested in the basics and a few investment pieces. I’ve been really influenced by the Maine style.”

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

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