How to Spot an Out-of-Towner in Seattle

For an international city that draws people from all over the world, Seattle culture has a distinctive style that makes out-of-towners glaringly obvious. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—by all means, visitors should dare to be different. Just know that these three common indicators let the locals spot tourists a mile away.

Umbrellas

Sure, it rains in Seattle. For every jaw-dropping clear day photo of the skyline with Mount Rainier in the background, there are a dozen pop culture references to the drab weather. Still, nothing says “out-of-towner” louder than an umbrella. It may precipitate constantly, but the rain is the clinging, misty sort that won’t do much more than frizz your hair, so a hooded jacket suffices most days. Plus, the wind blowing up from the water makes umbrellas useless. Nothing makes locals grin more than tourists fighting with inside-out umbrellas caught by the gusts.

Formal Wear

via Flickr user Adam Jones

via Flickr user Adam Jones

High heels, three piece suits, and anything out of a fashion shoot or a Wall Street office sticks out like a sore thumb. This city’s uniform is plaid flannel and hoodies. Even at the Opera, some Seattleites opt for jeans to avoid dressing up. As the home of tech startups and alternative everything, it’s the rare Seattle office culture that demands more than business casual, making high heels in the afternoon a pretty clear indicator that someone is not from around here.

Pronunciation

via Flickr user David Prasad

via Flickr user David Prasad

How would you pronounce Sequim? Puyallup? Mukilteo? If you try to sound out Seattle-area cities, you’re pretty likely to guess wrong, since most of the head-scratchingest names come from Native American languages that explorers didn’t do a great job of translating to English. That makes pronunciation a sure-fire way to pick out confused visitors puzzling over maps that look like the result of a practical joke. Case in point: Chuckanut, the only location name you actually pronounce phonetically.

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