Nigel Hicks / Alamy
In Anchorage, the dress code favors practicality over style.
When it comes to dress sense, which is worse: layer upon bulky layer of long underwear and puffy coats? Flashy, barely-there outfits? Or downright sloppiness?
Travel + Leisure readers rated major destinations in categories including style for the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey — and the results confirm that city dwellers fall short of fashionable in myriad ways.
But it’s Anchorage that earned the dubious honor of No. 1 worst-dressed city in America.
That’s no surprise to Miriam Jones, a paleoclimatologist who has traveled in and out of Anchorage “too many times to count” during a two-year research stint. “It’s not uncommon to see oversized parkas with fur-lined hoods and bunny boots, and people aren’t alarmed when a person wearing a ski mask enters a room.” In Alaska, she adds, men sport beards and flannel in the most unironic way possible: to keep frostbite at bay and their appendages attached.
Baltimore, on the other hand, can’t blame icy temperatures for its No. 3 place on the worst-dressed-people list. According to eight-year resident Erika Poniske, locals dress poorly for a host of reasons, some of which can be attributed to city subcultures. Baltimore hipsters, she says, bypass the tried-and-true thrift store, opting to dumpster dive for their clothing instead. And if you spend enough time in the quirky neighborhood of Hampden, you might just run into a woman wearing her hair in a real-deal ’50s beehive.
Poniske believes it’s the city’s die-hard commitment to all things casual that makes it most deserving of its ranking. “If you’re going to take time to dress up in Baltimore, you better be on your way to somewhere specific. Otherwise you’re going to stand out, and you’re going to feel awkward.”
But a reputation for luxurious tastes doesn’t necessarily translate into smartly clad residents either. Take Dallas, which Travel + Leisure readers consider a top 10 destination if you’re into upscale shopping, but which came in as the No. 6 least-stylish city.
Dressing well certainly has an element of personal taste, and this survey is based on visitors’ perceptions, not scientific fact.
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