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Why Anchorage is the 'worst-dressed' city in America

Anchorage is the worst-dressed city, and Salt Lake City is the second worst dressed, according to a Travel and Leisure poll of 35 cities. Why Anchorage residents agree with the ranking.

By Mark ThiessenAssociated Press / June 1, 2012

State of Alaska labor economist Neal Fried displays his signature bow tie, this one featuring characters from "The Simpsons." A poll by Travel and Leisure magazine says Anchorage has the worst-dressed residents in the nation. Fried says Alaskans would be embarrassed if they had won the category, and says he believes Alaskans are proud to be where they are in the poll.

(AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)


Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage residents are apparently not dressing to impress.

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That's the upshot of Travel and Leisure Magazine's reader poll, which put the residents of Alaska's largest city at the bottom when it comes to being on the top of style.

The magazine ran an online poll asking readers to rank 35 American cities on such things as best nightlife, best burgers, best New Year's Eve celebrations, etc.

By a three-tenths of a point, Anchorage landed just below Salt Lake City for having the worst-dressed residents.

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"I think it's a little ridiculous, to be honest," said Hillary Walker, the assistant manager at lulu e. bebe fashion boutique in Anchorage. "I think dressing well is about feeling comfortable, experimenting, expressing yourself through your clothing. I think people in Anchorage do a great job with that."

Some others in Anchorage apparently feel differently. The unscientific poll was split between visitors to cities and residents. When you break down the worst dressed list even further, Anchorage residents rated themselves second-to-last, with Salt Lake City residents putting Utah's largest metro at the bottom of the rag pile.

The low ranking for Anchorage doesn't surprise state of Alaska labor economist Neal Fried, who went to work Thursday wearing his signature bow tie, this one featuring characters from "The Simpsons."

He discounts the theory that Anchorage residents don't shell out big bucks for fashion because of the higher prices for clothing, especially since he calls Anchorage a wealthy city — with a median income 41 percent above the national average.

Instead, he surmises it's the lifestyle of Anchorage residents and the city's weather.

Anchorage is an outdoors city, with downhill and cross country skiing, snowboarding, hiking, running and biking leading residents to resorts and trails all year long.

Often, you'll see people out to dinner with friends and their dress may appear they're better suited for a campfire.

"You can go hiking and then straight to dinner, and you might be at a five-star restaurant," Walker said. "You have to have a versatile wardrobe."

"It's more important to get out and do things and meet with friends, then I think to focus on being fashion-appropriate and savvy for every event," said Kris Natwick, membership director for the Anchorage Downtown Partnership.

And there's a good reason you see women favoring a pair of bunny boots over heels in the winter, which can stretch from October to May.

"You're not going to wear high heels out when it's been snowing six, eight, 10, 12 inches," Natwick said. "You're going to dress appropriately for the weather."

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