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Magazine lists Salt Lake City, Provo among country's worst dressed

Published July 14, 2011 4:19 pm

Attire • GQ calls Utah out for its horrifying, dated fashion sense.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

With all due respect to Brigham Young, maybe this isn't the place — for fashion.

Please don't tell Joan Rivers, but Salt Lake City and Provo are considered among the worst-dressed cities in America, according to GQ magazine, that monthly compendium of hip culture for the sharply dressed man.

"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" laughed Utah fashion designer Rachael Domingo, creative director at the downtown design studio Black Chandelier. "At least somebody's calling us out. This is what I've been saying for a long time. It's definitely true. We have some major transforming to do."

In a list of "The 40 Worst-Dressed Cities in America" released this week, the magazine ranked Provo at No. 15 for the missionary look, the "worst gosh-darn uniforms on the planet."

On Thursday, the magazine's website ranked Salt Lake City No. 8 for a tree-hugger style that shows we're still "psyched to serve as 'ambassadors' for the 2002 Winter Games."

"It doesn't surprise me that we're judged as better dressers than Salt Lake City, and I have no doubt it has something with the blue in our attire vs. the red in their attire," Provo Mayor John R. Curtis said Thursday. "We have thousands of white shirts and ties. That needs to be factored into it."

Read what the magazine's writers have to say about both cities, and some of their criticisms would make Mr. Blackwell's List seem, well, sensitive. For the entry on Provo, the writer even takes a jab at sacred Mormon garments.

"The undies are divinely ordained," it says. "[But] when you are selling one hell of a far-fetched story, billowing short-sleeved shirts, monster-width ties, and painfully-visible Hanes tees don't make things easier to swallow."

Ouch.

As for Salt Lake City, the magazine's fashion arbiters think our style choices don't extend beyond the couture closet of REI or Kirkham's Outdoor Products.

"It's an understated look: promotional fleece vest, active-wear turtleneck, ill-fitting generic jeans, plaster-of-Paris-grin concealing a lifetime of repression," the entry reads. "You know how there was something creepy about that outdoorsy deacon with the soul patch next door? Yeah, that's the look."

"It's true. You see a lot of people who do dress that way," chuckled Judy Jensen, the buyer for South Salt Lake's Kirkham's, which sells outdoors gear and clothing. "We sell a lot of olive drab and shorts. We don't do white or the fun colors because no one buys them. They're [customers] very conservative."

Other cities to make the list include Miami (9), New Orleans (12), Las Vegas (13), Atlanta (17), Dallas (23), San Diego (27), and strangely, the normally hip and cool San Francisco (20) for eschewing "sartorial frivolity of any kind (like color, for example) in favor of the highly practical and high performing." The top five worst-dressed cities will be revealed on GQ's website Friday (http://www.gq.com).

As for why Provoans tend toward the look of what GQ labels "Mormonia" with Mr. Mac suits and Florsheim specials or why Salt Lakers like "the whole watered-down skier look and Costco jeans," as designer Domingo describes it, maybe Utahns are frugal as well as drab.

"Everyone here just doesn't want to spend the money to look good," she said. "And we're landlocked so we don't have that new exciting flavor coming in where we're exposed to other things."

But things are getting better here in the style department, she added. "We're breaking ground, but the majority of the fashion is still pretty bad," she said. "Yet there's definitely a stirring counterculture, and we're making statements. It's only a matter of time before the larger world sees that."

Just not this week.

vince@sltrib.comTwitter: twitter.com/ohmytech —

America's worst dressed?

O On Friday, the top five worst-dressed cities will be revealed on GQ's website at http://www.gq.com. Agree? Disagree? Post your argument on the story at http://www.sltrib.com/entertainment or send an email to vince@sltrib.com.