Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog

« Meters Coming to Burlington Cabs in 2012 | Main | BTV Man Goes Undercover to Reveal Bachmann Clinic's Anti-Gay Therapy »

July 14, 2011

Burlington Named One of the "Worst-Dressed Cities in America"

Gq-fashion Burlington is many things, but an international center of high fashion it isn't. Sure, there's Karl Lagerfeld's island vacation home, and our state inspired a New York Fashion Week line earlier this year. But that's about it. But just because we're not uber-fashionable, that doesn't mean we actually dress badly, does it?

Let's ask GQ Magazine. According to GQ, Burlington is the 28th-worst dressed city in America. That makes our fair city more poorly dressed than other urban-hippie enclaves such as Boulder, Colorado and Portland, Oregon. But we're better off than San Francisco, Austin and Las Vegas.

The ranking itself isn't exactly inaccurate, as sightings of fashion disasters are near daily occurrences in the Queen City. Hippie ponchos are in, for example, year round. Half of the college population can't be bothered with more than sweatpants and cheap rubber flip-flops when leaving the house. I'm pretty sure baby birds live in some of the beards I see everyday. Even Burlington's hipsters always seem to be two years late to the party.

But what gets me is that GQ couldn't elaborate on its Burlington ranking! All the other worst-dressed cities got a paragraph detailing their fashion transgressions. All we get is the photo pictured here, and three dismissive words: "Cool hat, stoner." Ouch. Talking about what's wrong with Burlington fashion apparently isn't even worth the (digital) ink.

But the listing has to be taken with a grain of salt, in all fairness. I mean, this list of worst-dressed cities doesn't even consist of cities! Brooklyn, Martha's Vineyard, the Jersey Shore? Not cities, GQ. And the magazine included both Asbury Park, N.J. (#33), and the Jersey Shore (#19) as separate entries on the list, which suggests that GQ's qualms are with certain groups, not cities. (Poor New Jersey.)

So what can Burlington do to up its fashion cred? Well, saving the sweatpants for a night curled up on the couch would be a start. But GQ has plenty of tips for summer fashion. (Sorry, ladies, you're on your own — GQ is a men's mag.) Here are some items every fashionable guy's closet should have in 2011:

  • Cargo pants. Aren't cargo pants already all the rage in BTV? Yes. But GQ calls this new generation of cargos "the no-bro cargo." Now you can get the hip, skinny-jeans look, but have pockets in which to stash your weed jar and one-hitter. Practical!
  • Leather strap sandals. These are kind of like those Chaco sandals that are popular in Burlington, except made out of leather. Oh, and they cost $1760. Totally reasonable.
  • The ketchup bottle look. Who needs blaze orange when you've got this? P.S. Are those windbreaker pants?
  • Banana yellow shorts. Or just wear a sign that says, "Make a dick joke at my expense." The results will be the same.
  • Ray-Bans. You can buy the Ray-Ban imposters at Downtown Threads for, like, $10. About three people will ever notice the difference.
  • The "artfully disheveled" suit. OK, snark aside, I actually love this suit. Anyone want to lend me two grand?
  • An American Eagle fisherman's hat. I can't decide if this look is more "Gilligan's Island" or "90s middle school years I'd rather forget."
  • A grinder. Um, GQ? If grinder as fashion statement happens anywhere, it's here. Give us some credit.

Also, GQ suggests that you take a road trip with your bro and dangle an air freshner in front of his crotch. Why? We don't know. But buy an ironic NASCAR hat with a Shell logo while you're at it.

And BTV fashionistas, don't let GQ's Haterade get you down. We've still got New Duds, who make the best T-shirts on the planet. And there's that cool fashion exhibit at the Shelburne Museum to visit all summer long. And what city of comparable size can match Burlington when it comes to thrift stores? Burlington's fashion scene might not square with the mainstream, but it's here, it's unique, and it's ours.

Although this town really could use an H&M. And seriously, hippies — try a little harder, will you?

So much to riff on regarding Burlington's sad sartorial situation. But here's one thing I think needs addressing — our collective addiction to outdoorsy, technical or just plain practical clothing. Yes, we have bad weather and we need to wear reasonable footwear. But Montréal shares our weather and you'd never catch a Montréaler worth his maple syrup schlepping around in Keens or Danskos or mountaineering boots he picked up on consignment at Outdoor Gear Exchange.

That being said, I'm currently writing this wearing a T-shirt, cut-off jean shorts and a pair of Chaco flip-flops. I am part of the problem.

Who cares what those smelly Canadians are wearing anyway, Ms. Ober?

Sorry Lauren but I have to ask. What "problem" are you a part of? Is it not giving a damn what GQ or anyone else things about what we wear? To me that isn't a problem. That's living your life and not worrying about small stuff or what others think. And honestly, I really could not possibly give less of a fuck about what someone from Montreal wears. I'm guessing i'm not alone with that thought.

I hear you, Lauren. I mean, I'm an advocate of looking fashionable, but practical — that's why I spent half this post making fun of the goofy and/or hilariously-expensive shit GQ wants us to wear. But I don't think practical means dressing as if you might hike Camel's Hump at any moment.

(Of course, I wore hiking shoes and a plaid flannel to work today. I wear plaid flannel every day. And so it is.)

Montpelier dodges bullet.

No mention of ear flap hats?

I agree with GQ but I have to say that you can't put all of the blame on Vermonters because it's really about the lack of decent clothing stores available in VT. If you're not a college kid who loves Urban Outfitters and Pacific Sun, then you're kinda screwed. Please be advised that this is coming from someone who has only lived in VT for a short time and is used to having any store that I could possibly imagine at my fingertips. Bitter much? :/

Don't really think this is news to anyone. Maybe just a touch of effort in daily appearance could help? People seem to think that putting in some effort in their appearance is conforming here. From what I see it might actually constitute as rebellion against the 'VT uniform'. People seem to be disgusted anytime someone wears a shirt with buttons around here.

H&M, hear our plea!

I wish I could find the actual article online that GQ wrote. I couldn't agree more with them. Burlington VT has taken an approach to fashion that throws everything to the wind and as I'm walking the streets I feel as though it is more en vogue to walk out the door not just looking like you haven't showered in 3 days, but have made it into a frumpy reality. So many potentially handsome guys in this town but, damn, no wonder I'm seeing more and more lesbian couples. Step up your game gentlemen.

Maybe we're all just preparing for post-peak oil times, when fashion will no longer be an issue. Or will it? Maybe clothes will become a true marker of social status again, like in the middle ages.

Yes, it's a big bad chain, etc. etc., but amen to the H & M part.

Tim: I do love earflap hats, but I reserve those for winter. And Canada Day.

Lindsay: For guys, that's especially true. There are so many women's clothing boutiques in this town (all with women's names, what's with that?) but none for men. Again, at least you can find good scores at all the thrift stores, though.

Tom: Here's a link to the GQ article, but don't get your hopes up, they honestly only wrote 3 words about BTV: (Also, I'm pretty sure that no one's turning lesbian because the guys are poorly dressed.)


no wait... let's just open up 18 more women's boutiques!

Problem solved.


Glad this article finally addressed this issue. Burlington is an incredibly poorly dressed city, especially the men in this town. The women really aren't that much better though.

The low incomes and lack of decent local boutiques is certainly part of the problem, but with the internet & fashion hotspots like NYC and Montreal within driving distance, it's really not an excuse.

Only have the money to shop at thrift stores? Fine, that's understandable, but it doesn't mean you have to sport the "thrift store" look. Guys, skip the well-overdone hipster flannel jacket and buy a nice used slim-fit blazer. And PLEASE spend a few extra bucks to have it tailored so you don't look like you're wearing your dad's hand-me-down from work.

Women can help this situation by actually encouraging their men to dress like men & not overgrown boys. Even better, drop a subtle hint and give them a copy of this for their next birthday...

lol first world problems

First of, no one said it's was a "problem", and it has nothing to do with the "first world"--every nation on earth values personal appearance. In fact, the time spent by women in many third-world nations to beautify themselves through natural cosmetics, hand-made jewelry, etc. rivals if not exceeds those of most American women.

Oh yeah, and hate to break it to you hippie, but you live in a first-world capitalist nation, so don't delude yourself with some sense of higher ideals. Well, I guess you can until you max out your parents' credit cards.

We don't care how to dress/present ourselves because we're too unique for society: AKA we're lazy, don't care and that's our excuse.

It's a shame really. Burlington/VT has a great food & art culture. But when it comes to how we look most of us are happy wearing 20 year old beat up Chinese made rags. A lot of those 'fashion' items are more expensive because they aren't made by some poor 8 year old. If it says made in the USA or Italy or any major country wear people are paid a real wage, it's going to be more $ than if it says made in China or Indonesia.

Good point Chris. It would be great if more Vermonters could combine their good taste in other forms of culture with their aptitude for going green, seeking originality & recycling and spent more time buying used, attractive & high-quality clothing that is handmade, beautifully tailored and not mass-produced in sweat shops.

Just recently I picked up a beautiful American-made black cashmere blazer at the Barge Canal Market and plan to have it tailored by one of the fine local artisans such as Rigo Bros. on Church Street. So proof positive that you don't have to be rich or max out your accounts to afford nice quality threads and help eliminate excess production and child labor at the same time.

I <3 living in a city in which the douchey narcissistic peacocks are a whiny minority :D...

C'mon, Burlington is just not that cosmopolitan. It's two or three years late with the trends. Burlingtonians have the fashion sense of a sea slug; they just don't know any better, even the yunnies who show up at the farmer's market downtown on Saturday mornings. I dress differently when I'm in London, New York or Amsterdam (that last city is my birthplace) and if I were to wear the same styles in Burlington, they wouldn't be appreciated. But I loved the comments above by Carbonpenguin and MP's "overgrown boys." Right on.

@carbonpenguin--yeah, it's a city of douchey narcissistic pigeons instead. the egos are the same size, they're just wrapped in rags.

I don't know about "douchey narcissistic peacocks," but Vermont, and Burlington in particular, is run by rich people from the City or the 'burbs who come here to play at being hippies and organic farmers and hip Progressive politicians, all the while living off dad's or great-grandma's money. They call themselves Vermonters but they have no real use for the hayseeds who grew up here.

And they're so pleased with themselves! Hell, you're not even ALLOWED in City Market unless you're a fake hippie with your suburban blond hair in filthy dreds and sporting a bad attitude and a mystical Chinese tattoo and using dad's money to pay your rent in the Old North End so you can be "with the people."

My issue with the oxymoron that is "Burlington Fashion" is that everyone seems like a parody of a pre-existing look. The "hipsters" aren't hipsters, just like the hippies aren't hippies and all these morons who still pop their collar aren't, um, whatever pathetic pseudo-subculture that came from. It's like how people who read Seven Days for news aren't informed, or Vermonters.

But yeah, it's like a whole city with no creativity playing dress-up. And if I was playing dress-up I wouldn't want to dress up as a hipster, or a Jersey Shore reject, or something that lame. I'd dress up as an astronaut or a dinosaur instead!

MORDEY: congrats on taking a blog post about FASHION and finding it a way to turn into a screechy anti-Prog rant.

ANYWAY...the number one on this list was Boston, if anyone's wondering. Carhartts > baggy football jerseys and sweatpants.

H&M clothes are really cheaply made, btw, although at least they're also cheap in price, unlike American Apparel. (Less creepy ads too.)

@ Defensive Ben:

In case you didn't already know, being a Prog IS a fashion statement.

And my rant was not about Progs. It was about Lefties who migrate to Vermont. In a 123-word post, the word Progressive is mentioned once. It says more about you than about me that you perceive my entire post as a screechy anti-Prog rant. Defensive much? Ha!

ok, sure. whether its a rant against Progs or a rant against Lefties migrating to VT, it's still a weird political rant on a post that had nothing to do with politics. you can't blame everything on the left, it makes you sound unhinged. besides, lefties are way better dressed than righties. rich, city-dwelling limousine liberals ARE trendy fashionistas.

What does "city-dwelling" have to do with BTV? The hippest of the hip around here are still 6-12 months behind real cities, making the effort relatively pointless.

Vermonters should dress in Rags like GQ or 7Days.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684