As Heidi Klum points out on each and every episode of “Project Runway”: In fashion, one week you’re in and the next—you’re out. Being that some of us are a bit obsessed with the hit reality competition show here at the Movoto blog, we thought we’d take a crack at finding out which major American cities were never really in on the whole fashion thing to begin with.
There are some well-known bastions of fashion, such as New York and Los Angeles, and some areas such as Texas that are associated with certain styles—cowboy up!—but there really aren’t any widely accepted polar opposites of haute couture capitals. So, we realized it was up to us to crown 10 places where your chances of dressing to impress are sure to meet with less success. Here’s what we found out.
The 10 Worst Dressed Big Cities in America:
If you want to get dressed to the nines, it’s looking like you’ll want to keep to either coast and avoid the middle of the nation like wearing white after Labor Day. If you’d like to know exactly how we picked our worst dressed locales, keep reading.
How We Did It
Exactly what constitutes good fashion is pretty subjective, so in order determine which cities are the most likely to have the worst-dressed residents, we went with a few different criteria. These included:
- High-end clothing stores per capita
- High-end jewelry stores per capita
- High-end shoe stores per capita
We also looked at tailors and shops offering alterations—because looking good is as much about your clothes fitting well as their price—and the number of schools offering instruction in fashion-related fields. After all, it stands to reason that they’re going to attract fashionable people to the surrounding community.
Dressed for SuccessWith our criteria in mind, we set out to quantify the most important element to a city having a lot of stylishly dressed citizens: really nice clothes. In order to do this, we turned to Yelp, a resource we’d used just recently to come up with our much-talked-about look at the 10 least hipster cities in the U.S. Using the site, we were able to determine how many high-end clothing stores each of the 50 most populous cities in the country have per capita. Specifically, these are stores with at least a four dollar sign price rating that sell new and vintage women’s and men’s clothing or accessories.
It was a five-way tie for the city with the fewest high-end clothing shops per capita, with these having a whopping zero to their credit:
- Albuquerque, NM
- Cleveland, OH
- Colorado Springs, CO
- San Antonio, TX
- Wichita, KS
The city with the most high-end clothing stores per person was Miami, with one for every 13,625 people. San Francisco and Las Vegas came in second and third at one per 14,515 and 16,370 residents, respectively.
Shoes: The Sole of a Great Outfit
Clothing and shoes go together like, well, feet and a pair of $900 Jimmy Choo pumps. So, if we’re going to be judging the fashion of a city, we knew we’d need to consider how many high-end shoe stores it had. Otherwise we’d look like flat-out heels.
We once again tapped Yelp to help pinpoint how many shops in the cities on the 50 most populous list sold uber-expensive kicks. Expensive enough, at least, to warrant the store receiving a four dollar sign rating. It turns out that 14 of the 50 most populous cities don’t actually have any stores that fit the bill.
The distinction of having the largest number of high-end shoe stores per capita goes to Las Vegas, with one per every 34,666 people.
It Don’t Mean a Thing Without That BlingNow that we had the best cities for top-rated clothes and shoes figured, we had to complete the ensemble the way any good stylist does: with the right jewelry. Yelp helped us track down how many four dollar sign jewelry stores each had. Twelve didn’t have any bling that would make the register explode from going ka-ching. Las Vegas has the most, with one per every 20,321 residents.
The Perfect Fit
Like we said earlier, part of what makes great clothes look that way is tailoring. It’s also something you’re more likely to see being done to clothing that people have spent a lot of money on. In better-dressed cities, there’ll be more demand for tailoring and alteration services, so we again turned to Yelp to get an idea of how many there were in each big city. We were surprised by how many places do this sort of thing.
The lowest per capita city in this respect, El Paso, has a mere four places that provide this service for its 665,568 residents. At the other extreme of the spectrum, Atlanta has 86 for the 432,427 that call it home.
There are lots of people who love fashion, then there are those who take their passion and make a living out of it. These style-obsessed folks attend fashion school to learn all aspects of making clothes, from design to marketing to actually making garments, shoes, and accessories. As we said at the outset, we looked at cities that have schools offering these types of courses because they’re most likely to attract highly fashion-minded people, who will often be pretty stylishly dressed themselves.
Twelve of the cities we looked at didn’t have any fashion schools while, not surprisingly, the top big city for fashion schools according to Yelp was New York City with 28.
Putting It All Together
To generate our final list of the 10 worst dressed big cities, we took each criteria in a city—high-end clothing stores, fashion schools, etc.—and figured out how many there were per capita. Then, we ranked them on these individual criteria from one to 50. Finally, we averaged their rank in the individual criteria to come up with each city’s final score. The smaller the number, the better dressed the city was based on all of the factors we looked at. The larger the number, well… let’s just say they shouldn’t be expecting to host fashion shows anytime soon.