Alaska Editorial: Worst dressed?

This editorial first appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:

 

Full disclosure up front: The writer of this editorial comes out of the newsroom and has little fashion sense beyond knowing that khaki goes with everything and your socks should match.

And, in the 1980s dawning of newspapers’ quantum leap into dazzling art displays, fired by the color splash of USA Today, one savvy quote was made into a newsroom sign: “If journalists had any artistic sense they wouldn’t dress the way they do.”

That said, the recent first-of-the-worst ranking of Anchorage in the realm of stylish dress misses an old Alaska ethos. It’s not just the weather that dictates our dress, or some Last Frontier sense of rough-cut casual.

It’s more a matter of spirit. Many Anchorage residents and other Alaskans decide how to dress based on what they want to wear and what’s comfortable, not the venue or expectations. We know how to dress for the occasion. But often we decide on the nature of the occasion for ourselves.

Going out to dinner? How do you feel tonight? Dress to the hilt or just make sure you go with a clean sweatshirt? Up to you.

In Alaska you could see a female musher in a dazzling dress and flowing tresses take the stage at the Iditarod banquet like a model on a runway. A few days later she may look like hell, smell like smoke and have hair that would turn Medusa’s snakes to stone. Lookin’ good either way.

One is as real as the other.

The late Darrell Reynolds, one of the 34 mushers who ran in the first Iditarod, once said one of the things he liked about Anchorage was that it wasn’t a place for being too worried about how you looked or dressed, about whether a parka made you look too big.

Besides, Neal Fried, the state economist, is right. Among residents who care anything about such a ranking, more take pride in it than not.

And, you know, duct tape, applied with care, gives a finished look to that leather belt repair job. And the colors these days ...

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