Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Missing the Fashion Mark in Minneapolis

I enjoy reading magazines like Elle. It's full of fun fashion information, beautiful photography, and really good articles on pop culture and things happening around the world.

However, I was a bit puzzled by an article in the March issue entitled "High Fidelity." The author, Louisa Kamps, is an excellent writer, but I think she really missed the mark in her article on Midwest fashion when she wrote about Minneapolis:
"Then there's cold, cold Minneapolis, where Scandinavians flocked in the 1800's to toil in the lumber and flour mills and whose descendants are the originator of the hipster-beloved woodsman look: buffalo checked logger coats, earflap caps, and leather lace-up boots, the higher the sexier, particularly on women. Minneapolitans are fiercely loyal to their heritage brands, such as Minnetonka Moccasins' golden tan mocs."
My first complaint is one I hear all the time from local residents: it isn't ALWAYS cold in Minneapolis. We have seasons here just like other places, and even our winters can really vary (this winter has been really warm with very little snow). The joke is if you don't like the weather, wait a couple of hours and it will change. We also have colorful autumns, warm springs, and some very hot, humid summers.

Secondly, I've yet to see a earflap cap or buffalo checked logger coat in the city - and the only lace-up boots I've seen are hiking boots when you're out hiking (or perhaps shoveling snow). The "higher the better" is only seen on tall, leather boots when they are the current trend, and who's fiercely loyal to, or even wears, Minnetonka Moccasins?

The author went on to say:
"And, as a friend reports, people here have finally figured out how to mix a bit of Prince - that other native-style power of tower - with their Paul Bunyan. Hence, the woman spotted clubbing in a Fleet Farm barn jacket, shiny Marni parachute pants, and towering Azzedine Alaia platforms."
When I read this part, I actually had to stop and look at the cover of the magazine to check the date. Prince? Was this written twenty-five years ago? His movie "Purple Rain," which was filmed here, was released in 1984. I really don't see him influencing fashion here. And parachute pants? Was this woman perhaps out dancing on Halloween? 

It almost seems like the author is basing her ideas on the movie "Fargo." Minneapolis is not as it was depicted in the movie. It's a growing, metropolitan city - and it's actually quite a mixture of cultures. Sure, there are people with Scandinavian roots, but there are also Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Russians, Europeans, a lot of displaced east and west coast people, and very large Somalian and Hmong populations. Until you have really been to this area, you can't really appreciate the diversity or honestly see it for what it is. I couldn't write about favorite cities like Paris, London, San Francisco, or New York until I had actually spent some time in each one. Many myths are often dispelled pretty quickly. 

As far as fashion goes, I almost always wear high heels, whether it's boots or shoes, as do a lot of my friends and acquaintances. I also wear dresses, skirts, textured and opaque tights, lots of scarves (silk, not wool), and fashionable jewelry. I have friends that even walk around in high heels when it's really icy and snowy (although that's where I tend to draw the line...I take them along in a leather tote bag as I'm not quite as coordinated as they are). Everyone I know dresses in current and very chic outfits, or has a very distinct style of their own. We also have some great vintage shops here with awesome pieces to mix in with everything else. I'm sure there are exceptions, but what I see in the fashion magazines I see here.

I suggest the author come to town and watch the businesswomen downtown on their lunch breaks as they stroll through Macy's and Sak's in their stylish skirts, dresses, blazers, cashmere sweaters, tailored pants, classic trench coats, and high heels. Then, check out Uptown near Lake Calhoun. It's home to some hip shops with high end and trendy clothes - and everything in between. Stop by on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll see women in the most current looks with rocking stilettos and a great new clutch or bag.

This isn't even to mention the Mall of America. The biggest mall in the country, it has over 500 stores. It has great anchor department stores like Nordstrom's and Macy's (Bloomingdale's, unfortunately, is in the process of closing), offered right along with many designer stores and funky boutique shops. You'll see many women - and men - in stylish, hip, and up-to-date outfits strolling throughout. Then, of course, right next door to Minneapolis is St. Paul, our capital (and the second part of the "Twin Cities"), which is a whole other story.

Although I appreciate the author's humor, I don't care for the inaccurate generalizations. Minneapolis is not New York City, but it isn't Fargo either. I know what I see here is a lot of beautiful, stylish, trendy clothing - and many high, high heels...and there's not a earflap cap or Fleet Farm barn jacket in sight.

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