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Is Milwaukee really one of the worst dressed cities in America?

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Photo via milwaukee.org

Photo via milwaukee.org

In fashion, one day you’re in and the next day, you’re out. And apparently, Milwaukee is out.

The real estate website Movoto Real Estate recently named Milwaukee ninth on its list of “The 10 Worst Dressed Big Cities in America.”

Randy Nelson, content creator for Movoto, created this list for the Movoto Blog, an extension of the business focusing on lighter subject matters.

“Lately, we’ve been producing a series of top 10 pieces looking at how the top 50 most populous cities in the U.S. rank in terms of different attributes,” Nelson said. “We were looking for a new topic when the team unanimously decided that we wanted to try and figure out which cities had the least access to high-end fashion.”

The Movoto staff’s criteria included high-end clothing, jewelry and shoe stores per capita as well as alteration-offering tailors and schools that offer instruction in fashion-related fields.

“The question of what qualifies as fashion is highly subjective,” Nelson said. “So we decided to look at some criteria we could actually get hard data on in order to create the ranking. In the end, the final ranking is a direct reflection of that data and not our personal opinion of any one city.”

Using the local business directory service Yelp.com, Nelson and his team determined how many high-end clothing, shoe and jewelry stores each of the 50 most populous cities in the country have per capita. The stores needed to have a four-dollar-sign price rating, the highest ranking that considers stores to be “ultra high-end.”

“In the world of fashion, the most high-end, cutting-edge and luxurious styles do come at a very high premium,” Nelson said. “While it’s possible to look bad in a $25,000 dress, the majority of clothing that exists on that level is going to be orders of magnitude better in terms of design and quality than anything I or most people would, or could, wear.”

Valeri Balistreri is the store manager for ReThreads, a recycled fashion boutique on the East Side. She believes that good fashion is not about how much money a person spends on clothing.

“Being well-dressed is understanding how clothing fits and being aware of silhouette when dressing yourself,” Balistreri said. “You can look amazing and unique for a third of the price of retail.”

Though Balistreri thinks Milwaukee has a lot of fashionable people, she admits living in a smaller city makes it harder to take big fashion risks.

“Whenever I see someone completely standing out, I appreciate their style even more,” Balistreri said. “I take a few risks myself. As long as I feel like I am comfortable with what I have on, I will wear it.”

Catherine Gabel, a sophomore in the College of Communication, knows a thing or two about fashion. She started networking in the fashion industry when she was 16 years old and has held many fashion-related jobs. She most recently interned at “Cosmopolitan” magazine last summer. She also believes the ranking is misleading.

“The ranking was based on how many boutiques and fashion opportunities there are here,” Gabel said. “It’s true there aren’t a lot of fashion education opportunities or boutiques in Milwaukee, but what we do have is great. Milwaukee has the trendy east side, upper-scale shopping in Mequon, great opportunities at Bayshore or Mayfair and a downtown that has unique boutiques.”

“When I first toured Marquette, my mom pointed out that everyone was wearing sweatpants. To be honest, I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t fit in because of my hobby in fashion,” Gabel said. “Once I got on campus, I realized I had completely misunderstood Marquette. There is a fashion presence on campus that is classic, trendy and a little preppy. The men and women of Marquette prove to the world that winter can be chic.”

If there were a ranking of the best dressed college campuses, Gabel said Marquette would be toward the top.

“If you’re going to factor in that we battle blizzards 75 percent of the time, I believe that we would be up in the top 25 percentile,” Gabel said. “Yes, there are a lot of sweatshirts and sweatpants, but there are also a lot of students who enjoy a classic outfit: a laid-back sweater, dark-washed jeans and boots. How can a busy student get chicer than that?”

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