The United States of Polos?
August 17, 2012 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Are there are any attempts to catalog the different American regional fashion (hair, clothing etc) styles? I'm looking at blogs, books, infographics (in humorous or non humorous fashion) that discuss my observation that Americans dress differently, even during similar temperatures and situations or certain categories of people (i.e. college aged male frat guys).

I'm looking at things that discuss usage of brands (i.e Rainbow sandals, North Face fleeces), hair styles (shaggy hair versus spikey).

I'm not looking at an argument whether this is the case or not, or providing your own observations, but rather on some broader look at this rather than 'lol, Bama Bangs'. On second thought, that would work as well.
posted by sandmanwv to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
A Field Guide to the Urban Hipster was a cute read, although it's definitely a humor/satire thing rather than wink-wink anthropology.
posted by griphus at 8:23 AM on August 17, 2012

Does People of Walmart count?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:24 AM on August 17, 2012

Not current (obviously) but Sixties People did some regional breakdowns for that decade. It's not all regional.
posted by adamrice at 8:54 AM on August 17, 2012

The Preppy Handbook was the definitive guide to dressing as a New Englander of a certain type in the 1980s. I think it was re-released last year.
posted by Sukey Says at 9:32 AM on August 17, 2012

Maybe take a look at the forums for fashion blogs at Get Off My Internets. The comments are snark about LDS fashion bloggers, mainly, but there's plenty blog links. I'm not sure that your basic premise works though--Anthropologie and J Crew addicts live all over. It's that loyalty to a brand more than regional preference that makes tribes, I think.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:20 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are definitely regional preferences, but they're not as simple as "PNW folks wear a lot of fleece", "Southerners are preppy", etc.

But yeah, this exists, and I'm interested in it, too. The 'bama bangs are a great case in point. Just about every twenty-something dude I know back home in the deep south has a variation on that haircut. And yet you never see it here in New York. Similarly the Jersey Shore gel look for guys in the NY/NJ area.

I was at a wedding earlier this summer that was a melange of the bride's southern relatives, the groom's midatlantic relatives, and the couple's NYC friends. You could tell who was who by a casual glance. At one point, the bride's cousin from Gainesville pulled me aside and drunkenly backhand-complimented my dress, saying, "My friend back home has that same dress, and people think it's so weird! But you look adorable in it!" (it was from Anthropologie, Ideefixe!)

I think this stuff is more urban vs. suburban vs. rural and based on social class and ethnicity as well. It's tribal, not exactly regional.
posted by Sara C. at 3:14 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, with mall fashion being fairly nationwide, this is more urban versus suburban versus rural. North Face fleeces have been cool for college kids for 15 years. Rainbow flip flops with suburban college kids for about a decade. Uggs for I dunno... Almost a decade?

Large conspicuous brands? A lower class thing.

And yes, there is some regionalism here - West coast is less preppy than East - Sara C. Is right.
posted by k8t at 1:24 PM on August 19, 2012

Just had a thought about this beyond just "yeah, regional variation totally exists".

There are Street Style blogs that focus on a lot of different places. The ones I look at are mostly European, but surely there must exist street style blogs for Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston, etc.

I'd suggest looking at lots of What I Wore type fashion blogs, but they're a bit of an echo chamber, so you end up seeing lots of women all over the US wearing skinny belts over their cardigans or vintage Ferragamo flats or what have you.

Pinterest helps, too. Sometimes I look at the unfiltered "Women's Apparel" category, where I can almost always guess the social class and basic region (east/west, urban/suburban) of the pinner. Then again, Pinterest tends to be aspirational. But it's interesting to look at, for sure.

I'm not sure there's any real way to gather and present this "data" without coming off as a judgmental ass, somehow. I would love an ethnography of American fashion, though.

/off to go watch another sock bun tutorial...
posted by Sara C. at 3:47 PM on August 19, 2012

Great responses, Sara C. probably has it right, that it would be hard to do without being a judgmental ass (which I surely am). This is probably perfect for a college-humor type infographic, but not a lot of depth behind it.

I was thinking that maybe google data could provide some info: like, where do people search for terms associated with the areas more than other areas.

Looks like I have a blog to create.
posted by sandmanwv at 4:59 PM on August 19, 2012

I would love to see a street style/what I wore blog called We Are America or something, featuring stuff from all over the country. Especially if it were well-curated to keep the echo chamber effect to a minimum. It could either be something like Academichic used to be, a sort of collaboration between photographers strategically placed around the US, or just one curator with an impartial and anthropological objective.
posted by Sara C. at 5:31 PM on August 19, 2012

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