We've been served... called out... by none other than GQ magazine. Last week GQ ranked Austin as the 18th worst-dressed city in America. They say Houston (#21) and Dallas (#23) both dress better than we do... no shit GQ, can't quibble with that. But worse than Jersey Shore (#19)? Seriously. Sure I know, who the hell cares about what some stuffy New York, nose in the air magazine says about us? You should, because it's the truth.
There is nothing wrong with being cool and casual, but Austin is no longer cool and casual, we're wrinkled and sloppy.
Before you start calling me a hypocrite--and yes, that's fair as I stroll into work in jeans and a t-shirt (hey, I'm an internet entrepreneur now right?)--just hear me out. If Austin wants respect as an international city, if we want to be thought of as trend-setters and taste-makers, if we want some level of respect above being a cool place to hear live music, invent iPhone apps and hang out in bars, then we'd better start paying attention to what we look like.
Now I'm not suggesting we all need to suck it up and start wearing suits and ties; it's too damn hot, and that's not my point. There is nothing wrong with being cool and casual, but Austin is no longer cool and casual: We're wrinkled and sloppy and it's embarrassing. Here's how the New York Times described Austin during SXSW this year, "Hallmarks of ’90s revivalism were everywhere: floral prints, tights under shorts, sheer shirts over visible bras and denim-on-denim." Really? The '90's is what we're going for here?
I blame the hipsters. Those twenty-somethings trying so hard to be individuals that they all dress alike: One size too small t-shirt with sweat stains, dirty tight jeans, flip-flops and some kind of tiny fedora hat. It all looks so... well, not cool... just stupid. Not sylish, not trend-setting, just lazy and boring and GQ caught us with our cargo shorts hanging around our knees.
"Long the domain of slackers, hippies, and blonde coeds," says GQ author Stayton Bonner, "Austin has emerged as a mumblecore mecca for coastal hipsters looking to get more bang from their day-job barista buck."
No one is more proud of cool, casual Austin than I, but this is not L.A. (#2), nor do we want it to be. Why do you think the stars like coming to Austin? No, it's time to do something about it.
First, let's stop pretending it's cool. It's not. It's sloppy. Don't go telling me you look cool just to justify not doing your laundry--or taking a shower for that matter.
Second, can we quit calling it "vintage"? It's old, it's torn, it's used. There's nothing wrong with doing your shopping at Goodwill, it's a great organization doing great work, just stop calling it fashionable.
Third, let's be new and original. Dressing like everybody else is called is fine on the baseball field, not on Sixth Street.
Back in the Austin '70s, "The weather was too good, the dope was too cheap, and the girls were too pretty," Steve Earle once said of the Texas capital, "and there was no fucking way I was going to get anything done in a place like that," quotes GQ.
Disagree? You know where to find me.