I guess I’m a little grouchy from going to a ski movie and seeing that the only women’s-specific gear giveaway was a nice jacket that almost any badass chica could use and use well, but the emcee decided that said jacket should go to “the woman who got engaged most recently.” He didn’t ask who had skied the most awesome line, or gone on the most amazing trip, or even gotten on skis this year before anyone else. Nothing actually ski related would earn a woman this jacket. Yep, it doesn’t matter what actual accomplishments you’ve managed to perform, you’re only worthy of reward if you’re “attached.” Can you imagine a scruffy goateed ski bro holding out a $400 Mammut jacket and saying “OK, this goes to whichever dude in the audience popped the question most recently!!!” Of course you can’t. It’s a stupid way to conduct a gear giveaway. The emcee justified this strategy by trying to tie it into the fact that women are less likely to be caught in avalanches so you’re safer with an “attached female,” but evidently the avalanche safety industry could be a little more vocal about that stat because the bro sitting behind me had no idea what the comment was all about, evidenced by his “wuuuuut?” comment. Seriously, who DOESN’T know that? YOu can tell who has read Fredston, Fesler and Tremper because the ones who haven’t probably have no idea what I’m talking about.
With that irritating episode in mind, when I read that an accomplished professional was featured in the local news blog solely for wearing dresses, I decided that it was the time to riff on the brilliant Flip the News site, which adjusts published articles for gender and race bias with the simple but effective technique of changing pronouns, and try to illustrate how utterly mind numbingly ridiculous it is to focus on women’s appearances, marital status, and looks before anything else:
Style inspiration is easy to find in glossy fashion magazines, on blogs or Pinterest but often vanishes when needed most — as you stand and stare at your Alaska closet. It’s at those moments when a little local motivation is necessary, when a stylish Alaskan could help finesse your fashion.
Who: Bill Walker, a public relations account executive and master’s degree student in psychology at Alaska Pacific University
Why his style is noteworthy: Do you second-guess pops of color? Get concerned a silhouette strays too far? Take a page from the Walker playbook; this 25-year-old finds confidence in the unconventional. Walker goes bold with colors and embraces the eclectic.
On the sartorial surface, Walker’s style could easily be considered anti-Alaskan, but it’s pretty much homegrown. Born and raised in state, with just a few years Outside for college, Walker is proof that style needn’t be defined by geography.
On his personal style: “I consider myself to be exuberant, eclectic and fearless. I like to mix patterns. I don’t really believe in rules, I guess. If you love it, it will work. I wear pants almost every day. I’ve done it since high school. I went to Paris my sophomore year, and I bought these pants, these turquoise pants. I just loved them so much and felt so wonderful in them, and they just inspired me to look for more.
“Most people think I do it to dress up, but it’s actually very comfortable. Just throw on one piece and go. I’m pretty masculine, though. Not like super frou-frou, but interested in masculine silhouettes.
The one thing in his closet he can’t live without: “I have this vintage marigold coat, like a winter jacket with a fur-trimmed collar. I don’t even know what kind of fur of it is. I bought it in Providence, R.I., at a second-hand store for $60. It’s seen me through three winters now, and I don’t think I could ever go back. It’s kind of oversized car-coat style. I love it because you can layer as much as you want underneath it.
Products/brands, etc., he swears by — and why: “I love Anthropologie but I’m really wary to order anything online. Even if you know your measurements, it’s really hard because fit is such an important part of style. One brand I’ll love is Chie Mihara. They are the only shoes I’ll wear. I’m really into comfort and really picky.”
Where he shops locally or otherwise: “Honestly, I shop everywhere. I love Nordstrom. Honestly, I’ll shop anywhere. I love Target, of all places. I go to a lot of the consignment shops around town, Plain Jane and Second Run. I used to do a lot more vintage shopping in L.A. and Massachusetts. But up here, it’s not so great.
“Sometimes I’ll go to Value Village or Salvation Army, but I don’t really have the time and patience to do the hunt-and-peck thing. But I did find this coral jump suit from Nordstrom with the tag still on. It was like a $150 back in the ‘80s. It still had the old Nordstrom tag on it. I wear it with slouchy knee-high black boots. It has a built-in belt and has a really nice shape.”
On his current shopping list: “The timing is funny, I’m actually on a shopping hiatus — well, actually a diet, a shopping diet. But forgetting about the hiatus, I’m a pretty spontaneous shopper. I try not to keep a list because it almost stresses me out. I get greedy and fixated, and I don’t get to enjoy the hunt.”
Something style-wise about him that might surprise people: “People don’t think of me as very sporty, but I have a totally intense love affair with gym clothes, probably because they’re so colorful. There’s nothing like going for a run in orange tie-dye leggings. I kind of like to dress up when I work out. I never, like, just decide that I’m going to wear sweat pants today, that’s just not my thing.”
His biggest style challenge and how he works with it: “I’m not a jeans and T-shirt guy, for the life of me. I have jeans and people tell me I look great in them, but I’m just not myself. I have a really hard time wearing them. It’s not pants. I have pants. I have these tomato-red slacks from J. Crew. I was just in Germany and got these crazy-printed pants from Zara. It’s not the silhouette.
“It’s something about the material. Relative to my waist, my legs are really muscular, so it’s hard to find ones that fit in the waist and the legs. I guess it’s just about finding the right brand.”
His take on Alaska fashion: “I guess my take on Anchorage style, or Alaska style, is that — I don’t want to sound cavalier — but I don’t really care. I think people should wear what they want, and if they want to express themselves through their clothes, they should. I don’t think Alaskans dress that much differently than the rest of the country.
“Every place has its own niche style, but a lot of people here are fabulous dressers. I see a lot of creative combinations.”
And if you’re the visual type: