This recent StyleForum thread on Chicago v. NY led to a rather wide-ranging discussion on the self-satisfaction of San Franciscans and New Yorkers, the lack of “style” among Chicagoans and other comparisons.

My post on the superlatives of Chicago apparently piqued the ire of others. It is remarkable how individuals are not truly individuals at a basic level – their affiliations and loyalty drive them to a large degree to do and say some rather silly things.

Here’s an excerpt from my original post:

…detractors and killjoys dismiss Chicago as the “Second City” but others, including myself, regard it as the quintessential American city for its geographical setting (situated between the Great Lakes and the prairie) and the pivotal role it has played in industry (e.g. retail, meatpacking, transportation), culture (jazz & blues), architecture and ideas (think Chicago School of economics).

Here’s a brief list of where Chicago comes out on top in my book, an obviously subjective list for the most part:

(1) Best RTW/MTM suit made in America – Oxxford Clothes, based in the West Loop of Chicago
(2) Best restaurant in America – Charlie Trotter’s
(3) Best symphony in America – Chicago Symphony (with strenuous objections from Boston, NY Phil, Philadelphia, Cleveland Orch duly noted)
(4) Most intellectual student body and campus in America – University of Chicago
(5) Best hot dog in America – Chicago style (w/sliced pickle, onions, peppers)

Item number 4 on my list ruffled quite a few feathers. Suffice it to say that in higher education one ought to distinguish between perceived brand and intellectual productivity. As this opinion piece on the most famous university in America amusingly illustrates, substance is often overshadowed by brand.

The same principle applies to clothing – beware of brand, but be aware of substance (e.g. quality). Caveat emptor.

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