“Stylish” in the Midwest, but maybe not “trendy”

In Missouri, we are behind on the fashion trends compared to locations such as New York City, Los Angeles, or even Chicago. Even though our state is fashionably late, the smaller, rural areas are even further behind the bigger cities like St. Louis and Kansas City. In an informal poll, Rolla High School students cite several reasons that they do not prioritize up-and-coming fashion looks: mood and lack of motivation to actually get ready in the morning, preferences based on culture of origin, general apathy about style, budget limits, and the biggest reason – dressing for comfort over style. 

RHS fashion design teacher Jamie Cantrell acknowledges the lag in the current fashion of Missouri compared to the bigger cities in the US. Cantrell has a fashion degree and has traveled to numerous places. According to her, it is notable that New York is ahead of Missouri as a whole, but there are still places in Missouri that are fashion-forward. For example, small areas can influence larger cities: the trickle-up fashion theory. Even the color black was once “unfashionable” but is now a more sophisticated look such as nice black suits. 

“So in the Midwest, you’re always going to have a western fashion because that’s what attracts people to small little towns like Rolla and Newburg, St. James,” said Cantrell. 

When it comes to the fashion industry, there is a fine lining of gray; it’s not all black and white. There is a distinction between “fashionable” and “stylish.” For example, you could say someone who wears a more vintage style is not fashionable which in its right would be true, but they are stylish. Vintage is its own aesthetic and unique style. There are numerous types of “vibes” such as Dark Academia, cottagecore, grunge, business, business casual, sporty, comfy, 70s, rock, athletic leisure, denim, fancy, formal, casual…the list goes on. 

“If somebody wants to dress very crazy and, you know, more of a goth-Emo kind of look or…maybe a Japanese kind of style, or whatever. Then if somebody else wants to wear more country, to each their own, you know,” said Cantrell. “I think that’s awesome.”

No matter the fashion preference, an aesthetic is more of a style. A teenager living in Rolla, Missouri can still craft a look that is visibly appealing. The way clothes lay on you and the way that you wear them is what makes a good style/aesthetic. Following the trends of big-city fashion is not necessary to be put-together.  

If you are interested in dressing well, consider Cantrell’s last tips: know your local shopping options and understand the basics of how clothes fit your form. 

”Obviously, discount stores like TJ Maxx and Ross are really good because you can find trendy things there at less cost. Other than that, I would encourage people to just look on Pinterest and look at the overall silhouette. What’s the overall silhouette doing? And then going to Goodwill or Salvation Army and getting things that you can piece together and if they know how to sew, that’s gonna be a plus,” said Cantrell.

You might not make it to an NYC fashion show, but you can still be stylish in the Midwest. For Cantrell, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”