Story by Sarah Melchert

Keeping up with trends and styling may seem difficult for some. Seniors Shayla Smith, Julianne Thomas, and Karsen Peterson are all students whose love for fashion is driving their future.

These students follow fashion passionately, constantly looking at trends and styles in every area of their lives.

“My favorite TV show is Project Runway, and pretty much the only people I follow on Instagram are designers or magazines and fashion bloggers,” Thomas said.

Smith said her fashion inspiration comes from social media and magazines, but mostly her friends. “I’m always looking at what their wearing. We go shopping and pick out outfits too.”

Peterson said her favorite trends now are mauve colored clothes, booties, and oversized sweaters.

When it comes to trends, Thomas said that every-day street wear is becoming very popular. “Street wear has made a major influence on runway. It used to be such a distinction between runway, red carpet, and what you would wear to go to the grocery store. Street wear is the new normal.”

These seniors are still following these fashion trends now, but their love for fashion began a while ago.

Smith fell in love with fashion freshman year when she took the clothing constructions class.

“I had to go to the store and pick out my own patterns and clothing items that I liked so I could make them myself,” Smith said.

Sophomore year, Smith took fashion merchandising, and developed a real interest for the business side of fashion. Then she took marketing and found a passion for advertising and marketing clothing.

Thomas’ interest in fashion began earlier and was a tool for a fresh start in middle school.

“I used to get bullied for how I dressed. I used to be a major tomboy and not care what I looked like,” Thomas said. She said that moving to Lee’s Summit in 7th grade gave her a new beginning, and she started to dress up more often.

“When I started doing that I grew fond of putting clothes together and wearing different outfits which then grew into me liking fashion,” Thomas said.

In high school, Thomas’ love for fashion grew by taking classes like clothing constructions, fashion merchandising, personal image, and marketing.

Peterson also became interested in fashion her freshman year. She didn’t have a big interest beforehand but was inspired by family. “My sister always loved fashion and she kind of started my love for fashion.

Fashion is also associated with the future of these seniors, too. Smith plans on attending Iowa State University, and she will major in fashion merchandising, with a focus in marketing, and will minor in business.

“I’m really into fashion, but I want to do the business side of it, like how to sell clothes and how to market them,” Smith said.

Smith said that her career dream is to work in fashion merchandising for a big name designer brand, like Marc Jacobs.

Peterson said she plans to go to cosmetology school, but in that field she can still express her love for fashion.

“You are open to wear what you want and express yourself,” Peterson said.

Thomas plans on majoring in fashion merchandising and marketing, and minoring in fine art. Thomas wants to receive a college degree in fashion merchandising, but her ultimate career goal is to be a celebrity stylist.

Fashion has been more than clothing for these seniors, it is a way to express themselves and overcome fear.

“It’s helped me a lot with being myself and sticking to what I am comfortable in and what I like to do,” Thomas said.

Peterson said she loves that fashion is a tool for self expression. Fashion has helped her confidence and “[she] doesn’t think about what others view about [her] as much.”

Although they have a lot of tips regarding fashion and trends, the main aspect of fashion is enjoying what you wear.

“You have to like what you’re wearing. You can wear whatever you want and not care what anybody else says if it makes you feel good,” Smith said.

“Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Never be afraid to wear something that you like rather than what everyone else is wearing,” Thomas said.

The love for fashion has shaped the personalities of these seniors, aiding in confidence and self expression. Fashion continues to give these seniors a purpose and a clear path for the future.