Closet Patrol

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, buying the right clothes is key for these three East Coast teens.<br><br><br><br>BUFFALO — Blonde braids is about the only thing these sisters share when it comes to personal style.<br><br>Meet Tina and...

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, buying the right clothes is key for these three East Coast teens.

This story first appeared in the September 19, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

BUFFALO — Blonde braids is about the only thing these sisters share when it comes to personal style.

Meet Tina and Alicia Gominiak, 14 and 17, respectively. These sisters are close. They talk about everything. They shop, work out and hang together. But when it comes to style, they couldn’t be more opposite. Tina goes for a sexy, classic look, while Alicia prefers a tailored and comfortable style.

After a glance into Tina’s room, it’s a wonder how she puts an outfit together at all. She doesn’t even have a closet. With only a dresser to house her wardrobe, she is cramped for clothing space. So, where are they? Everywhere.

“It all fits, I swear,” she said of the solitary dresser as she plucked her favorite outfit off of the floor. “I know where everything is and I know what’s clean.”

The favorite outfit is a faded pair of jeans and a scoop-neck, white top and white sneakers.

“This is kind of what everyone wears just to hang out,” she said, adding that when she goes out with her friends she tends to trade in her favorite outfit for something a bit dressier. “I like muted shades with the occasional white top or something, but no purples or ruffles or anything too girly. I have only one skirt and hope it’s the only one I will ever own.”

Tina credits some of her classier clothes to her older cousin, Nadine, who lives in Los Angeles.

“Nadine sometimes sends us clothes she thinks we will like or look good on us. Sometimes she’s right,” she said, holding up a pair of fitted black pants that flare slightly at the ankle. She also has a few tank tops that show a bit of cleavage and stomach. “I don’t wear these to school, usually just around the house or hanging out with my friends.”

It seems that when it comes to style for Tina, mom has her way.

“My mom buys most of my clothes so she gets the final say as to what is too sexy,” she said. “But I can usually talk her into getting what I want.”

When the girls go shopping, they like to head to Erie, Pa., which is about two hours away. One of their favorite stores is ValuCity, an off-price store that carries brands they like. Other stores they frequent are Lifestyle Street Gear and J Fashions, where they look for brands like Southpole, Sean John and PJ Mark.

As for shoes, only two pair surfaced from the heaps on Tina’s floor. “I usually buy Fubu shoes, but I think I only have four pair,” she said.

As for Alicia, she owns a pair of shoes for every outfit.

“If I don’t think I can find shoes to match, I don’t buy the outfit,” she said, pointing out that she owns several sneakers from Nike and Adidas, all in different colors.

Alicia’s bedroom is also drastically different from her sister’s. Everything is hung neatly in her closet and classified. On the left are winter clothes, then pants and then tops, tank tops and pajamas. The things that can’t be hung are neatly folded in crates on the floor on the closet. She quickly finds her favorite outfit, a pair of dark blue jeans and a beige sequin top.

“I look for comfort. If it fits right and is comfy, I will buy it,” she said. “I’ll just save money from work until I can get it.”

As her mother only buys about 30 percent of her clothes, she usually has free reign. “Mom will tell me what isn’t OK and that is fine,” she said. “I usually don’t pick things that aren’t.”

She tends to buy her clothes from the same stores as her sister, but also likes to shop Deb Shops, Bon Ton and Sears.

“I’ll pretty much go anywhere and look. You never know when you will find something you like,” she said. “I also really like LEI jeans. They fit great. In the summer, I will wear tops that show more skin, but not in the winter, and only around the house or working out. There is a time and place to wear that stuff.”

They do agree on one thing when it comes to fashion: “You have to respect yourself and the clothes will speak for themselves.”