Thanks to nationally circulated magazines and television, teens in Florida don’t look any different from teens in Rhode Island or Virginia today. In fact, they all dress somewhat like Rachel Bilson.
In an informal survey of teens from half a dozen states, WWD heard from high schoolers’ mouths what industry analysts say every day: Teen fashion crosses state lines faster than ever via TV (particularly “The O.C.” and “Laguna Beach”), magazines (especially Vogue) and national stores (from Abercrombie & Fitch to Neiman Marcus).
Almost universally, teens reported that magazines were their number-one fashion influence. While Vogue stood out as the clear favorite, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Teen People, Elle and Nylon also made the high school reading list.
“I think magazines and advertisements are my biggest influence,” said Katie Long, who is editor of her own fashion magazine, Haute, at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H. “My room at Exeter doesn’t have any posters — instead, it’s wallpapered head to toe with pages from different fashion magazines.”
One of Long’s classmates at Exeter, Cassie Moulton, reads everything from Nylon to WWD, but called Haute the biggest instrument of fashion change on campus.
“The ‘preppy’ dress used to be very in where I went to school, but now I would never wear a polo or pink again,” Moulton said. “The preppy look is getting less popular, and I think there is a lot more fashion influence at Exeter than there was even a year ago.”
Down in Naples, Fla., Nikkie Sardelli prefers high-fashion magazines to gossip weeklies.
“My biggest fashion influences are magazines,” Sardelli said. “I love how magazines tell you not only the current fashions, but what fashions will be coming next season.”
The celebrities featured in these publications also play an important role in how teens dress. From “The O.C.,” Bilson and former co-star Mischa Barton are favorites with the 14- to 17-year-old set, as is Nicole Richie — but Lindsay Lohan appears to have lost her standing among teens.
“My fashion role model would be Nicole Richie, who has great taste in clothing,” Sardelli said. “I used to love Lindsay Lohan, but I am so over her. She is too dramatic now, and I can’t believe she denied being anorexic.”
This story first appeared in the November 9, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Style role models don’t always have to be famous. For Kristin Molinari from Bernardsville, N.J., friends have a huge influence. “Sometimes the stuff in magazines is really extreme, but if I see someone wearing an outfit I like, I’m inspired to get something like it,” Molinari said.
And what are most fashion-conscious teens wearing? Boho has been replaced by skinny jeans and big tops, as seen in magazines and on celebrities.
Jeans — skinny versions, of course — are still hot with the high school set. Rock & Republic, Citizens of Humanity, Seven For All Mankind and True Religion cross state lines.
Popular apparel brands range from aspirational Marc Jacobs and Prada to preppy Lacoste and Ralph Lauren to Free People and Splendid.
Thanks to expansion among department stores and vertical retailers, teens can shop the same way in metropolitan areas across the country. High schoolers frequent stores that have their size and price range. Girls liked local boutiques, but high-end stores such as Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus scored points. H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and J. Crew were also favorites.