A Stylized Conversation 1

Talking Trends with Local Fashion Experts

Billings is quickly becoming a fashion-forward town and a blossoming site for the newest trends. This style-savvy mindset is partially a result of the area’s many growing design businesses and local fashion experts. Billings Lifestyle had a conversation with three local fashion leaders who have a combined total of more than 50 years of experience in the fashion industry: Katie Ellis, owner of Bottega Clothing; Lisa Wyss, owner of RocHouse (formerly Meridian Ltd.); and Denice Johnson, owner of Neecee’s. The trio gave their observations on trends in Billings, fun and not-so-fabulous fads, the evolution of fashion and what to expect this fall.

Have you seen fashion evolve in Billings?

Lisa: Well, fashion obviously has evolved. When I opened 18 years ago, there wasn’t a lot of selection. I think women are having more fun with their wardrobes. I think they’re willing to step out of their comfort zone a little more than they were in the past.

Katie: For sure, styles come and go. It’s the fashion industry recreating styles and tweaking them. The industry has gotten so much smarter about materials. Fits are a million times better than when they were around initially.

Denice: I love that women can keep abreast of fashion trends because of the internet and social media. I’ve seen a surge in local women being more cognizant of fashion and trends, and we love it.

Have you seen any trends come back around over the years?

Denice: There is nothing new under the sun, so it makes sense fashion evolves back again but always with a little tweaking.

Lisa: For instance, in the fall we are seeing unique prints that might go back to plaid. Plaid has been a trend for a long time, but now there’s a unique twist in it for fall, putting it into more structured pieces.

Denice: The bohemian look is a great example. Old ’70s styles updated with new fabrics and embellishments have been strong this summer. High-waisted pants are once again making a comeback. Long tunic tops have been in style for quite a while, but now they are designing them with a slimmer fit, a little shorter, and you might tuck the front into your jeans with the back hanging out. What is now skinny will widen; what is long will become short and vice versa. It is fun to watch.

Have you had any trends that surprised you?

Katie: I would say, with shoes, a lot of shoes have been bulkier or a block heel. When they first started doing them, they looked a little odd and bulky, but now I do love a little bit of the block. Now it’s one of my favorite things.

Denice: We’ve seen recently the attempt to go back to more structured fabrics that don’t have stretch in them. Denim with no stretch. Dresses that are made of stiffer fabrics. It will be interesting to see how our guests receive this.

Are there any trends that you hope to never see again?

Denice: Personally, I’d rather not see the shoulder pads of the ’80s, but they can still be a very flattering addition for some women.

Katie: Anything that’s like a capri, a really awkward just below the knee pant, is not my favorite. It’s just not a really flattering length on anyone.

Lisa: For me, honestly, I feel women should wear what they look and feel good in. There are trends that ebb and flow, but that’s just fashion; that’s what’s so cool about it. The only thing that bothers me a little bit is supporting the knockoff trade industry.

Personally, what is your favorite trend?

Denice: I’m loving what is happening with specialty denim jeans—painted, embroidered, appliqued, color blocking, studs and rhinestones to name a few. I love anything that is different and a little off course of the norm.

Lisa: My favorite trend is an overall femininity in the look because for so long women were wearing oversized, asymmetrical and loose-fitting garments. I’m really excited about the trends becoming a bit closer to the body and bringing a feminine look and feel to it.

Katie: Yes, I love off the shoulder, cold shoulder and interesting necklines. The shoulder, collarbone area is really beautiful. I also like an unfinished hem on jeans. The bottom of it, they just chopped it off. It’s been really fun to see.

What do you see trending or expect to be trending for this fall?

Denice: Peekaboo sleeves continue to be strong and will show up on sweaters for the fall. A very nice feminine touch for women of all ages.

Lisa: I’m seeing a lot of leather: leather pants, suede pants, leather dresses. There’s going to be a lot of balance between rich fabrics and these really deep jewel tones.

Denice: In the footwear arena, booties remain strong, pared back to ankle-length denim. We have a wonderful selection coming this fall and are very excited. Nothing like comfort plus style! It’s a winning combo in footwear and apparel.

Katie: Yeah, a lot of the boots are some of my favorite. We’re seeing a lot of shorter ankle boots now. I think it’s a fun style that almost anyone can do, and then I love the long duster cardigan. It’s almost like a floor-length open cardigan. I’m liking fun long sweaters and layering pieces.

Lisa: Power red is a huge color of 2017, going into holidays—the really deep red tones. I think it’s a little bit of edgy meets this femininity.