Where do the most fashionable teen-agers in the United States live? According to Teen Magazine, girls with style live in small towns and suburbs - not in the acknowledged fashion capitals of New York City or Los Angeles.
That's good news for Heidi Fancher of Hyattsville, Md. and Lauren Kadlubowski of Finksburg, Md. who are among the 30 best-dressed teen-agers in the nation featured in the January issue of Teen. The young women sent in photographs to a fashion contest and were chosen out of 672 entrants.
"We like to think of most teens as pretty fashion savvy," says Lori Moore, special events coordinator for Teen, about the number of chic small-town winners. Moore says there were no differences in the ways teens dressed from coast to coast. The biggest trends were stirrup pants and denim.
"The one thing that was surprising was the number of entries looking sophisticated and dressed up," says Moore. "We don't know if it is the way they actually dress, but it does seem they take a good, hard look at trends."
Heidi Fancher, 16, sent in a studio shot wearing a denim jacket, jeans and turtleneck. What made her outfit stand out, she thinks, was the Chanel-style chain belt she wore with a matching hair accessory.
Fancher, a junior in Silver Spring, says she was "very shocked" when she learned she won. "Everyone was like wow, I'm so happy for you," says Fancher about her classmates' reaction.
Fancher is a serious fashion enthusiast. She serves on Woodward & Lothrop's Fashion Advisory Board at Metro Center in Washington, D.C. Participating on the board teaches her about fashion trends and modeling. She also works in the store's junior department at least one Saturday each month. With her employee discount, she shops mostly at Woodies' Esprit boutique within the store. She also enjoys second-hand finds such as oversized men's shirts in vintage boutiques.
Fancher was daring enough to, with her friend, be the first at their school to wear wigs. Fancher favors a bob wig similar to that worn by top model Naomi Campbell. "It was sort of like a dare the first time we wore them," says Fancher. She also has a fake ponytail she wears from time to time.
Wigs may be fun, but Fancher's fashion philosophy is quite practical.
"I try to keep away from trendy styles. I basically build my wardrobe on things that can really be mixed or last a long time. She likes wearing short skirts, vests, and leggings and anything in yellow, her favorite color.
Fancher says her dream job would be to work at a fashion magazine in New York, "doing editorials on fashions that are in." She plans to major in fashion merchandising in college.
Lauren Kadlubowski, 12, entered the contest just "to see what would happen."
"I was happy and surprised," says Kadlubowski about the result. Her father took her photo on their porch in Finksburg, showing her in a cheerful green and maroon print sweater over green denim overalls.
Kadlubowski describes her style as "mostly casual - but kind of dressy" and concludes that she likes the classic preppy look best. She shops at County Seat, Hecht's and Benetton and wears both bright and subtle colors. She likes baggy pants and Indian print sweaters, and hates tight jeans. When it comes to footwear, she rejects pumps in favor of Sebagos and Docksiders.
Kadlubowski, who attends high school in Westminster, Md. says her classmates are very fashion conscious. Her mother helps her shop because they have similar ideas about what they like - an unusual situation for many mothers and daughters.
Kadlubowski's best fashion tip is to "find something that's casual but dressy that you look good and feel comfortable in." She doesn't want to make fashion her career. "Right now I'm tending toward engineering or teaching," says the eighth grade honor student.
Teen-age fashion may be fun, but it's a major investment in cash, both girls agree. According to a Rand youth poll, teen-age girls use allowance and wages to spend 11 billion on fashion and beauty items each year. With a female teen-age population of approximately 12 million, that expenditure averages out to about $917 per girl.
"I try to keep away from spending a lot because I know I'd go crazy," says Fancher. Still, she spends about $3,000 a year on clothes. Kadlubowski buys clothes regularly with her allowance and baby-sitting earnings, but does not know how much she spends yearly.
Here's a rundown of the clothes that are popular at Maryland middle and high schools, according to Heidi Fancher and Lauren Kadlubowski:
TO KEEP WARM
* "Starter" athletic jackets featuring pro basketball and football team insignias
* Columbia ski jackets
* Reversible, brightly-colored jackets
* Leather coats
ON THE FEET
* Reeboks and Nikes
* Black army-style boots
* Asics athletic shoes
* Indoor soccer shoes
* Flat pumps
IN THE CLASSROOM
* Suede mini skirts
* Anything Benetton, Gap or Esprit
* Lycra blend leggings
* Rugby shirts
* Indian print sweaters
* Guess jeans
* Black worn with bright colors
* Neon colors