Today, Iowa City Patch interviewed local singer, fashionista and social media persona Lauren Murphie, 22, of Iowa City about her new fashion blog called Lauren's Fine City, the new emergence of Iowa City fashion, and the importance of fashion in her life.
Iowa City Patch: Now I want to start this interview with two disclaimers. First, when it comes to my own fashion sense I am admittedly terrible, so if this interview is awkward to the fashionistas out there I apologize. At least I have intellectual curiousity on the subject!
Second, the reason I was interested in doing this interview is that your new blog and your band seem to have one common thread between them, and that is fashion, and I thought that would be a way to talk about the larger subject of Iowa City fashion, in addition to why fashion is important to you.
So now that that is out of the way, would you introduce a little bit about yourself?
Lauren Murphie: Ha! Sure! My name is Lauren Murphie and I'm a recent grad from the University of Iowa. I've been interested in fashion and music for as long as I can remember and just a few weeks ago it clicked that I should start writing this blog. I think my fashionable and creative family have had a lot to do with that!
I also write a corporate blog for a company in Cedar Rapids currently so I thought this would be another great creative outlet that could easily coincide with my music.
Iowa City Patch: So let's talk about your blog and music so this can be referenced later. Can you describe both briefly and what they have to do with fashion?
Murphie: My band, Caterwaulla, began a year ago (Feb. 2011) and we've really been building a presence in Iowa City. But along with that, I have always been very conscious about what I am wearing since I am often the only female performing at our various shows.
I like to stand out and it's important to me that I am able to portray that with my clothing and stage presence. The blog is just an extension of that idea.
There are a TON of fashion/music blogs out there, but I wasn't seeing much about that in Iowa City. A few boutiques write their own, but for the most part, there isn't something that's all encompassing. But then I decided to take the posts even further and I like to relate items of clothing to a life experience or lesson that I've learned.
Iowa City Patch: Why do you think there is a void when it comes to Iowa City fashion blogs and media coverage? It certainly seems as if the interest in personal expression in fashion has increased in the area in the past few years, has the media just not caught up yet?
Murphie: There seems to be an attempt to do that, but there is quite a bit of space still to fill. Last year (before it got shut down) the White Lightning Warehouse did a fashion show, which is the first time I've seen something around here that was solely fashion-centric. But, it got hardly any coverage outside the various local mediums that usually promote these types of events (ex. Talking with Yale Cohn, Little Village, Hoopla).
The interest in fashion and vintage has definitely increased though, with White Rabbit moving to a bigger store and local designers getting noticed. But currently it seems that it's spreading within the various Iowa City natives and their respective circles.
Iowa City Patch: So it hasn't gone mainstream, yet. Does it need to? Would that help it or hurt it, do you think? (and by "it" I mean the local fashion scene)
Murphie: Well, certainly if the boutiques here were to become mainstream (as in, people travelling here to buy from their shops, tourists, etc.) that would help their respective businesses immensely. In turn, would boost the Iowa City economy and in turn grow the city. So yes, I'd like people to take some more notice of what's happening here. It has real value, real substance. The people here are just classy, who wouldn't want to have that rub off on them?
It'd be selfish to want to keep this all to ourselves, although I have to say it's a nice little secret that we've got going on right now.
Iowa City Patch: So to the subject of your blog, do you mostly focus on your own style as it comes to your personal tastes or do you comment on the trends you see as well?
Murphie: Currently I am talking about my own view of fashion because I like to relate outfits I wear with personal experience. But I also talk about what I've learned and I try and show that visually with the outfit. For example: classic lines, amount of accessories, fashion rules (or the lack-thereof). I want to get across that fashion is about strength and confidence. But, I am also working with the trends of Iowa City itself because the clothing I am wearing is from boutiques in the town, therefore there are trends that can be seen on the locals here too.
Iowa City Patch: Is it important to you that the clothing on the blog is local?
Murphie: Yes, very much so. I'd like it to all be from local shops, but if I see something when I'm in another town (for example, I go shopping in Chicago a lot) and I think that the style of something fits with what I see happening here then I would talk about that as well. If you think of the blog like a collection, then it has to fit in, like a seamless extension.
"It'd be selfish to want to keep this all to ourselves, although I have to say it's a nice little secret that we've got going on right now."
~ Lauren Murphie
Iowa City Patch: Well speaking of clothing from bigger cities, New York fashion week was just a few weeks ago. Spring is also going to get here eventually. Anything that excites you coming soon to a boutique near you?
Murphie: I just LOVE spring fashion. But since I am so into vintage, I'm looking forward to rompers and little flowery onesies. Maxi dresses and skirts are going to be very popular and I'm looking forward to that because they are just absolutely flattering on any body type and I think most of the downtown stores will carry these. I also think that the feathered earrings are still going to stick this season and there's something very endearing about them that I love.
Iowa City Patch: You said that you're looking at your blog like you're developing your own personal collection. What is it about fashion that you love, and how has your personal style developed over the years?
Murphie: Well, it began because of my grandmother's influence. She taught me how to thrift shop with style. I am a first generation American (my family hailing from Britain) and my grandmother grew up in the 40's. There is something so very romantic to me when I picture that. I see her little blonde bob and a high-waist skirt, kitten heels and stockings. Just so classic. I think the European background has very much influenced me to not wear some of the drab and boring items that I see so many American's wear. Like I said, I like to stand out and always have. But, I like to do it in a positive way.
Iowa City Patch: You mention standing out in a positive way. What does that mean? Is there an element of style that is harmful in your view, and to be avoided?
Murphie: Well, when I think "negative" and "fashion" I often think of a situation when a person might feel pressured to wear something or they are trying to fit a particular standard. I believe that less is more. If you've got nice legs, show them off by all means! But then balance that with long sleeves, if you can see my pattern here? Dress for your body type, your surroundings, and your peace of mind.
Iowa City Patch: What do you hope your blog will develop into?
Murphie: I want it to be a positive place for my network to see trends and feel inspired. Mostly, I just want my stories, ideas, and vision to help and resonate with people. Beyond that, it'd be pretty exciting if it got featured on a bigger website someday too!