SIOUX CITY — In a heated battle in Denver, Chloie Roupe earned herself a silver medal, but the East High School senior wasn’t involved in any athletic endeavor.
Instead, Roupe, a budding fashion designer, scored the win for her concept dress that was fancy enough for prom but comfy enough for a night of dancing.
“I was competing with high school students from all across the country,” she said of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) National Leadership Conference, held July 2 – 6. “It was really intense.”
A national nonprofit organization with more than 175,000 members in more than 5,300 chapters, the FCCLA points students towards career exploration while helping them to develop the planning, goal setting, problem solving, decision making and interpersonal communication skills needed at home and in the workplace.
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Chloie Roupe stands with the dress she made which won her a silver medal for her design at an FCCLA conference in Denver.
Roupe first began involved with FCCLA as a student with the Sioux City Community School District Career Academy’s fashion design pathway.
“I’ve always thought traditional prom dresses were too tight, too cumbersome and too heavy to wear,” she said. “I conducted a survey among other students and they agreed with me.”
“Girls were telling me that they’d have to leave an event early, simply because their dresses were too uncomfortable,” Roupe continued. “I was determined to find a fashion solution.”
Working with soft, pajama-like material, she was able to create a prototype gown that allowed for optimal movement on the dancefloor while remaining comfortable for the wearer.
Roupe’s creation wowed the crowd in her Career Academy classroom as well as at a statewide FCCLA fashion competition, held in Cedar Rapids in March.
That allowed her to advance to the national FCCLA fashion contest, which attracted many industry movers and shakers.
Which is exactly the kind of exposure Roupe wants for her designs.
Chloie Roupe won a silver medal at an FFCLA National Leadership Conference in Denver for a gown she designed.
Indeed, many of Roupe’s creations have already graced the runways of the Sioux City Conservatory of Music’s Sound & Style Fashion Show.
“People think you need to have lots of money to look good,” she said, shaking her head. “If you know how to ‘upcycle,’ you can make anything look more fashion-forward.”
Essentially, “upcycling” means giving new life or new meaning to used clothes.
“I basically hang out at the 50 cent bin at the Goodwill for both material and inspiration,” Roupe said.
That’s very similar to the approach of famed designer Betsey Johnson, whom Roupe considers an inspiration.
Best known for her whimsical yet feminine fashion aesthetic, Johnson has designed outfits for everyone from Cyndi Lauper to Olivia Rodrigo over the course of a 50-year career.
“I like (Johnson’s) style because it is functional as well as fun,” Roupe said. “You need clothes to be wearable but there needs to be a sense of humor.”
This is why her pajama-soft prom gown can be dressed up or dressed down.
“It reminds me of the over-the-top fashions of the 1990s and 2000s,” Roupe explained. “I’m calling it my ‘Ciao Bella’ collection to capture its campiness.”
As she starts her senior year in high school, Roupe is already checking out fashion design schools in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Being a fashion designer means knowing how to sew but also how to market clothes,” she said. “With my comfy formal gown, I created something pretty while finding a solution to a problem.”