Baltimore Has Stylish Funk

A few years ago, Sloane Brown and her photographer randomly showed up to a local restaurant to find some style inspiration for her Baltimore Sun column, Glimpse.

Brown never thought Sofi’s Crepes would be the place where she would find a young woman with unforgettable style.

“I think she was a former art student,” Brown said. “She dressed in stuff she actually pulled from the garbage. I would call her style very thrifty than artsy. She basically had no budget for clothes, but managed to put together things in creative ways.”

The style of Baltimoreans stands out than other major cities style because every kind of style can be found here from thirty to preppy. But, there is another way Charm City’s fashion scene is different.

“Baltimore is rock, hip-hop, and experimental,” Julie Bent, a Baltimore City Community College fashion graduate said. “It’s both dirty and pretty.”

Baltimore is gritty because our urban location. Baltimore is pretty because of the ‘Hon’ culture. In all, Baltimore has a quirky fashion sense.

“Something that is unique about Baltimore is the more funkier style,” Brown said. “I think that comes from two different directions. It comes from the urban influence here, and it comes from John Waters’ elements of funky, artsy, unusual, and slightly edgy. It’s kind of down to earth funky.”

In the 1950s, a beehive and a bright pattern dress defined the fashion scene of Baltimore through the eyes of Charm City native, John Waters. There are designers in Baltimore like Emily Li Mandri of Natty Paint, who clothes reminds us of fashions in John Water movies. Li Mandri, the designer of Natty Paint, believes Baltimore modern day fashion scene still has the 50s inspiration underneath.

“Baltimore’s fashion scene seems to be really creative and fresh, especially amongst the hipsters and artist scene,” Li Mandri. “There are a lot of bright colors, vintage, and American Apparel . . . Baltimore does have some diamonds in the rough.”

With Natty Paint’s Hairspray vibes, their garments showcase Baltimore designer’s aestehic. Charm City designers tend to be economical and innovative within their design aesthetics such as using scraps of fabric and uncommon everyday materials to create one-of-a-kind apparel.


April Camlin, one of the creators of the first Baltimore Fashion Week, thinks Baltimore’s uniqueness lies in what the designers produce.

“I think that Baltimore definitely has its own style,” Camlin. “But, I think it is defined by the people that are living and creating fashion. There are so many people doing and making interesting things pieces they are making are fleeting and underappreciated, but are still out there in the universe.”

Designers need local support in order to expose the funky design aesthetic of Baltimore to a wider audience. Fashion events like Maryland Institute’s annual fashion show and Artscape has helped designers showcase their urban and funky designs on one stage.

Bent showcased her designs at Artscape 2009 and observed that Baltimore fashion scene is a mixture of unique influences. But, Baltimore’s down to earth funky style can’t be defined until designers are exposed on a national level.

“I think as more Baltimore designers gain recognition it will become clear exactly what the Baltimore fashion scene really is,” Bent said.

Charm City has a variety of styles that fit into different locations where fashion cliques form and mix.Katie Abbondanza, the Associate Editor of Girls’ Life Magazine, loves the eccentric yet laid back quality of Baltimore fashion.

“There are a lot of different scenes with everyone doing their own thing,” Abbondanza said. “That’s one thing I really like. There’s no pressure to dress a certain way or wear specific labels.

The pressure of wearing black head to toe is not a rule in this city. The rule in Baltimore is to be funky.

Read more from Ms. Charm’s Chic