Meg Thomas, 19, Reruns Sales and Buyer, Seamstress, Singer in Nashville Band, UT Student in Fashion Marketing

Where are you from?

I was born in Marietta, Ga., but moved to Knoxville when I was 8 months old. I thought about fashion school in Portland, but the South is really where my heart is. Plus, tuition is affordable here.

How did you get your start in the fashion world?

I went to private school and we had to wear uniforms. It was through accessories and cute bags that we got to express ourselves. Sometimes we would have "free dress days" where we could wear anything we wanted. Everyone would go all out for that.

Did parental guidance play a part in your personal style?

I am an only child, so I think I had certain advantages. My father is an ex-rocker. He toured with bands like King Crimson and Captain Beefheart. When I was 16 he gave me his record collection. He raised me on the Kinks and the Who. My mother is a crazy free spirit. She is a recreation therapist at Fort Sanders. She loves to make people feel good. I think I got my personality for style from him, and my friendly nature from her. In eighth grade I discovered my mom's old prom dresses. I loved them, hemmed them, and have been wearing vintage ever since.

How has your passion for vintage grown over the years?

I started my own eBay vintage clothing store when I was 15. My mother was super supportive of this and she would take me thrifting all over. This was a little before the whole Knoxville vintage clothing craze. I would go to AMVETS and buy 70 dresses then sell them for a huge profit on eBay. Four years ago vintage was very easy to find in this town. Reed Massengill, who owned Sanctuary Vintage, and I would fight over things at AMVETS. I always admired him, and Janice who owned Legacy. It is my dream to open my own vintage store.

How do you feel about modern clothing?

Sometimes it's good, but I rarely find things I really like. It's easy to look like Sienna Miller these days because you can buy the stuff she's wearing just about anywhere and for cheap. I used to work at Forever 21. It was so cookie-cutter. Every girl buys the same dress for their sorority functions. I always wanted to say, "Sorry honey, but there will be plenty of other girls wearing this same dress." I was very happy to learn that Urban Outfitters is not coming downtown. Not only do they take business away from the small guy, but a portion of their profits go to anti-gay organizations.

Since you've lived here your whole life, is there anything about Knoxville you don't like?

Knoxville is full of people that repeat the same things while expecting a different outcome. Also, people that live in different parts of town can have negative opinions about the other side. People on the east side think that the west side is just filled with yuppies. People on the west side think that the east side is just filled with bums and junkies—you'll be raped and mugged. Knoxville is quite segregated in that way. I also get very tired of all the catcalls from "indigenous personelles," as my parents call them. Overall, Knoxville is a lot better than it used to be. It's nice to see the Old City getting more action, though I think it deserves more.

Worn Clothing

Dress: Leo Handmade in Chattanooga, two months ago, $25

Belt: AMVETS, years ago, $1

Tights: Target, last winter, $3

Vintage Boots: Portland at Redlight, 1 year ago, $10