Smart Designs for Traveling Light by WSU Apparel Design Student

PULLMAN, Wash. — While brainstorming ideas for her line of travel-friendly wardrobe pieces, Washington State University apparel design student Melissa Stowe had personal experience to draw on.

Stowe's travel wardrobe designs. Click image to download high-resolution version.

“I have studied abroad three times,” Stowe said. “So I know enough about travel to appreciate the kinds of physical, social and cultural constraints a traveler has to deal with.”

Earlier this year, Stowe researched ideal travel clothes for her Honors College thesis. Stowe showed her collection at the annual WSU Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show earlier this month.

Every aspect of each of the four garments was designed to suit a wide variety of travel-related requisites. Fabrics for the collection are silk crepe and silk charmeuse, specifically chosen for their wrinkle resistance and quick-drying properties. The fabric had to be breathable and movable so travelers felt comfortable strolling foreign cities, and yet lightweight so suitcases would not be weighed down, Stowe said.

Melissa Stowe in Brugge, Belgium. Click image to download high-resolution version.

“There are really numerous utility requirements the fabric had to serve,” Stowe said.

Stowe chose striking variations of turquoise colors for all the garments in her collection because the color is perceived positively in many cultures.

“In order to create the specific shades of blue that I wanted, I chose to dye 22 yards of silk to coordinate with the microfiber,” Stowe said.

When designing the line, Stowe kept a number of travel experiences in mind.

“I knew I wanted the line to be more polished and dressed up because in many cultures style is more formal,” Stowe said. “And, I wanted to make sure shoulders were covered because I know there are places in other countries, like churches, where you cannot enter unless you are dressed modestly.”

Stowe’s extensive research on what constitutes a travel-friendly wardrobe impressed the Honors College thesis panel, which passed Stowe’s thesis as “exemplary” and nominated it for “distinction.”

“Melissa really took the opportunity to engage in this entire process, not just the design process, but also the research and writing process for the Honors College,” said Carol Salusso, AMDT professor and Stowe’s faculty advisor.

Salusso said Stowe’s collection has great harmony between both the research components and the design elements.

“In Melissa’s collection, the research was done as input, and the design was done as output,” Salusso said. “The designs in this collection really integrate science and research with art and culture and that makes the pieces very multifaceted.”

Stowe said she hopes to enter one of her garments in a design competition. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a design career abroad.


NOTE: Kathryn R. Sullivan, Marketing and News intern, wrote this news story.