(Editor's note: This is the final in a six-part series by students from the P.I. Reed School of Journalism at West Virginia University. The students traveled to Elkins in January as part of their West Virginia Uncovered Immersion Weekend project.)
Connie Linger grew up dreaming of designing clothing.
When she was young, her grandmother helped her to understand the techniques on an old treadle machine. While she was in college, she designed her own fashion blue jeans.
Originally from Buckhannon, Linger studied graphic design at Fairmont State University. She opened "Miss Connie's", a clothing design shop, in Elkins in 1994.
Unique designs and vintage re-creations inspire the real look of "Miss Connie's."
Linger works in her shop on Randolph Avenue alone, designing gowns and costumes as well as elegant dresses, tops, jackets, jewelry, purses and hats. Linger also does alterations for customers. Linger sells many of her creations out of her shop and at shows, but she gets a fair amount of business by word of mouth.
Connie Linger eagerly anticipates the arrival of the new Vogue magazine each month. Elle and InStyle are her favorites as well but Vogue is her preference because she thinks the fashions in it are the most cutting edge. When it arrives, she spends hours looking at the clothing for inspiration. (Photos by Marissa Statler and Jessica Marghella)
Connie Linger adjusts Michelle Murphy’s beauty pageant outfit, while Michelle’s mother, Amy, critiques. Michelle, 7, was preparing for a pageant held in February. Linger’s shop gets very busy around events in town, especially during the upcoming prom season.
Vintage clothing items are opportunities for invention for Linger, who reinvents dated pieces of apparel. She polishes old pieces and makes them new again. Sometimes it’s fixing a hem or other times a full makeover is required. She finds many of the clothes at Goodwill and auctions.
Connie Linger focuses on her next stitch before moving forward. Her creations are made from scratch using Linger’s original designs. She works alone, but her original fashions fill her shop
Connie Linger concentrates on cutting a perfect straight line for the trim of a new hippy-inspired dress. The designs can change dramatically from the beginning of a project to the end. She sells many of her unique designs in her shop and at shows.
For the last decade, Linger has been named the official costume designer for the Mountain State Forest Festival Queen and her court. Though she loves to look through clothing design magazines and the latest fashions in New York, Linger says that she enjoys designing clothes in Elkins because she likes making beautiful things for real people.