Sparkling Across America: North Dakota


There’s fashion to be found everywhere, and Prairie Style File‘s Alicia Underlee Nelson wants you to know that North Dakota is no exception. In her blog, she showcases local style and attractions, featuring the very best the Upper Midwest has to offer. We thought she’d be the virtual tour guide to North Dakota style, so read on for the whole scoop!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you begin blogging?
It all started when I worked a sales job and traveled across the state to meet with my clients. I stumbled across so many cool shops and restaurants and met so many creative people that it seemed wrong not to tell people about them. Eventually I realized that I liked telling these stories way more than I liked selling anything, so I started writing full-time. I love it when people tell me that something I wrote inspired them to try a new lipstick or buy a piece from a local artist or try a new restaurant. No matter where you live, it’s easy to get stuck in your routine, so I like to help people shake things up a bit.

2. Describe your style in 3 words.
Eclectic, tough, and functional.

3. Where do you get your style inspiration?
I follow a few street fashion blogs, but I really love to get out and see what people are wearing and hunt for treasures at estate sales, flea markets and my favorite thrift shops.  And I love to travel. About 90% of my wardrobe has been purchased on a trip or in preparation for one. I think clothing and accessories are the best souvenirs. I always bring back a suitcase full of things that are meaningful to me – and lots of local fashion magazines and ideas as well.

4. What do you like best about living in North Dakota?
North Dakotans know how to relax and enjoy life. I’ve lived in two other states, and I’ve noticed that there’s more of an emphasis on slowing down and spending time with your family and friends here. Commutes are short and communities are small, so that helps us get the work/life balance right. And people like to have a good time! The winters can get long, so once spring rolls in, the patio at every restaurant and bar in town is packed and everybody is out walking and riding their bikes or cutting out early on Fridays to go to the lake.

5. Do you notice any regional trends that may not be as prevalent in other parts of the country?
The handmade trend has always worked here. North Dakotans are both insanely creative and very practical, so if they can’t find exactly what they want in stores, they’ll make it themselves — or find someone who can. Sewing, leatherwork, jewelry making and needlework are definitely not lost arts in this part of the country, and I love seeing how people work handmade items into their wardrobes.

6. What is your favorite local attraction?
Whenever I have an afternoon free, I take my camera and explore the shops, restaurants, and bars in downtown Fargo. The district has that historic downtown feel and it’s a great place to walk and people watch, even in the winter. I love to grab a coffee and wander, checking out the store windows, the galleries, the other shoppers on the street and the public art and little community gardens that pop up in the summer. And when it gets dark, I just toss the camera back in my bag and meet my friends for a movie, a play, drinks or dinner.


7. Very often on your blog you like to highlight local boutiques and small businesses. What is your favorite one at the moment?
Unglued Market is the heart of North Dakota’s handmade movement. The shop is in downtown Fargo and it’s absolutely packed with handmade pieces for your closet and your home and almost all of them are from local artisans and crafters. You can find a totally unique gift for anyone there – and probably something for yourself too. My recent score include scarves, a travel wallet, perfume, art for my walls, a pair of leather earrings, an adorable onesie for my son and lots of cupcakes to snack on, so that just gives you an idea of what you’ll find inside. I could shop there every day and find something new every time.


8. What do you look for in a piece of jewelry?
I love jewelry that’s unique and meaningful to me. And it needs to be versatile – I’m always layering my jewelry and I like pieces that work with a lot of different looks.

9. What is your favorite piece of jewelry you own and why?
My husband Derrick bought me a lucky horseshoe necklace that I wear a lot. He knows I like to layer small pendants so he always finds interesting pieces for my collection. In addition to the horseshoe, I have a shamrock, a feather, several crosses and an amethyst owl. They’re almost like talismans to me.


10. What is your favorite piece from right now?
I love the Chen Rai Graduated Grey Pearl and Glass Mix Wrap Bracelet. It’s a perfect mix of hard and soft and I can easily dress it up or down. And it has an edgy quality that I really respond to. I don’t like jewelry that’s too precious.


To keep up to date with Alicia and all the hottest local shops and restaurants in North Dakota, be sure to check our Prairie Style File or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!


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