ROTM: Tori, the NYFW Model with Killer Style Advice!
College Student and Fashion Model in Oxford, Mississippi
Meet our Reeler of the Month, Tori Ellis! She's reeled everything from Gucci Tights to Vinyl records. To most, Tori may be just a normal senior in college at Ole Miss, but there’s much more to this southern girl than meets the eye.
What most don’t know is that when Tori was in high school, she signed with Wilhelmina Models, one of the top modeling agencies in the world. Her first major gig? Walking for Vera Wang during 2012 Spring/Summer New York Fashion Week. After booking several more jobs, she decided to further pursue her modeling career and move to NYC.
“It was definitely a culture shock,” says Tori, who comes from the small town of Laurel, Mississippi, population 18,756. "There are so many people in one place from all over the world, and there is so much to do and see, but I fell in love with New York." For the next three years, Tori experienced all of the perks that come with being a high fashion model: attending lavish events and parties with celebs (aka Leo DiCaprio), traveling all over the world, and being dressed by top stylists. She walked for Gucci, Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, and even was in Beyonce's iconic music video, Pretty Hurts.
While Tori loved every minute of this time in her life, she eventually realized she wanted to pursue a degree. Moving away by herself when she was 18, she felt she had missed out on the normal college experience, so she ditched the photo shoots for the books. With her previous exposure to the fashion world, her dream career is to work for a fashion magazine in NYC. She just had an internship with a publishing company there last fall.
Being that Tori has so much experience with fashion, I wanted to get more of the inside scoop on her personal style. Check out our awesome conversation below!
Q: How would you describe your personal style?
A: As a model, you're a blank canvas to designers. They have to see you as natural as possible to imagine how you can become apart of their art. I think that helped me to develop my style...it's fairly simple and effortless. It's a lot of black and jeans with minimal makeup and maybe a slicked back ponytail. My favorite accessories are shoes and purses, but you'll never find me in more jewelry than dainty gold necklaces.
Q: Who is your style icon?
A: Jesse Jo Stark. You probably haven't heard of her, but her parents founded the LA jewelry brand Chrome Hearts. She has the coolest style and is also besties with Bella Hadid, my FAV model.
Q: What influences your style?
A: My favorite music is classic rock, and I draw a lot of inspiration from it. My latest Reel was actually new vinyl records of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, so if you can't tell I love the 60s and 70s. I have so many band t-shirts I've lost count.
Q: How would you style your favorite band tee?
Q: What advice would you give someone who is struggling to find their own personal style?
A: Find something to draw inspiration from...whether it be something you're passionate about or an experience you have had. Don't be afraid to push your comfort zone and stand out, but stay true to yourself. It can be hard to not be influenced by everyone around you (I literally used to wear all pink and Lily Pulitzer) until my agent said I needed an entirely new wardrobe and took me shopping. He helped me to develop my style. I realize that my style now much better suits who I am, and with age, I have gotten more confident dressing for me and not for others.
Q: Modeling obviously taught you a lot about how to dress, but what else did you take away from the experience?
A: Definitely to stand up for yourself. Be tough; don’t let people walk all over you and make you feel lesser than you are. Stay true to your values.
So what's next for Tori? This December, she will be finishing her senior year at Ole Miss with a major in print journalism and a minor in art. She doesn't know for sure where she'll end up after graduation, but is crossing her fingers that it's NYC! We can't wait to see and wish her the best of luck.
Be sure to check out Tori on Instagram.