Some of Allison's looks
Some of Allison's looks
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The first time Allison Deutschman set foot in a mall, she was in sixth grade, but the 17-year-old from Mohawk feels called to a career in fashion.

Allison is finishing her senior year at Gregory B. Jarvis Jr./Sr. High School in Mohawk while getting a head start on college credits in fashion merchandising at Herkimer County Community College. One of her HCCC professors has arranged for her to host a fashion camp for nine- through 13-year-olds this summer.

Ranked in the top 10 of her graduating class, she could attend HCCC for free next year. But she said that fashion doesn't appear to be a high priority in Mohawk, where her part-time job at Kmart is the closest she's come to the retail scene.

Allison is torn between colleges in Boston and Savannah, Ga., and multiple majors, including fashion marketing and fashion communication. Either way, "I'm going to have to significantly downsize my wardrobe," she joked.

Allison's fervor for fashion has come a long way since the days when she was homeschooled and "dressed like everyone else, but probably in looser and bigger clothes.

"It's not like I was some huge dork," she remarked.

But in the sixth grade, Allison started at St. Francis de Sales School in Herkimer. Even though the students wore uniforms, she started to express herself with the clothes she wore on gym days.

She also came up with her first inventive outfit: a paisley, gray and blue button-down blouse with a black skirt and a pair of black heels that launched her now-impressive shoe collection.

"People are going to get an impression of you based on the way you look," Allison learned.

Now, she blogs about the "preppy" styles she likes and pushes her peers for modesty. Pop culture and entertainment have mischaracterized both of those, she said: "Some people say modesty has to look frumpy. I think you can still look cute and pretty and dress modest[ly].

"You can get just as many compliments and feel just as good about yourself in something not showing all that you have to offer," she advised female peers, adding that impressing boys isn't worth altering one's identity. "If you're pressured by the people around you, then that's not really who you are. Less risqué attire is flattering, as well."

Allison's favorite J.Crew Oxford shirts, for instance, cinch at the waist and flare out, complimenting her curvy 5-foot-7-inch figure. Go ahead and wear that lacy top with the plunging neckline that's so popular this season, she advised teens, but throw a camisole underneath it.

The fashionista is concerned about male modesty, too. When her school mandated that girls' shorts must be a modest length, Allison lobbied for a rule that boys' boxer shorts not show.

"Other people have to go through this," she said. "If they're not going to have a voice, and I can be a voice for them, I will."

Allison's upbringing as the oldest of five children, raised by conservative parents, has a lot to do with her views on clothing: "There are some parents who are working very hard to be their child's best friend. I think it's important that you respect your parents."

Her faith, too, inspires her modest dress - but also her flair for fashion. If she hadn't made it to public schools so late, she said, "My style could be completely different. I could be completely different.

"It's tough for me because a lot of people wouldn't even put 'Catholic' and 'fashion' in the same sentence," she continued. "Not everybody's going to appreciate my opinions. You have to stay strong, stay true to who you are. Maybe not everyone else is going to accept you, but God will."

She's even received some flak on her blog, which has 60 followers, for seeming materialistic.

But Allison aims to teach readers how to buy on a budget through thrift stores, consignment shops, eBay and "damage discounts" at retail stores.

Allison has been a lector and a catechist at her parish, Our Lady Queen of Apostles in Frankfort, and has attended the National Catholic Youth Conference and the diocesan Christian Leadership Institute. Access to a Catholic church is a factor in her college decision: "My family is going to be far away, and church is like a comfort zone for me."