Although its origins are for deeper exploration, National Bow Tie Day really exists and what better way to celebrate than with Virginia-based menswear startup, Bull+Moose. The year-old menswear label is a hybrid of high-quality craftsmanship at accessible prices and is inspired by the well-dressed polo crowd.
"People always dress well at professional polo games," says CEO Diego Echeverri. "But quality neckwear simply should not cost over $75." So for less than $40, you can shop origami crane bow ties, camo, seersucker, chambray, and floral prints, or classic black satin and velvet bow ties. The only disclaimer? We can't promise you'll look like the brand's ambassador, professional polo player Brandon Phillips, but if you tweet at us (@ShopAroundBlog) with your best look-a-like try, you will be entered to win a free bow tie of your choice. And while the brand is predominately geared toward the tailored prepster, the various patterns allow for individual personalization, says Phillips, who was drawn to the brand for "their fun and edgy neckwear, which is a perfect fit to my laid back personal style."
And because everyone loves a good excuse to pop some bubbly and toast to an occasion, in observance of the holiday, Bull+Moose has partnered with another DC-based startup, UrbanStems, to deliver a bouquet and floral-themed bow tie to someone special anywhere in the District or Arlington within two hours or less. Special bonus? No delivery fee. And you don't have to be a gent to love a good bow tie. Follow the Bull+Moose blog for some #WomanCrushWednesday inspiration of ladies in bow ties.
Having been advised by his press team that he was on a very tight schedule, I was expecting my interview with Steven Alan to wrap up in 15 minutes or less. But when we sat down to chat at Kafe Leopold, I realized I had struck gold. Washingtonian was the only press he was meeting with—meaning free rein to pick the man's brain.
With 26 Steven Alan stores in the US and Japan (with 300-plus stockists), I wasn't going to leave without finding out if the next outpost would be in DC (he already has a store in Cady's Alley). Alan has practically built an empire from his minimalist approach to design, so what better place to serve up the classics than in Washington? I wanted to know his thoughts on DC fashion while also getting the dirt on the obvious: his recently released jewelry collection and plans for a second brick-and-mortar in the area.
Tell me about the fall collection.
We’re a brand that’s kind of equally for men and women, and that’s pretty unusual. I feel like most brands that sell both are much stronger with one than the other, and we started with men’s, so that was our initial point of view in terms of designing clothes. Then we started with women’s shirts and shirtdresses and we’ve now developed it into a full collection. So for fall you’ll see more coats, knitwear, and a lot more dresses. The silhouettes have also changed. We still have the iconic shirting silhouettes we’ve always had, but we’ve also gone much further on the design side, and I think the collection feels a lot more sophisticated. And the fabrics are amazing—when we started out, we were pretty limited as far as the vendors we got fabrics from, and now we’re going to Paris every season and improving the line quite a bit.
It sounds like you’re in expansion mode—I heard you’re also launching a jewelry line this year.
Yes, we just launched the jewelry collection this month actually, in August, on an app called Spring—our fall collection will also launch on the app. There was an article about it on the cover of WWD, and it’s basically shoppable pictures, kind of similar to what an Instagram is. I think it’s much easier to use than any other app out there. Essentially you put in your credit card information, your address, and everything like that, and when you see the picture you click it—and that’s really it. A ton of brands are on Spring—the LVMH brands, Rebecca Minkoff, Rag & Bone, Band of Outsiders, a lot of jewelry designers, and more.
What are your thoughts on DC fashion?
I feel like it’s lacking a lot of stores. I mean it just doesn’t seem like there’s even much fashion here for a city that has so many amazing restaurants, and great art and music. We get a lot of people contacting us, going to StevenAlan.com and wanting stuff shipped here, which is why we’re investigating to have more options for our DC shoppers.
How would you change it, or do you wish you saw more of something in particular?
I think right now there’s a huge interest in the food movement, the whole farm-to-table, and people want to know where things come from, right? With fashion, people really are interested in supporting the more local, smaller brands—it’s more individualistic and not as mass. You don’t see it in every department store, and I think the culture that’s prevalent in New York, Portland, San Francisco, and LA would be great to see more of here, as opposed to these big department-store brands.
Are you considering opening another store in the area?
Actually, we’re here in DC to meet with a few developers, and we’re looking at different neighborhoods to figure out what the best strategy would be moving forward. We’ve been driving through different neighborhoods to see what we like. When I initially opened here, we did a little tour, but it seems like things are developing at lightning speed here; there are huge projects going up at every corner. But we should have it all figured out soon because we’re looking to open another retail location in the last quarter of 2015. Our average store is about 1,500 square feet—the one here in Cady’s Alley is smaller, probably around 800 square feet—so it’ll be somewhere around there in terms of size.
Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.
When Sarah Jessica Parker called last week with no assistant, no PR rep, and not even an agent on the phone, I knew right away she was involved with every aspect of her SJP Collection. She had the names and descriptions of every shoe down pat. Fabric types rolled off her tongue with ease. She used words like "sick" and "sweet" to describe some styles. As if I didn't already feel like I was chatting with an old friend rather than an A-list actress-turned-designer, I saw this video of her Wednesday getting doused in an ice-bucket for the ALS challenge and thought, she really is just like us—okay, not so much.
Aside from her other projects, SJP is also a member of the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities. So she knows a thing or two about DC, and her new fall line, which hits shelves exclusively at Nordstrom Friday, will give you the chance to put your best foot forward, literally.
Customers can meet the lady of the hour herself between 5 and 6 PM at Nordstrom Tysons Corner Center, where she will be signing purchases, time permitting, from her fall 2014 Nordstrom-exclusive shoe and handbag collection. The made-in-Italy line will range in price from $350 for a pump to $695 for a knee-high boot. Handbag prices vary depending on style—crossbody bags cost $220, totes $495.
Before she arrives in DC, we asked her to recommend styles for various DC women.
What shoe would you recommend for the Washington woman, starting with a young professional on Capitol Hill?
Fawn and Lady are really popular. These styles are some of our best sellers I think because they suit such a variety of people. Fawn is our pointed-toe pump that we launched in a beautiful, bright teal color in suede and a black in nappa, nude in nappa, and we've started expanding on Fawn because it's been so popular. So those I think are really appropriate but they come in such fun colors so if you're younger, and you don't want to call attention to yourself, it's a super great shoe. Lady is also really nice because it's an almond-toe which is a different approach to the pump. We launched with a poppy and the whole shoe is a grosgrain so it bounces off a lot of light. They're both a good height so they're not crazy tall. They're great office shoes with a youthful approach to it.
The Virginia equestrian?
We have some really good boots like the Alyssa (named after my assistant). It's got a little bit of an open toe and is a nice shoe for the office too actually so it kind of covers a lot. I've been wearing it in the summer although I'm sure I'll use it in the fall too. It's a really soft leather with like 2 pieces of fabric draped around your foot. Lee is another great boot- both are strangely appropriate for an office but can also work into the nighttime too. They're a little edgier and they're nice for people who aren't uber feminine people; ladies who like a less obvious approach to a heel height. Coming up, we'll have more boots, higher ones, more equestrian styles, fashion, slouchy, editorial boots- you name it. This category specifically is growing a lot.
If you want to be literal about the equestrian girl though- then I'd say to go with the Kelly. It's a truly equestrian boot in a deep, rich bark color. Girls in our office have loved this boot.
The Georgetown girl?
Alyssa, again, is great for this category. There's also a shoe called Rachel that I would recommend for the "Georgetown Girl." Another style, Diana, would suit a preppy young girl too. It comes in a grey patent and nude nappa. If we're talking about an edgier Georgetown girl though I'd suggest Gina. This style comes in a mushroom-grey really gorgeous shade.
And the 14th Street trendy hipster?
The Pat boot is sick. There's another style, Serge, which comes in a grey suede or an olive green. Really beautiful. And they're both very strong.
How would you describe the FLOTUS style? If you were to dress Mrs. Obama in one of your shoes, which would it be and why?
In a way, I kind of think I'd put her in Carrie. It's a multi-strap shoe. All of our shoes are made in Italy, they're incredibly comfortable but this one in particular is also very sexy. There's a lot of coverage but it's gentle, and petit, and I think it would look amazing on the First Lady. She looks good in a variety of looks; she seems to enjoy different feelings. Some people feel very comfortable in one sort of idea and the First Lady really seems to like various designers that are radically different from one another. She can be incredibly sexy, and appropriate, and bold, and then also conservative. There's something also kind of naughty about Carrie. The silhouette is from the seventies- a period that I absolutely love in shoe design. It's a very influential period for me and my business partner George (Malkemus, also President of Manolo Blahnik). I think it's a great shoe for her. We have it in purple, in a beautiful red, black nappa, soon we'll also have it in cream and a crazy gorgeous metallic blue with a grosgrain on the back.
I would also suggest Daphne for the First Lady. It's a charcoal color grosgrain with just a strap right below the arch. It's got like 6 rhinestones across it. Love that shoe. That comes in a grey and a poppy.
Are you partial to one particular style from the collection?
I love Carrie, always will, but there's a shoe called Blythe that I'm really into right now. It's a single t-strap in a really cool bright, indigo color like an oregano almost. I love them all though especially all the new colors. They're not all for me, but I love 'em.
Describe your design process with George.
George and I come together and it's kind of hard to describe. It's unlike any other collaboration I've ever been a part of. It's crazy, crazy simple in a way because we have lots and lots of ideas, our points of references are really similar. We didn't realize but we have a short hand that's really fun. We basically think about feelings and themes and from there we work. We get to a place where we have enough information to send to Ricardo in Italy, he makes our shoes for us, and then Ricardo gives us feedback. It's an amazing three-way conversation. Then the samples come back and we tweak, tweak, tweak. We change the proportions, the elastic, we almost have a formula down now.
What are the biggest challenges of creating your own brand?
Any new business has countless challenges it’s hard to even itemize them. How to make smart decisions about growing, how not to grow too fast, how not to be disappointed if a shoe doesn’t sell the way you had hoped. Just smart choices about marketing. We don’t really have a marketing or PR budget, I run the instagram page myself. We started with no followers at all, we’ve taken every picture ourselves. And by we I mean my assistant Alyssa and me. That’s all been a challenge. To do it right and to tell the story the right way- to help get your message out, to capture people’s interest. That sort of thing. Learning the customer is really challenging, when you’re just starting out especially. When you don’t have information yet from skews selling or not selling. The whole thing is a complete privilege though. There’s occasions like on these tours when I get to hear the customers thoughts and their stories and I get to see the shoes on the actual customer. The challenges are eclipsed with pure euphoria like an endeavor like this.
What's the color story for fall?
Everybody has plenty of browns and blacks and we want to give people purples and olives and poppies and cabernets and daffodil and lots and lots of shades of blue.
Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.
Washingtonian magazine is gearing up for its first annual sample sale on Wednesday, and tickets are still on sale. "The Wear it Washington sample sale is the perfect chance to grab those last-minute, must-have items we all need for fall. I'll be there myself to stock up; I wouldn't miss it if I were you!" says Kate Bennett, Washingtonian magazine's fashion editor.
Guests can head to Long View Gallery to take advantage of 25 to 75 percent off full-price items from more than 25 participating local boutiques (and counting!) and 60-plus designers. VIP passes grant shoppers first chance at the new merchandise. And for Monday only, all ticket purchases will enter you for a chance to win two passes to Washingtonian's invitation-only Style Setters event in September.
Excited yet? We are, and to get you as pumped up as us, we've selected five items under $50 from Bull + Moose and South Moon Under that will be available to shop at the sale. All Bull + Moose items will be $5 to $10 off, and select South Moon Under pieces will be an additional 30 percent off.
Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.
The First Family is off for vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, but Michelle Obama didn’t leave town without lessons learned from her makeup artist, Carl Ray, who has worked with FLOTUS for the past six and a half years. “I’ve been changing up her looks and makeup textures according to the seasons, as well as the location of her appearances, since I started as her personal makeup artist,” says Ray, who is one of Washington’s most sought-after beauty gurus. When it comes to inspiration for the beauty looks, Ray incorporates the cultures, style, and surroundings of wherever the First Lady is traveling, be it a trip to China or a day at the beach.
As for Mrs. Obama’s Vineyard getaway, Ray says FLOTUS isn’t overly made up. “She’s not trying to look totally glam. But polished and comfortable? Yes.” Ray cites Obama’s flawless skin as a great starting point. “I recommend drinking plenty of water, doing a light exfoliation, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.” Not a problem for the First Lady—or for her daughters. “Malia and Sasha know this, too, and have heard me say the recipe hundreds of times!” says Ray, who is based at George Salon at The Four Seasons when he’s not with Mrs. Obama.
Here are his five top tips for getting the First Lady’s summer makeup look:
- “Sunscreen and moisturizer are a must—year-round. I like to use BB creams or tinted moisturizers for hot summer months. Most are available in a variety of different shades, and some have SPF built in.”
- “Instead of bold or dramatic lip color, for vacation go with a sheer lipstick or gloss; again, there are plenty on the market that have an SPF component.”
- “For that sunkissed glow, you can’t go wrong with a bronzer. Focus on your cheeks, but don’t shy away from a treating your entire face to a flushed, tan look with a few quick brush strokes.”
- “Swap out the darkened lashes and just go with one quick coat of waterproof mascara.”
- “Eyebrows are key. Don’t overlook the power of a great brow. Brush the hairs in an upward direction, and lightly fill in the brows with a pencil that matches your natural color.”
Ellen Van Dusen has always lived a colorful life: sponge-painting with Mom at home in Chevy Chase, ripping apart fabrics to make clothes, and painting one too many pairs of pants. Today, she designs an eclectic line of clothing for New York City boutiques that’s earned attention from fashion giants Refinery29, Nylon, and Vogue—an experience she says feels “pretty weird.”
Van Dusen released Dusen Dusen in spring 2010, influenced by her creative adolescence and love for simple shapes and bold prints. This year’s spring line is bright, geometric, and fun, and there’s plenty more art-inspired design on the way in her fall 2014 collection, set to be shipped to stores later this month.
We talked to the Tufts graduate to learn more about how DC shaped her blossoming fashion career—and the worst thing she’s ever designed.
Tell us about Dusen Dusen. How would you describe it?
I’ve always been really interested in color and shape and art, so I wanted to make clothing that had really simple wearable shapes with bold, bright prints. I’m a big doodler; I love to draw. When I started making clothes in high school, I would buy stuff from thrift stores, then cut them up and sew them. Then I graduated to finding wacky fabrics and making stuff from there. I’ve always been interested in textiles and patterns and prints, so that’s where the line came from.
What was it like growing up in DC?
I lived in Chevy Chase, DC. My parents were both architects, so we had an art-plus-design-centric home. Instead of going to church or synagogue, my parents would take us to a museum every Sunday. It was our own little education. We would always go whenever there was a new show at the National Gallery of Art. We spent a lot of time at the Air and Space Museum. We would always do little projects in the backyard. We did tie-dye, we did sponge-painting.
DC is such a beautiful city. I feel like people don’t talk about that enough when they talk about DC. The architecture is so nice and so green. The contrast from DC to New York is extreme. New York is nice, but there’s a lot of bad stuff, too. My studio is in Williamsburg, and the walk to my studio, is very uninspiring.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
I’ve always made my own clothes and painted on things—I have pants that I painted a checkerboard on that I would wear to ska concerts. Probably the worst thing I ever made: At the Field School, I took a class called “Picture, Poem, Song.” I partnered up with a friend of mine and I painted a pair of pants while listening to music.
There are so many good thrift stores in DC, and I think my passion for making clothes came from thrift stores. I would go to G Street Fabrics in Rockville and make dresses out of quilting fabric. During high school, I had a hat-making business. I got really into it and started selling hats at my high school and made 200 hats over the course of one winter. I charged $15 a hat, which is absurd for a hand-knit hat.
What path did you follow when you moved away from DC?
I went to Tufts. I did a design-your-own-major program there called psychology of design where I was basically studying the visual system from a bunch of different disciplines. I did some internships while I was at school, over the summers, with designers in New York, and learned a good amount. I worked a costume shop at Tufts and picked up a bunch of skills there. I had to make all kinds of weird stuff for plays.
After I graduated, I moved back to DC for a couple months, and worked at Annie Cream Cheese [in Georgetown]. That summer, I made some clothes and sold them at Meeps in Adams Morgan. Then I moved to New York and interned for two designers, and then I started my own line.
What do you miss most about DC?
I definitely miss the space I had in DC. It was very different from the space I have here. I miss some of my old spots. I liked taking my dog to my elementary school park. I miss Rock Creek Park—it’s a great place to go jogging.
Who: Justine Harman, 29
Features Editor, Elle.com
What I do: “I am the features editor at Elle.com, where I write and edit longform content for the number one fashion magazine in the world, Elle! I also help helm special projects, such as our monthly guest blogger series and Hot Guy/Cold Drink, a column in which I essentially have cocktails with some of the cutest guys in entertainment. It’s a pretty decent racket.”
My work style: “Basics with an edge—high-waisted jeans, loose button-downs, and lightweight silk dresses—with functional heels. However, I am not above a statement piece. My mom, former congresswoman Jane Harman (and the high priestess of DC cool), introduced me to to the power of the impact shoe. My favorite pairs, like a pair of two-tone, d’Orsay Pierre Hardy pumps, come from Hu’s Shoes on M Street.”
Interviewing a Designer or Celebrity
“Here I am interviewing actor Michael Pitt wearing an Atlantique Ascoli cropped tank, trousers by The Row, and Jean-Michel Cazabat slides. It was an especially hot day, and I had trained up to NYC from DC that morning, so I needed something that traveled well.” Photograph by Katie Friedman.
Typical Day at the Office
“I tend to wear things that are comfortable, and this look is no exception: J.Crew shirtdress (I worked at the store in Georgetown Park in high school and have a total soft spot for their stuff) and my beloved Day Birger et Mikkelsen striped tee around my waist. The shoes are Saint Laurent. The glasses are Oliver Peoples.” Photograph by Joslyn Blair.
“There really isn’t much of a dress code at Elle, but if I am going for a more laid-back look, I tend to rely on this Étoile Isabel Marant wrap dress. My brother and friend P.J. tell me that it looks like a karate gi, but what do they know? The shoes are the same Jean-Michel Cazabat slides. What can I say? I love ’em.” Photograph by Katie Friedman.
Think you or someone you know deserves a chance in the What I Wear to Work spotlight? E-mail email@example.com with pictures and a job description for consideration.
Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.
“From the time I was born, my summers have been spent at the beach,” says Sissy Yates, a native Washingtonian who has helmed the jewelry label Sissy Yates Designs for the past seven years. “Our family and friends usually set up beach chairs in a wide circle each day and share in everything from food to beach toys to gossip.” Yates, who heads to Martha’s Vineyard for the month of August, describes what makes a perfect beach day for her.
What do you bring to the beach?
A Roberta Roller Rabbit tunic and beach towel, Sun Bum sunscreen, Havaianas flip-flops, a lightweight beach chair that can be carried like a backpack, a boogie board, healthy snacks, and a bucket for collecting sea treasures.
Your favorite beaches?
Black Point or Quansoo on Martha’s Vineyard, Point Dume in California, Santa Teresa in Costa Rica, Tulum in Mexico, and Anguilla.
Best beach activity?
Walking for miles on the sand, searching for inspiration for my jewelry; bonfires at night; clambakes; and time with family.
This article appears in the August 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
Getting a pedicure is a great way to enjoy a little downtime—not to mention a dose of beauty—during a busy week. But with hundreds of nail salons around the area, it’s tough to know which are the good ones to keep on file. We’ve come up with a list of pedicure places—recommended by beauty aficionados who get frequent pedis—for a reliable, fast (but not too fast), pampering experience.
Leesburg Nails Spa
108 South St., SE, Leesburg; 703-777-3777
Owned by a husband-and-wife team, Leesburg Nails Spa gets praise for customer service and its dedication to detail and comfort during treatments. The Express Pedicure ($25) is the entry-level option, but if you feel like a splurge, we suggest the $65 Green Tea Spa Pedi.
Bonus: Pay just $5 more and get an indulgent paraffin wax treatment with your pedi.
Nails by the Falls
9912 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls; 703-438-3900
The basic pedicure ($36) at this Great Falls nail salon is a popular choice. Owner Jennie Le gets raves for her friendly demeanor and, although it costs extra, her nail-art skill.
Present Nail Spa
1112-B W. Broad St., Falls Church; 703-237-6245
A spa-like tranquility encourages relaxation at this Falls Church favorite, where the pedicure menu is extensive but the 30-minute Present Pedicure ($32) is a solid choice. After a soak and an invigorating peppermint scrub, the service includes a foot massage with warm lotion.
Sugar House Day Spa & Salon
111 N. Alfred St., Alexandria; 703-549-9940
You can often grab a walk-in appointment at this quaint day spa, which has just three pedicure stations (reservations recommended). With complimentary beverages and a spa atmosphere, the 45-minute basic pedicure provides more serenity than your average walk-in nail salon—making it worth the $45.
Bonus: Sugar House just launched its own line of nail polish.
21 Nail Lounge
2209-C N. Pershing Dr., Arlington; 703-465-4707
Although big, this new salon manages to avoid an assembly-line vibe, with relaxing service—it offers clients a beverage upon arrival—and a large selection of colors, including those from Vinylux, which boasts chip-free polish for a week. The Classic Pedicure ($33) covers the basics and includes a hot-towel treatment, but we’d suggest an upgrade to the citrus-infused Sun Kissed Pedicure ($50).
If you haven’t yet stopped by Sterling & Burke, we strongly advise that you do. The refined selection of leather goods at this Pennsylvania Avenue boutique is an immediate reflection of British good taste. At first glance, it’s all about the details. Why toss your jewelry in a zippered pocket if you can roll it in a suede-lined case handmade in England? Or for the well-traveled gent, leave the note pad at home and document your overseas visit in a grosgrain leather diary instead. The impeccable attention to detail got us thinking: What would Sterling & Burke designer Alexandra J. Megan advise her customers to buy? She provided us with a curated selection of items for the professional man and woman, as well as hand-picked pieces for those looking to get away.
Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.