Preppy style is easy to pick out because of how little it changes. Specific items may fall out of favor (never again, pleated-front khakis), but the primary colors and classic cuts remain signature elements that work for men of all generations. Which is precisely how a city kid like Tim Downing ends up in outfits only a few shades off from what you’ll see on golf courses at suburban country clubs.
“My style is not too far from the old Connecticut guy’s,” says Downing, a designer at the Bethesda needlepoint company Smathers & Branson. “What I do differently is keep the cuts of my clothes slim and modern. And I’ll make things interesting by incorporating tropical, African, or other big patterns.”
With 90 degree weather on the forecast, Washington is officially getting into its summertime swing, and it’s time to make sure you’ve got your heat-wave staples squared away. For your next beach day or boating trip, ditch the $500 pairs of eyewear for these inexpensive sunglasses that, while trendy, won’t make too much of a dent in your budget if they don’t make it safely back to shore. At these prices, you might as well snatch up a pair for every day of the week.
Buying vintage clothes and accessories can be a great way to transform a bland look. Take a basic outfit, throw on a chunky vintage accessory, and bada-bing-bada-boom: you've got style. To help local women find their way in the world of vintage, on Sunday, May 17, DC Style Factory owner and chief stylist Rosana Vollmerhausen is hosting a workshop called “How to Glam Clothes from Past Decades into a Modern Wardrobe.” The two-hour workshop will cover everything from how to shop for vintage goods to what pieces work best with a modern wardrobe.
Shop Around got in touch with Vollmerhausen to find out her top tips for a savvy vintage shopper.
Look for jewelry.
“Jewelry is the easiest and most fun way to bring vintage into your wardrobe, in my opinion. Vintage jewelry is often higher quality than a lot of modern costume jewelry, and it's also often much less expensive.”
Check for quality.
“What we are really looking for is clothing from eras past that feels high-quality, stylish, and special. We do recommend inspecting vintage clothing for any fading, stains and rips to make sure it is in good condition.”
Don’t overdo it.
“Pick one vintage garment for your look and pair with modern pieces. For example, I just bought a psychedelic pink, mint green, yellow print short-sleeve jacket that could easily go very wrong. But I have worn it with a white t-shirt, army green cargo pants and nude peep-toe heel booties--it’s grounded by the boyishness of the rolled cargo-style pants and brought into 2015 with the nude peep-toe booties. The key is, you don't want to look like you stepped out of a time machine."
Start small, and add as you go.
“Try some vintage jewelry and work that into your wardrobe. One of my first vintage pieces was a large copper square pendant necklace from the 1970s that was etched and had tassels hanging off it. I wear it with a simple t-shirt, boyfriend jeans and metallic sandals. The outfit would otherwise feel very blah, but I slip that vintage necklace on and all of the sudden it's a look.”
Pass on the pumps.
“Avoid vintage shoes. Shoes today have better comfort and construction.”
Wear one vintage piece per outfit—unless you can get away with more.
The rule of thumb is one piece of vintage per look, but some vintage garments really do look like they could be bought today. Modern designers borrow from the past all the time. If a vintage piece is simple and has a classic silhouette, then there is no reason you couldn't pair it with another more statement-making vintage piece.
Ready to start shopping? Start here.
“Amalgamated Classic Clothing and Dry Goods in Del Ray, Legendary Beast on U Street for jewelry, and PollySue's in Takoma Park for party dresses.”
The vintage styling workshop will take place at Amalgamated Classic Clothing and Dry Goods, 1904 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, on May 17 from 2 to 4 PM. Purchase tickets here.
When she attends a wedding as a guest, color and comfort are her main priorities—no matter the dress code. “You’ll definitely see me on the dance floor, so something that can move and allow me to have fun is a must,” she says.
“Fashion makes me feel alive,” says Andrea Rinaldi, a New Jersey native, wife, and mother of two whose Chevy Chase closet could rival that of any socialite. “What woman doesn’t like to look and feel amazing?” True—but most women aren’t able to shop at boutiques with names like Dior, Chanel, Valentino, and Hermès.
“Coco Chanel once said, ‘A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous,’ ” says Rinaldi, who is married to dentist Peter Rinaldi. While she admits to indulging in splurges, one thing she isn’t buying is the notion that great looks can coexist only with big price tags. “You can dress up any outfit with a fantastic bag, gorgeous shoes, and a bunch of pearls. DC is a classy town—you need the pearls.”
Asked what she’d save if she had three minutes before her closet exploded, Rinaldi goes with some basics (“my white V-neck Hanes T-shirts and my Frame denim”) and some not-so-basics (“my Hermès Evelyne PM cross-body bag, my Dolce & Gabbana pantsuit, and all of my cashmere”).
What we admire about Renaldi is her complete ownership of her showy style. “Anyone can be fashionable in Washington,” she says. “It just takes the right ensemble.”
This article appears in our March 2015 issue of Washingtonian.
Wine tasting and book signing with fashion photographer Nigel Barker
Enjoy both fashion and wine in a celebration of author and photographer Nigel Barker’s new book, Models of Influence. Barker, known for his work on America’s Next Top Model and The Face, will be available to sign your copy, while you indulge in small-production wines from around the world. Purchase the book with a complimentary wine tasting ($42.30) or a ticket for wine tasting only ($10) from Eventbrite. Space is limited. DCanter, 545 Eighth St., SE. Saturday, February 28, 1 to 4 PM.
Button up with Hugh & Crye
Stop by Logan Circle pop-up location to shop the personalized selection of local shirtmakers Hugh & Crye. Browse gentlemen’s dress shirts, blazers, ties, and even vintage accessories while the brand awaits the opening of its Navy Yard location. RSVP via Eventbrite. West Elm, 1728 14th St., NW. Friday, February 27, through Sunday, March 1, noon to 6 PM.
Sip and shop at the official launch of Shopaholic City
Online women’s boutique Shopaholic City hosts the official launch of its website with refreshments, music, and lightly worn designer and vintage pieces. Preview the consignment store’s spring and summer collection and purchase must-have items. RSVP for the free event. Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good Hope Rd., SE. Sunday, March 1, 3 to 6 PM.
If Washington’s bars seem somewhat emptier on Friday night than usual, there’s likely a good reason: Everyone is at home binge-watching season three of House of Cards. The Netflix original series, which will be released on Friday, has become an image of DC fashion, particularly through the character of Claire Underwood, with her black sheath dresses, five-inch heels, and always classy accessories.
Claire’s power look is one that many a Washington woman would like to find in her own wardrobe. That’s why websites like LookLive offer the option for viewers to “shop while you watch,” purchasing the exact pieces seen onscreen—or, if you can’t afford Claire’s $1,300 Yves Saint Laurent handbag, buy similar and “bargain” options from retailers such as Zara, Joe Fresh, and Ann Taylor.
LookLive announced on Wednesday that it will add the full season three wardrobe to its online stock right after airtime on Friday, adding to the portion of season two apparel already available. So enjoy the binge watching, and make sure you’ve got two laptops handy: one for streaming, another for shopping.
Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week wraps up tomorrow, which means that for the past week, Washington has been devoid of many of its faithful style bloggers. Shop Around caught up with a few of those who made the trip up to a frigid, snowy New York to get their take on trends and collections they’re loving.
Meaghan Moynahan of District Sparkle
“My favorite looks for the cooler months are always a black/gray/white palette that play with texture. This was seen a lot in different shows: Rebecca Minkoff, Noon by Noor, Lacoste, Mark and Estel, Banana (their first Fashion Week presentation ever). Fringe is also coming back in a big way. Rebecca Minkoff played with it extremely well in her fall/winter 2015 collection, and I can't wait to get my hands on one of her camel suede fringe jackets!”
Alison Coglianese of Ally Cog
“I loved Nicholas K—it speaks to my edgy side with lots of leather detailing and moody colors. Faux fur is back in a big way for fall and winter 2015. This has been a favorite of mine for the past few seasons, but now we're seeing different colors, textures, and patterns incorporated into it as well. Think the 1960s and '70s, which seemed to inspire many of the collections. You can also expect to see lots of black and white with pops of deep pinks, purples, and reds."
Sarah Philips of 52 Thursdays
"We saw a ton of the minimalist trend on the runways, which we are huge fans of. We also saw tons of fur jackets and stoles, pieces with '70s vibes, Victorian blouses, and over-the-knee boots. It looks like fringe is sticking around for at least one more season, as it pretty much showed up in every show. Metallic bomber jackets were huge, and monochromatic ensembles were popular yet again.”
Cheralee Lyle of Miss Lyle Style
“During a freezing Fashion Week, designers like Tadashi Shoji and Alice + Olivia brought some excitement and royal opulence to the tents.”
Last year, Rent.com published a list of the best cities to be single in, and Washington was third behind New York and San Francisco. Liz Owens, 29, would agree our area holds a certain allure for the unattached—she’s socially active and a seriously good catch.
Smart? Check. Attractive? Check. Independent? Game for fun? Check, check.
“While many of my friends are busy coupling in the suburbs, I’m fervently charging in the opposite direction,” says Owens, an account manager who shares a swank Cathedral Heights pad with a friend.
For nights out, Owens stocks her wardrobe with looks versatile enough to handle whatever the evening entails—whether a date or a gathering with friends:
Dinner for two: “Skinny jeans and heels, a silk blouse in a neutral color.”
Ice skating and a movie: “An oversize sweater. Gray knit beanie. Both hands are required in case of a fall, so go with a Rebecca Minkoff cross-body bag.”
Society soiree: “Nicholas silk dress, velvet pump, gold envelope clutch.”
Fourteenth Street or Shaw neighborhood bar hop: “My favorite scene of all. Rag & Bone jeans, James Perse T-shirt, House of Harlow ring, a pair of Freebird booties and you’ve bagged yourself a hipster.”
What Liz Is Wearing: Jacket from Topshop, H&M beanie, AG “Farrah” skinny jeans, T-shirt by Leith, purse by Olivia & Joy.
Dressing for Date Night
Outfit pieces for a fashion-forward night out in DC.
1. “Moto” jacket, at Joe Fresh ($69) 2. “Crystal” blouse in rose, at Rag & Bone (Georgetown) ($350) 3. Lace bralette, at American Eagle Outfitters ($25) 4. Illuminating Rectangle Ring, at House of Harlow 1960 ($68) 5. “Glover” pump in pink-multi, at Nine West ($89) 6.“Flavia” acrylic clutch by Edie Parker, at Saks Fifth Avenue ($1,595) 7. Jo Jacquard A-line dress,at BCBG Max Azria ($338) 8. Crop top and pencil skirt, at Erika Schrieber ($190 and $178)
Though we still may be in the midst of some of the coldest days of winter, we’re already dreaming of cherry blossom season. As local shops swap out racks of wool for light and bright fabrics, we decided to peek at the wish lists of local fashion leaders to see what they’re hoping to add to their closets as they transition their wardrobe for spring.