For this issue of Frugal Fashionista, we’ve partnered with Kristen Soltis, director of policy research for the Winston Group by day and frontwoman of the local rock band the Frustrations by night.
We’ve caught several of Soltis’s shows and know that her signature red dress spices up the stage, but we also noticed that she was wearing the same thing to every one of her gigs. And hey, half the fun of getting dressed up is putting together a unique outfit to suit your mood.
While scouting the latest spring trends at the recent InStyle and Neiman Marcus preview event, we had the pleasure of meeting Kate Barber, local fashionista and author of style blog Bellwether. Over the past month, we’ve become huge fans of her exuberant style savvy plus her insightful fashion comments, such as one recent post about the history of the J. Crew Collection, J. Crew’s upscale line that has recently made a return to stores.
We naturally bonded over our mutual love of all things style and Washington, and it stood to reason that Barber would make a natural fit for the next Frugal Fashionista column. After all, who better to ask than someone whose blog title means “one that serves as a leader or as a leading indicator of future trends”?
We asked Barrett Evans, a fashionable Arlington resident and former intern for designer Roberto Cavalli, to come up with a trendy yet not too trite Valentine’s outfit. Pink is great, but head-to-toe hearts and sparkles conjure images of Legally Blonde, not a Washingtonian out on the town.
Evans was given $100 to come up with an outfit worthy of a chic date or hitting the town, with the condition that it had to have a Valentine’s-worthy theme.
As for rules, we assumed Evans was searching for something that she or one of her friends would be comfortable wearing. In a new twist, we admitted that the ultimate secret of a bargain shopper is one who can mix luxe with less in the same outfit. So we’re allowing Evans the luxury of wearing both her Theory leather jacket (one of the season’s “it” accessories) and a favorite handbag or pair of simple shoes. After all, a girl has to make use of what’s in her closet—nobody can afford to buy an entirely new outfit for every occasion.
What she picked:
Aragon, who co-owns the Lorton fashion-photography studio Fashion400 with her husband, Luis, says that her favored look for clients is “clean yet strong.” Her number-one priority in a makeup application is to make the skin appear to be glowing from within. “Once the canvas of the face is correct,” she says, “the rest is easy.”
Aragon has worked with CNN, HBO, the BBC, the NFL, Glamour, People, DC Modern Luxury, and the Washington Post as well as high-profile and celebrity clientele from Larry King to Kimberly Peirce, director of Boys Don’t Cry.
What she chose:
As Washingtonians frantically finalize plans for inaugural activities, over at Frugal Fashionista we’ve been brainstorming ideas for a swoon-worthy outfit for less than the price of most inaugural tickets. And who better to enlist for the task than former Miss DC and K Street Kate blogger Kate Michael? The pageant queen and model knows a thing (or 30) about dressing up, but she admits to frequently dropping more than a few Benjamins on dresses and shoes.
Before we got started, Michael was rattling off questions like a pro: Long or short? Was a bag included? Were any stores off limits? Even better, she was offering advice. It turns out that many of her pageant gowns, despite their black-tie formality, can’t be worn to events such as a ball—mostly because they have a train, which would rip or be soiled in a large crowd.
So we made the task hard for this veteran shopper—$200, no more, for a full inaugural-ball-worthy outfit that she herself would consider sporting to an upcoming event.
As far as rules go, we assumed that Michael was searching for a dress she’d wear herself but that her wardrobe was admittedly more limited than it is. We assumed she owned basic undergarments and tights—but nothing fancy.
Here’s what she found:
In the second installment of the Frugal Fashionista, we’ve asked A Not So Capitol Idea blogger Chandler Ramelli to come up with a swoon-worthy New Year’s Eve outfit around $100.
Not familiar with the series? Here are the details: Every other week, we ask a local stylista to complete a fashion task—sometimes seasonal, sometimes fun—on a budget.
We assumed that the 34-year-old Ramelli owned basic undergarments and tights—but nothing fancy.
New Year’s Eve needs a little glitz and glam, says Ramelli, but she knows that a wear-once outfit shouldn’t cost a lot. So she immediately turned to favorite retailers such as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls to satisfy her designer tastes on a discount budget.
And Ramelli didn’t disappoint: She came up with not only one but two variations on a look, each for around $100 and suitable for a variety of body types.
Here’s what she chose:
Every other week, we’ll ask a local stylista to complete a task—some seasonal and some just for fun—on a budget. Think of it as a Washington-focused “The Look for Less,” the Style Network TV show that creates a particular look on a budget.
For our inaugural issue, we’ve asked resident DC blogger Makeda Saggau-Sackey of the Glamazon Diaries to come up with a holiday party outfit for under $50.
We gave her an easy go of it for this round, saying she could wear any simple black dress she had in her closet.