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These wardrobe staples can be surprisingly tricky. DC Style Factory's Rosana Vollmerhausen shares how to nail the fit. By Caroline Cunningham
Image courtesy of DC Style Factory.

For Washington’s professional women, skirts are a wardrobe essential. But according to DC Style Factory founder Rosana Vollmerhausen, who spends her days auditing and filling the closets of men and women in the District, skirts also tend to be “the redheaded stepchild of any woman’s wardrobe.” That’s why Vollmerhausen has teamed up with Betsy Garcete of Zophia, a handmade “power skirt” company based in DC, to offer a skirt styling workshop on March 12.

As Vollmerhausen prepares for the workshop, Shop Around checked in to get her tips on what women should look for when buying and styling skirts.

1. Have your bases covered. “The classic skirts I have been putting in my clients’ closets are a black power pencil skirt in a fun texture like leather or faux leather, a neutral knee-length A-line skirt in a ponte fabric that skims your curves instead of hugs them like the pencil, and a three-season wool-blend pencil skirt in a color or easy-to-match pattern.”

2. Professional doesn’t have to mean boring. “An animal-print pencil skirt with a silky cream blouse, black blazer, and pumps still maintains that classic look, but the animal print adds interest. I also always try to put in clients' closets pencil skirts that are not black, but a rich red or teal or an interesting pattern to mix things up.”

3. You can make any skirt style work for your body type.

Petite frames: “You want your midi skirts to hit a bit below your knee but not go all the way to your calf, which will start to look a little sister-wife. You can wear maxis, but stick with a solid maxi instead of any bold prints that can overwhelm a petite frame, and always make sure the hemline is just so your toes peek out at the bottom.”

Curvier types: “You can wear pencil skirts. For wide hips, just wear with a top or jacket that hits at your hip, which will minimize and balance your curves. If you’re fuller around the middle, pair your pencil skirt with a wrap top, a cute jacket, or blouse that can be left untucked, and add a scarf or necklace to draw attention up.”

4. Stay on-trend. “Remember the statement necklace? Well, it’s all about the statement skirt this season. Whether wrapped, asymmetrical, embellished, or emblazoned with bold prints, these skirts are a great way to mix up your wardrobe."

5. If you go big, go home. One of the biggest mistakes women make is buying skirts that are too large. “Nothing off the rack is going to fit your body exactly the way it should. My clients will most often leave pencil skirts hanging below their waistline, which throws off your proportions so that your torso looks longer than your legs.”

Skirting the Issue. Betsy Fisher 1224 Connecticut Ave., NW. March 12, 5:30 to 8 PM.

Posted at 01:15 PM/ET, 02/25/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Find your soul mate for $5,000. By Caroline Cunningham
Photograph by Shutterstock/Nejron Photo.

Need a date for this Valentine’s Day? Step away from the Tinder: Three Day Rule, an LA-based matchmaking company, launches in DC on Wednesday.

Founder Talia Goldstein got started in the biz while working at E! Entertainment, where she'd become the office go-to for dating advice. As more friends started asking for her to set them up, she began hosting singles events—which quickly boomed to 600-person guest lists.

Talia Goldstein is the founder and CEO of Three Day Rule. Photograph courtesy Three Day Rule.

It was then that Goldstein decided to quit her job and launch TDR, her answer to the high-performing, busy modern women and men who want to find their soul mate without wasting time on bad first dates.

Anyone can join TDR as a free member, which puts them in a database of potential matches for the paid clients. But the company’s most popular offering is a $5,000 six-month matchmaking package, which includes TDR representatives hunting down candidates and meeting them in person to vet them for compatibility, plus access to TDR events, a photography session, dating coaching and styling, and feedback after each date. There's also a $3,500 package, which provides three months of personalized matchmaking without any of the added perks.

We asked Goldstein to give us a bit of background on this “white-glove” matchmaking company and what made Washington next on their list for launching the service.

Why should singles sign up for Three Day Rule, rather than just using OkCupid or eHarmony?

Think of us as the solution to outsource your dating life. Were not another online dating site or mobile app. We put the human touch back into dating. Our white-glove service means that we hand-select and vet every potential match in person before making any formal introductions to clients. We get answers to the questions that youd like to know but might be awkward or uncomfortable to ask: Do you want kids? Do you want to settle down in the suburbs or city? We also go to specific events looking for matches on the clients behalf. As an example, if our client wants a corporate type, our matchmakers will infiltrate finance events and lawyer conferences to meet matches for them.

Walk me through the TDR matchmaking process. I sign up for TDR—now what?

You grab coffee with your matchmaker and get to know her, and she gets to learn about you and your preferences. She then goes back to our database and finds about 100 people who seem to fit what you are looking for based on their profile. She starts meeting with potential matches in person to vet them and make sure they would be a strong match. When she finds someone she truly believes is a great match for you, she will send you a bio she has written and photos and ask if youd like to meet them. If you say yes, you go on a date and then give your matchmaker feedback after the date. We also gather feedback from the match to share with you.

Why launch the next branch of TDR in Washington?

The DC dating scene can be difficult due to demanding work schedules and the transient population. There is a huge opportunity for TDR to help DCs large population of accomplished, busy professionals who are single and looking for a committed relationship.

Who’s your target clientele in DC?

Singles who are ready for a committed relationship and want a partner in that process. We work with both men and women and with all types of people—busy professionals, Fortune 500 executives, successful entrepreneurs, screenwriters, teachers, and artists. Our clients tend to range in age from 28 to 65, but we are always on the lookout for quality singles of any age.

What do you love about matchmaking?

There is nothing more fulfilling than helping the singles we work with make meaningful connections and find love. I really enjoy meeting all of the amazing singles we work with—everyone is unique and interesting and has so much to offer. And I obviously love attending weddings of the couples that Ive matched!

Posted at 11:54 AM/ET, 01/13/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The model and actress was in Washington Thursday to chat about her new book. By Caroline Cunningham
All photographs by Daniel Swartz Photography.

A seven-months-pregnant Molly Sims arrived at Drybar Bethesda on Thursday night to sign copies of her latest book, The Everyday Supermodel, her Bible for women who want to look and feel their best.

The glossy, 320-page tome includes plenty of autobiographical anecdotes—Sims's transformation from a unibrowed teen to Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, losing the 72 pounds she gained with her first pregnancy—plus advice on subjects such as how often women should wash their hair.

Sims had been on a talk show in New York that morning and she was flying out to Los Angeles the next day, but she paused in Washington to sign some books and stay overnight at the Hay Adams—she wanted to stay somewhere “historic,” she said—and to weigh in on DC style with Washingtonian.

How long have you wanted to write this book?

I think the book has probably been in my mind for three or four years. It started with me being who I am—I love giving advice, and I’ve always been that girl. It started with my girlfriends, and then it went to a blog, giving out tips and secrets on mollysims.com, and now here we are, two years later, with a book.

People often say Washington style is conservative. What do you think?

You know what? I love DC style. It is a tad conservative, but I love it because I think it’s so ultimately chic. I love the women who embrace color in DC, and even though the forms and the structure of the outfits might be quite simple, they mix it up with statement necklaces. I love Mrs. Obama’s style where she wears a beautiful tea-length skirt with a cardigan and a statement necklace. I do think it’s a little conservative, but DC style has a definite chicness and a sense of play, whether it's with a color or with accessories.

So how would you define DC style?

When I think of DC, I think, “They take care of themselves. They dress up.” It’s not like Los Angeles where you’re going to be in your flip-flops and your rolled-up boyfriend jeans and your long boyfriend cardigans or an oversize sweater. And it’s not like New York, where it’s head-to-toe designer. There’s an elegance to DC.

What are the must-haves in your closet?

I love the cross-body bag. I think every woman should have one—it makes you hands-free, it’s good on the go, and you can tuck in the straps and make it a chic clutch at night. Also, a boyfriend jacket that you can wear with a tank top or over an amazing dress. I always tell women to really play with their accessories. Have two or three great handbags, a great pair of black heels, a great pair of nude heels. Those are my staples.

How do you keep that supermodel glow on the road?

If I’m going from a long working morning to day to an afternoon to night, I will try to use a primer to help my makeup last longer. There are some wonderful ones out there, such as Smashbox or Make Up For Ever. I also use lipgloss or a rosebud salve that you can get at your local drugstore on my eyelids to get that natural glow. As you get older, think creams and use less powder, and make sure to hydrate and moisturize.

Posted at 01:29 PM/ET, 01/09/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The app, which launched this month, automatically gives a portion of every purchase to the cause of your choice. By Caroline Cunningham
Photographs by PopNod.

Stephanie David was working as an account executive for Microsoft in Washington, when a trip to Thailand inspired her to take her career in a completely unexpected direction. In 2013, she left her corporate career in favor of fashion for a cause, launching PopNod that November, with a new app version that was released this month.

Through PopNod, members can purchase one of more than 500,000 items from popular retailers, and a portion is automatically donated to one of 55 causes of their choosing.

David, 34, the mind and energy behind PopNod, shares her journey from corporate techie to humanitarian fashionista and her goals for her company.

What was the inspiration for PopNod?

On a chance trip to Thailand in 2009, I met a gracious and kind family who owned an elephant farm. Although the family had very little, they devoted their lives to rescuing, breeding, and raising elephants—a sacred animal in Thai culture. If a single family is able to make a huge impact for an entire country, imagine if everyone felt empowered to help change the world every day. I left my rising career in the corporate world in fall 2013 to launch PopNod, a simple way for people to support the causes they care about while shopping at their favorite stores.

What’s the drive behind the app?

We launched the PopNod app to unite the most fashionable brands with the organizations and people that are changing the world. We wanted to create a beautiful shopping experience enhanced by carefully handpicked stores and curated products, combined with the ease of giving with every purchase. We also strive to create an engaging community for anyone to share their style stories and connect with their favorite brands, impactful organizations, and other mission-driven people.

Why do you think Washington makes a good market to launch this app?

We have met amazing people in the DC community—fashion bloggers, stylists, designers, retailers, nonprofit supporters, and others. And with DC being the epicenter of the nonprofit community and the setting for a growing fashion scene, we are excited to be a part of the fashion and tech community in DC.

How do the donations work?

We automatically donate a portion of your purchase to your cause every time you shop. You pay the same price for the item as you would if you purchased it normally—PopNod matches a portion of your purchase and donates it to your cause. It's a win-win for you and your cause.

What’s the benefit of this kind of built-in giving?

Our goal is to show people that giving back can be done simply and in small ways. I think that people sometimes feel uncomfortable to give back if they don't have large amounts to give. Much like small acts of kindness, the little gives can add up to a whole lot more without you even realizing it. For example, as little as $1 will provide a hot, nutritious meal for a child in need. If a single person donated one dollar every week, or a thousand people donated one dollar—imagine the impact.

Posted at 09:35 AM/ET, 12/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The nail designer and reality-show competitor talks fingertip trends and post-show plans. By Kay Wicker
Celeste Hampton competes on Oxygen's Nail'd It. Still courtesy of Oxygen Media/Lindsey Byrnes.

The journey from humble manicurist to reality-TV star has been an unusual and unexpected one for DC native Celeste Hampton. After growing up in Japan as part of a military family, Hampton attended Eastern Technical School in Georgia and largely taught herself the trade—the art lover is known for elaborate Warhol- and Picasso-inspired nail designs—before winding up a competitor on Oxygen’s reality show Nail’d It, which airs Tuesdays at 9. We chatted with Hampton to get the scoop on her favorite nail trends and what it’s like to be on a reality show.

What inspired you to go into nail art?

I've always been an artist—I got that from my dad. My dad draws, so I've been drawing all my life. That was the aspect that I loved about doing nails: trying to put something regular-size on a very small canvas.

How has your time in DC influenced your nail art?

The fashion here is amazing. That definitely inspires a lot of my nails. At DC Fashion Week, I definitely pay attention to all the different trends and mimic that with my nail art.

What's a nail trend you've seen recently?

People ask for nudes so much! It's so popular in the fashion world right now. I try to have every shade of nude. Everyone loves Swarovski crystals. I order those, like, every month because people want them all the time. They're beautiful. Floral patterns are very huge. I do a lot of hand-painted faces on people's nails.

Really? What kind of faces?

I had a client who wanted her boss's face on her nails. It was a challenge for her job. I take a lot from art, too. When I do the nails of people who are already artists, I don't want to mess up on a piece they consider their baby. I love doing stuff like that because the artists themselves are always so amazed at the extent of it.

Did you ever think you'd be on a reality show?

Never, ever did I ever think I would be on a reality show. Ever. When Oxygen reached out to me, I thought it was a joke. They found me through social networks. It was crazy.

What are your plans if you win?

I want my own salon in DC. A nail bar.

What's it been like on the show so far?

It's definitely stressful. I've never done a competition before. This is all new to me. You have to be here, and you’re under strict time. When I do nails I can pretty much map out how much time it takes for me to finish a client, but when you have a clock sitting in front of you and you're down to the second, it is stressful. But I've had so much fun doing this. Oxygen has really stepped up as far as the network is concerned. This is the first nail show in the US—the opportunity is once in a lifetime. It's been a journey, to say the least.

Posted at 10:08 AM/ET, 11/04/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The budding fashion designer got her start sponge-painting in Chevy Chase before finding success in New York. By Maddy Berner
Photograph by Arden Way.

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.

Van Dusen in her own design. Photograph by Amanda Jasnowski.

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.

Posted at 12:20 PM/ET, 08/14/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Ahead of her appearance at the Front Row, the TV star and author shares style tips and her favorite local spots. By Diana Elbasha
Maria Menounos will be in Bethesda this weekend for The Front Row. Photographs courtesy of BrandLinkDC.

Tonight marks day two of Bethesda Row’s annual fashion extravaganza, the Front Row, and the appearance of this year’s VIP guest, Maria Menounos. The Extra host and reality television star is constantly on our radar for her impeccable style—from red-carpet stunners to cute, workout-motivating fitness wear and everything in between—so it seemed only fitting that she’d headline one of the area’s most highly anticipated fashion events. Before sitting front and center at the runway show that takes over Bethesda Lane Friday evening, Menounos will greet guests and sign copies of her newly released book, The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet & Fitness, in front of Redwood restaurant beginning at 5. While sit-down tickets to the show, which kicks off at 7:30, are sold out, guests are still welcome to purchase copies of the book and meet the star beforehand. Read on for our interview with Menounos, who told Shop Around about everything from her favorite DC spots to her closet essentials. 

Welcome to Washington! What has your experience been with our city? Any favorite spots?

I love the city and being active in causes I believe in. I’ve advocated for diabetes awareness on the Hill and have been a part of other coverage and advocacy efforts. I also love the history surrounding Washington, and seeing the cherry blossoms never gets old. 

What’s your impression of DC fashion? 

Most people say it’s conservative, but I disagree. The style is some of the sharpest around; it’s smart and sexy.

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Posted at 12:36 PM/ET, 06/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
See the trailer for the locally based fashion documentary. By Diana Elbasha

Plagued by a false image of conservativism when it comes to style, DC’s self-described rep as an emerging fashion capital is often a controversial one. Personally, we feel its rapid spike in local labels with an increasingly edgy, entreprenurial lean (not to mention the roster of powerhouse designers that have come our way lately) has our city on its way to said status, but, alas, non-Washingtonians hardly see it that way. That's where Elaine Mensah comes in.

In her just-finished documentary The Politics of Fashion (produced by Svelte), Mensah aims to challenge the public's impression that DC lacks authority in the fashion department. The local-star-studded picture pulls together the city’s most powerful forces in styleincluding our own fashion editor, Kate Glassman Bennettto offer the public some insight into DC's increasingly influential fashion scene. The remaining cast is a mix of creative talents that make up all facets of local style, from Pulizer-winning critic Robin Givhan, to the young founder of Worn Creative, Nicole Aguirre, to luxury public relations pro Aba Kwawu. A slew of bloggers, shop-owners, designers, and more also make an appearance. The film premieres tonight during a kickoff celebration at Mazza Gallerie; tickets are sold out, but guests can add themselves to a waitlist via Eventbrite. Take a peek at the trailer below.

 

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Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 06/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The sophisticated label debuted its first collection this month. By Diana Elbasha

Alvaro Roche and Elsa Arcila. Photograph by Joy Asico.

Designers Alvaro Roche and Elsa Arcila have traveled the world for fashion—with stops in France, Venezuela, and Italy—but it wasn’t until they got to Washington that they decided to set down roots. Following years of experience in the industry, including Roche’s stint with designer Gianfranco Ferré and Arcila’s degree from LA’s esteemed Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), the pair noticed a void in the style scene of their new hometown, and decided to take it upon themselves to fill it. Thus was born Aroche, their namesake fashion label whose inaugural collection of minimalist flats, patterned clutches, and customizable totes debuted online in early March. We caught up with the designers to hear more about Aroche’s origin and what’s next for the brand.

How and when did you decide to launch an accessories line?

Alvaro Roche: In the past three years, we’ve noticed a higher success rate in online brands. We want to be a part of that success. We also wanted to change the reputation that Washingtonians are unfashionable. DC is the capital of the US, after all! I was especially interested in customizing and personalizing bags. When we started figuring out who our target customers were, we realized shoes were the perfect product to complete the picture—light, well-proportioned nylon/leather bags and funky, comfortable flats.

Alvaro, you attended Parsons and worked for Ferré while Elsa gained fashion experience at FIDM. Can you give us an example of how you’ve applied skills from those experiences in creating Aroche?

AR: I worked at Ferré during a time when art and fashion were almost indistinguishable. It was a very free and creative period. I cofounded EPK, a children’s clothing line, and was designing thousands of items per year. I learned how to hone that creativity into salable products at an industrial and affordable level. When Elsa and I first talked about Aroche, we agreed it had to be the marriage of two concepts: great design and affordability. Instead of working on thousands of styles, we focused our attention on making sure the sizes, details, and proportions were perfect. We could only do that if we kept the collection small.

Elsa Arcila: At FIDM, I was exposed to new technologies and multichannel marketing. It helped me envision the strategy that Aroche would take as a brand. I also learned that e-commerce was the future of marketing and retail.

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Posted at 10:45 AM/ET, 03/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Meet Cameron St. Clair Archer, the creative spirit behind this Bloomingdale-based jewelry biz. By Michelle Thomas
All photographs by Andrew Propp.

Cameron St. Clair Archer’s designs for her namesake jewelry line are a study in perfectly chic contrasts: Blend one part industrial (she works with reclaimed metals) with a dash of tough (hello, spikes and chains), and mix in a bit of earthy, organic beauty (thanks to the raw stones and delicate gems). Finish with a healthy dose of asymmetry and some lush color, and the result is that sweet spot between sculptural cool and endless wearability. Archer launched the line in 2010 after teaching herself to rework her own jewelry, and now it’s a full-time job.

We stopped by her Bloomingdale workspace recently to see where the magic happens, and chatted with her about why she likes working in DC, and how abstract concepts like spontaneity and adventure inspire her designs. Read on for the scoop—and peep her seriously gorgeous creations.

Tell us a little about your background. How did you end up designing jewelry? 

I’ve always been pretty crafty, and I love using my hands—the dirtier the better, be it painting, sanding, drilling, refinishing, gluing, you name it. I suppose the jewelry came about from a real lack of creative expression at a previous job. I was hungry for it, and started to take apart/recreate jewelry I already owned just to see if it was something I enjoyed doing. I did some research and started buying simple starter materials. I would stay up very late designing, and I’d wear my creations the next day. I started getting compliments, and women would ask me who the designer was and where they could buy pieces. Thus, Saint Clair Jewelry. There’s something equally meditative and invigorating about designer jewelry—the combinations truly are endless.

How would you describe the Saint Clair customer? 

The Saint Clair woman is not afraid to take risks. She stands out in a crowd; she is a leader, a thinker, an empowered woman who knows what she wants. She appreciates and practices openness and inclusiveness. She is a risk-taker, she’s goofy—unapologetically so—and, more important, she is confident, which is the most beautiful piece of jewelry anyone can own. 

How has your work evolved since you started designing? 

I definitely take more risks. I lean more toward asymmetrical designs, and I don’t stick to one genre. I also am not so obsessed with following the latest and greatest trends, which I’ve learned can really inhibit creative freedom. I make things I like—things that feel right—and I put myself out there. Like I said, design possibilities are truly endless, and if you limit yourself to one genre, it becomes a bit sticky. 

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Posted at 02:29 PM/ET, 11/05/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()