Allison Curtis, 19
Student, American University
What she’s wearing: Dress from Smash! in Adams Morgan, thrift-store boots, and tights from the back of her sock drawer.
What will you be wearing this summer? “Dresses along the lines of this one. I’ll be going to thrift stores to load up. I like Unique Thrift and Value Village because they’re large. And St. Alban’s Episcopal Church has a thrift store right across the street from my apartment.”
Do you have a style uniform? “Oversize sweaters and tops with black skinny pants of some kind. Anything high-waisted, like American Apparel Disco Pants.”
Rachel says: A loose dress, ripped tights, and old boots? Some of you will say “no thanks,” but Allison’s look represents a certain undone, less-is-more swagger that’s all the rage in fashion circles right now. If the New York Times says it’s true. . . .
Katie Nash, 22
Student, University of Maryland
What she’s wearing: “Actually, it’s all from H&M!” The sandals were a recent purchase from Target.
So you must be an H&M fan. “It’s cheap and fashionable. I’m a college student, so it’d be tough to shop anywhere else.”
Tell me about your style. “Laid-back, earthy. I don’t like to throw a bunch of trends on all at once. I’m not big on heels and super-short miniskirts.”
Favorite things in your closet? “My tall Minnetonka boots with layered tassels. They’re all worn in; they’re my go-to boots. And pair of acid-wash skinny jeans.”
What will you be wearing this summer? “I’m a big dress fan. The long, flowing Maxi style is my thing.”
Rachel says: I’m not making any argument here that Katie’s look is revolutionary (can we all agree, though, that her hair is completely amazing?). But quite simply, Katie’s outfit struck me as just the right sort of thing to wear to a live show on a spring day. Light, loose layers, flat shoes, and a cross-body bag are all good ideas for a concert.
Michael Harold, 24
Scheduler and executive assistant, Congressman Earl Blumenauer
What he’s wearing: J. Crew shirt, Banana Republic cardigan, American Apparel tie, Urban Outfitters pants, Cole Haan shoes, and Tom Davies glasses.
Where he likes to shop: American Apparel, H&M (“They have the Black Label line. The cuts are slim, and it doesn’t look like you’re swimming in your dad’s suit.”), the sale racks at Banana Republic and J. Crew, and Gilt Groupe.
Your outfit seems to have much more personality than the standard suit you typically see. “On the Hill, everyone’s in a suit, and it just doesn’t feel very comfortable. I’m from Oregon, so I guess I bring some of that vibe. In my first internship on the Hill, I wore bad suits. I didn’t know what I was doing. But young guys forget that you can change it up—roll up your sleeves, wear a better tie, try a cardigan. It doesn’t have to be a suit every day.”
Tell me your tips for being stylish on the Hill. “Basically, it comes down to wearing clothes that fit. And just because you’re wearing ‘nice’ clothes doesn’t mean they necessarily look good on. Try a slim-fitting blazer or suit; pants that aren’t baggy and flared out; skinny ties; nice socks; bright colors; a cool belt; and textured shirts, jackets, and pants (think tweed—very nice!). Always wear collar stays. Look at your tie and the rest of your outfit before you put it on. And no pleats!”
Vanessa Confesor, 15
Student at McKinley Technology High School
What she’s wearing: A vintage floral shirt with a jacket, jeans, and necklace from Urban Outfitters; Aeropostale belt; and Vans shoes.
On her style: “I like more casual things. I like to wear vintage, so I won’t have what everyone else does.”
What’s something you’d never wear? “I don’t like plain jeans. I like something to stand out.”
What are you shopping for this spring? “Flats, parachute pants, and cropped shirts that I’ll wear with skirts or jeans.”
AJ Singletary, 24
Environmental-policy analyst, Department of Transportation
What he’s wearing: Express shirt, vest, and pants with a Ben Sherman tie and tie bar, and Aldo shoes.
Where do you shop in Washington? “I get a fair amount at the outlets. Bargain bins are a good thing. I get basics at Express, Nordstrom, Saks, Banana, and Zara, and I look for accessories in boutiques.”
Are you satisfied with the shopping options? “You have to be careful because if you shop here, you’ll run into a lot of people wearing the same thing. I shop at a place called Jimmy’z in St. Louis when I’m home.”
Tell me about your style. “A little dark. I wear a lot of straight legs, leather, high-tops, and chains.”
How do you dress for work? “This is more like something I’d wear to work. Guys can mix up their look with things like cufflinks and tie bars, so I’ll do that. Sometimes I’ll wear an ascot instead of a tie. Sometimes I get ‘So, you’re wearing that . . . ’ comments at work, but I kind of like it.”
Rachel says: I like AJ’s take on classic summer suiting. The rolled-up shirt, vest sans jacket, and pocket-watch-style chain all add personality and visual interest to the look.
Andrew Rozas, 26
Youth-outreach manager at Earth Day Network
What he’s wearing: “It’s raining, so I had to gear up. The combat boots are Army-issue jungle boots, and the trench is Benetton. The jeans are Levi’s 511s, the cardigan is Ben Sherman, and the button down is a polo for kids—but like, for fat kids; it has really short arms. My favorite thing by far though is my button. It’s for the Earth Day Climate Rally on April 25 on the National Mall. If you see me on the street, ask me for a button—I have thousands of them.”
How would you describe your style? “Whenever I wear this trench with the boots, it reminds me of Ian Curtis from Joy Division. When I bought this coat, I also bought a hooded coat from Muji that’s really tight on the shoulders and then flares out. It reminds me of a Japanese school girl. So I guess I just wear whatever correlates with my mood.”
Do you have any signature pieces or favorite things to wear? “Tight jeans, pretty much all the time. In the summer, above-the-knee cut-off tight jeans. I wish I was kidding, I’m not.”What’s something a guy should never wear? “The Saturday-night outfit: cute top, tight jeans, and heels. I only say that because I don’t think women should ever wear that, and even though you didn’t ask my opinion on them, I kind of want that trend to end. Women have a lot of options for fashion, and they should use them. Guys are a bit more limited.”
What’s something every guy should wear? “I think guys should pay attention to the kinds of coats and jackets they wear. It’s one of the few creative ways that guys can work with their outfits without looking like they’re trying too hard.”
Rachel says: Tough boots add swagger to casual outfits. Take Andrew’s suggestion and check out Army-Navy stores for authentic options.
Victoria Kurzweg, 26
What she’s wearing:
DVF wrap dress from Secondi, American Apparel cardigan, scarf from Anthropologie, Frye boots, American Apparel for Human Rights Campaign tote (coming soon to shop.hrc.org).
Any staple items in your wardrobe? Favorite pieces or signatures?
“I wear this cardigan about every other day. That’s a staple. Thigh-high socks are kind of a signature in the wintertime. Some of my favorite pieces are the ones I don’t get to wear that often: a black vintage sequin dress, a pair of Marc Jacobs stilettos from the spring 2009 runway, and a sleeveless minidress made of tuxedo fabric. I’m also really excited about a vintage chevron-print dress I picked up on eBay.”
What you will be wearing or shopping for this spring?
“More chevrons and deep V necklines. And a hat! That is top priority right now. I’ll be in Smalltown, North Carolina, for the next two months, and I have my hopes up for some decent thrift shops.”
Tatyana Ellis, 24
What she’s wearing: H&M jacket and leggings, Urban Outfitters T-shirt and shoes, Forever 21 necklace, and a necklace from her mother. The bag was a gift, and the glasses are by Barcelona.
Do you get a lot of questions about your hair?
“I do. It’s just easier to have half a head of hair. It’s still feminine, but it’s like a short haircut.”
Tell me about your style.
“Free. A little vintage on a good day. Leggings are a staple. I mix it up with the tops and shoes, but I wear leggings a lot. Leggings and a shirt, and I’m out the door.”
Where do you shop for leggings?
“I bought a few at a stand in the Pentagon City mall. I love the ones with the kneepads. They have silk panels and then kneepads. Sometimes we sell them at H&M.”
Viktoriya Demina, 23
Student, San Diego State University
What she’s wearing:
J. Crew jacket, Martin + Osa jeans and bag, Sisley scarf, and Aldo shoes.
Tell me about your style.
“I usually wear black and white. Today I added a little blue in the scarf. I don’t like anything too fancy-shmancy.”
Where she shops:
Sisley, Zara, Guess, Armani Exchange. “I like the European stores for the slimmer cuts.”
How does style in San Diego differ from Washington?
“San Diego is all casual, flip-flops, and bathing suits. Lots of blond girls with big boobs. The shopping isn’t as good. There are more casual, American-style clothes. Shopping here has been a blessing.”
Shon Armstrong, 17
Junior at Dumbarton High School
What he’s wearing:
Hat, cardigan, and shirt from Urban Outfitters; Levi’s jeans, and Polo boots.
Where he likes to shop:
Diesel, Rugby, American Apparel, Zara.
Tell me about your style.
“Well, we wear a uniform at school, but when I’m not in school I like to look nice. I like to dress in something that everyone else isn’t wearing. Some people clown me, some people like it.”