Erin Allweiss, 27
Communications director for Congressman Earl Blumenauer
What she’s wearing: The earrings are from Eastern Market, and the necklace is from Crafty Bastards. (“I bought more to give as gifts because so many friends liked it.”) Tommy Hilfiger cardigan, vintage belt, Vena Cava dress from Gilt Groupe, funky ‘elf’ shoes from a store in Brooklyn. (“I finally started wearing footwear that’s actually comfortable.”) The coat is from Reiss, and the scarf is from her favorite vintage store—Suzette Sundae in Manhattan’s Alphabet City—which has closed.
How do you stay stylish on the Hill? “Wearing bold colors helps me interject style while still looking professional. I think it’s getting better on the Hill. I’m noticing a lot more men in suits that fit. It must be all the young Democrats.”
Where do you shop? “Vintage shops in New York always seem to have great, affordable things. I get a ton of my stuff in New Orleans [Alweiss is a native]. I try to support the small boutiques there. I just bought a pair of black skinny James jeans from Ruelala.com, just because I know exactly what size I wear.”
Any style quirks? “Hats. I get cold all the time so they’re really functional—I can throw on a hat and then I don’t have to jeopardize the integrity of the rest of the outfit. I can still make it a little funky without having to put a big coat on over it. And in the summer, hats add a quirky kick. When in doubt, I put on a dress. I can layer sundresses in the winter with tights and cardigans. And I have a bit of a belt addiction.”
Jeff Dufour, 35
DC editor, UrbanDaddy.com
What he’s wearing:
“The jacket is Filippa K, a cool Canadian designer from the long and dearly departed Alex Boutique that my friend Liberty Jones ran. It was a great place to shop. It’s cool for the daytime because it’s kinda professorial. It’s got these snaps instead of buttons, which jazz it up a little bit. I’m wearing a lot of layers today because it’s Arctic outside: The sweater is a gift from my wife a few years ago, the shirt is Hugo Boss from a trip to Los Angeles, the jeans are Rock & Republic from this great store in Nashville that sells a lot of rock-music T-shirts—I can’t remember the name. The boots I got pretty recently from Bloomingdale’s.”
Is shopping in Washington a challenge for guys?
“Absolutely. It’s hard to find stuff here that you couldn’t find anywhere else. We have Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Barney’s Co-op. But we don’t have anything you couldn’t find anywhere else. There’s Lost Boys, Farinelli’s, and a couple of boutiques on 14th Street like Caramel. There might be a piece or two at Foreign Exchange, Lettie Gooch, Rue 14, or Redeem, but those are all somewhat casual. And there’s the fact that Washington is somewhat conservative.”
So where do you shop?
“My strategy is pretty simple. I generally go to the Barneys Outlet in Leesburg once in the spring and once in the fall. And then I sort of augment that with whatever else I find around: Barneys brand, Varvatos, and Hugo Boss are the brands I generally get at Barneys. I have a lot of Ben Sherman, too. And Billy Reid is sick.”
With its hammered gold-and-silver plating, delicate classic design, and sweetly colored semiprecious gems from India, Thailand, and China, you might never guess MIJA Jewelry is the product of conservative Washington. But the eye behind this line, Michelle Guest, is based in Glover Park. After she created spur-of-the-moment bracelets for her nieces, lots of people asked where to buy the dainty single-pearl chains, and Guest decided it was time to channel her creative juices into professional jewelry making. The result—a collection of stack rings, bangles, charm necklaces, and earrings named for the designer and her sister Jani—is “youthful, refined, and delicate,” according to her fiancé. The understated and versatile add-ons work with everything from jeans to wedding gowns, and we especially love how the bangles and simple birthstone rings can be combined to create a unique look that doesn’t overwhelm.
Now in her third year selling her pieces all over the country, it’s safe to say Guest knows a thing or two about jewelry. So we turned to her for gift-giving advice this Valentine’s Day. Read on for tips on finding the perfect Valentine’s piece for your significant other and how to win a his-and-hers gift package from MIJA and Smathers & Branson, another DC accessories company.
Carolyn Purcell, 26
Fashion-design student at Parsons School of Design and design intern at John Varvatos
What she’s wearing:
A black sequin dress she designed and sewed, BCBG heels, vintage 1940s Schiffer necklace worn as a bracelet, and “a random black sweater.”
Did you make the dress for a specific event?
“I didn’t make the dress for a specific event, it was more for an event I hoped to go to. I always love sequins, but they’re not easy to sew. When you cut into the fabric, the sequins break off and they get everywhere and you can never pick them all up. I made that dress over a year ago, and I still have sequins stuck in between my floorboards and hiding in corners. They’re like a disease.”
What else do you like to make?
“My favorite thing to make is coats. I recently finished a gray wool swing coat that has a huge shoulder-width collar that I’m really excited about. I love coats because you could have pajamas or hot pants on underneath, but because you have a great coat on, you look completely put together.
Who are your favorite designers?
“My list of favorite designers changes periodically but always includes Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. When you look at their collections, you can tell that they don’t care about being on-trend or anything like that. They just make what they like, and that’s how trends are really started anyway.”
Yusef Williams, 31
Hairstylist, Factory Downtown in New York
What he’s wearing: Plaid vest from the Gap, H&M chambray shirt, American Apparel thermal tee, Levi’s skinny jeans, Adidas sneakers, Kangol hat, and Gazelle shades. “Oh, I’m all low-end today!” he said.
Tell me about your style.
“Every day is different. One day I’ll do rocker-chic, where I’m wearing all black and lots of studs and spikes, and the next day I’ll be more urban. I worked in Paris for a year and a half, and you don’t do that without being influenced. I love fashion.”
Any favorite stores?
“For more dapper clothes, Jeffrey and Seven New York. And there’s an emerging line called House of Destruction that I’m into. I have a crazy studded jacket of theirs.”
Anything you can tell us about your clients?
“I am fascinated by Penélope Cruz. She has this almost-tough, masculine sexiness to her.”
Jasmine Bell, 21
Student and assistant manager, DSW
What she’s wearing: Urban Outfitters dress, Forever 21 sweater and sunglasses, DSW boots and bag.
What do you recommend buying at DSW?
“Right now, I’d say boots, because a lot of them are on sale.”
Where else do you shop?
“Forever 21 is so affordable. You can find so many things for under $30. And I like Nordstrom Rack. I like to get InStyle magazine—there’s a list a lot of good Web sites for deals. There’s lulus.com, bluefly.com, and couponcabin.com. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the same thing will be cheaper online than it will be in stores.”
What are you looking forward to wearing come spring?
“This is really the first time I’ve done the tights and dresses thing. So that, and sandals.”
Peter Sulick, 27
What he’s wearing:
Adam Lippes suit, Polo sweater, J. Crew shirt.
Name a few things every guy should have in his closet.
“One gray suit, one blue suit, comfortable chinos and shirts, and some Levi’s.”
The fit on that suit is perfect. Do you have a tailor in town you like?
“All I had to have done to this one was hem the pants. I don’t really know much about the designer, but I saw the fabric and loved it. It’s this dark houndstooth. And I also love that the buttons at the sleeve are real. But for tailors, Cheryl A. Lofton & Associates in Shaw is a great place for basics. They’re quick, professional, and cheap. Field’s in Georgetown is one of the best suit tailors I’ve ever visited. They’re expensive but well worth it for a perfect fit.”
Where do you shop, and what are some of your favorite labels?
“American Apparel for T-shirts, Levi’s for jeans, and J. Crew for polo for shirts and sweaters. Suits are a different story. The key is finding a brand that has a cut that fits you well. Burberry and Zenga fit me perfectly off the rack, so that’s what I generally buy.”
Yan Tian, 19
Student, George Washington University
What she’s wearing:
Desigual pants, Veromoda jacket and scarf (purchased in China), and Converse sneakers.
Tell me about your look.
“I got these pants in New York. This is my first time wearing more weird stuff. I would describe my style as casual.”
Aren’t you freezing?
“Not really. I’m wearing leggings underneath the pants!”
What do you look forward to wearing come spring?
This look isn’t for everyone, but the cut of these pants gave her a certain swagger that I couldn’t help but admire.
Lauren Mackler, 27
What she’s wearing:
An H&M coat from a thrift store, a cream sweater that was a gift from her father, and brogue-style shoes from the Shoe Market in Brooklyn.
What’s your secret to looking cute in the snow and cold?
“Layers. You have to take a little extra time [in the winter]. It feels good to look cute.”
Aren’t you worried about messing up your shoes?
“I feel like that’ll only make them look better.”
What do you think of the vintage shopping around here?
“Awesome! I love it—much more affordable than in New York. I bought two hats and some jewelry.”
Where do you like to shop, generally?
“Some of my friends are designers or have stores, and I like to buy from them. There’s an amazing selection of New York designers at Sodafine; my friend Sto’s gallery/bookstore; my friend Brie’s beautiful jewelry; and my friend Shabd’s incredible tie-dye galaxy leggings.
Natalie Strasser, 24 (left), Power Tots gymnastics instructor and Glass House DC blogger.
Mundy Spears, 26, actress with Washington Shakespeare Company, dance instructor, and singer/writer for the band Youngs Modulus.
On Natalie: Diesel pants, Max Studio shirt, Dooney & Bourke vintage briefcase, Plymouth hat—all from thrift stores. Her shoes are from Nine West, and the necklace was an aunt’s find during missionary trips in Africa in the ’50s and ’60s.
On Mundy: Shirt from a vintage store in New York, jeans from Forever 21 (“I get cheap jeans so I can paint, and dye them with bleach”), a Salvation Army bowler hat, and boots from Cutesy Girl.
So you two just met earlier tonight? Was it the clothes?
Natalie: “She was standing with a mutual friend, and I think I knew we’d click immediately, because she was wearing a hat, and I could tell right away she wasn’t afraid to experiment with fashion.”
Mundy: “Yes, her fresh lid made me think she’d be an interesting and fun person.”
How would you describe your style?
Natalie: “I dress myself based on what I’m feeling and on the event that I’m attending. Art and music events rock because you can be more daring. Generally, I’d describe my style as emotional art. I’m expressing myself without words by choosing what clothing I dress myself in. I like being bold, and it’s extremely easy in DC.”
Mundy: “If David Bowie and Cyndi Lauper had a child that listened to a lot of Joy Division, that child would dress like me.”