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Bonus: They’re all under $130. By Caroline Cunningham
Photograph by Shutterstock/Lucky Business.

Once you’ve picked the restaurant and bought him a gift, it’s time to find perfect Valentine’s Day date dress. Something pretty, but not overly formal, festive, but not cheesy—it’s a fine line to walk on this pseudo-holiday. But you’ll walk it with poise--even in heels--in one of these flirty frocks. And just because we love you, they’re all under $130.

The gold zipper on this simple rose pink dress adds just a bit of flair to the simple cut. Dress with zip at the front ($79.90) at Zara.

Fans of Emma Stone’s sheer tuxedo dress at the SAG Awards will love this simple but sexy V-neck maxi dress ($49.95) at H&M.

Wear the color of the day in this red sheath dress. It’s a little conservative, but with the right statement necklace and heels, it’s perfect for a classy Washington date night. Scalloped trim dress ($98) at J.Crew Factory.

Heat things up a bit with this shimmery LBD. Whether you’re hoping to impress your longtime beau or looking to snag the eyes of a cutie at a singles event, this dress will keep the attention on you. Sequined dress ($69.95) at H&M.

The color is hot, and the pleats across the middle do double-duty as tummy coverage so you can go ahead and indulge in that chocolate mousse. Sassy to See Dress ($54.99) at ModCloth.

We’re melting over the simplicity of this pale crepe dress, and so will your date. The bow in the back makes for a cute, date-ready detail. Bow back crepe shift dress ($125) at Topshop.

The elegant black piping on this dress makes it a winner for any date night, and the bright color, easy fit, and long sleeves put it on the top our list for a chilly February 14 night out on the town. Crepe dress with piping ($79.90) at Zara.

Posted at 02:10 PM/ET, 02/12/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Cvent senior account manager Liz Owens tells us how she shops for a romantic dinner out. Plus—outfits for other evening occasions. By Kate Bennett

Liz Owens. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

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)

Posted at 11:50 AM/ET, 02/10/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Trade in your football jersey for something a little more flattering. By Caroline Cunningham

Come Sunday, there will be beer bellies aplenty filling out oversize Seahawks and Patriots jerseys. If you’re headed to a Super Bowl party or are just planning to claim a spot at a bar with good food and drink deals, there’s no need for you to join the masses who insist on wearing hideous fan gear. (We’re looking at you, Redskins sweater.)

Instead, here are two ensembles for those who are ready to retire their Uggs and jersey-as-a-tunic uniform for something slightly more fashion-forward that still shows team spirit.

Patriot Party

Demonstrate your devotion with the team colors in the Heartbreaker Bib ($58 at BaubleBar), a clean-cut ribbed jumper ($70 at Topshop), heavyweight ponte seam leggings ($30 at Topshop), and Valentino Rockstud ballerina flats ($754 at Nordstrom). Finish things off with a bright lip—try NARS Red Square velvet matte lip pencil ($25 at Bluemercury).

Seahawk Soiree

Play up the sporty look with these Dolce Vita Oriel leather sneakers ($80 at Dolce Vita), Moto Dusk Joni jeans ($65 at Topshop), and a silk safari shirt ($69 at Joe Fresh), and add pops of Seahawk green through statement necklaces, such as the House of Harlow malachite station necklace ($75.50 at South Moon Under) or the House of Harlow azure mosaic tile necklace ($168.50 at South Moon Under). Alternatively, let your nails do the cheering with Dolce & Gabbana nail lacquer in Wild Green ($25 at Sephora).

(And if all else fails, just walk in carrying a Starbucks cup—it's Seattle-based with green accents, after all.)

Posted at 08:30 AM/ET, 01/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
From a hotel gala to cocktails with your girls, we've got your looks covered. By Caroline Cunningham

Anything goes on New Year's Eve, but no matter where you’re going, you’ll want to dress the part. Whether you’re knocking back cocktails with your girlfriends, headed to a chic get-together, or hitting the town at a hot New Year’s gala, you’ll be dressed for success in any one of these looks.

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Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 12/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Dress to impress, no matter your plans on December 31. By Kay Wicker

You’ve finally decided on your New Year’s Eve plans—now, what to wear? Whether you’re spending the last night of 2014 bar-hopping with your boys, sipping wine with your main squeeze, or impressing your boss at a black-tie event, we’ve got you covered on attire with expert suggestions from menswear brand Ledbury’s retail manager Audie McDougall.

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Posted at 08:30 AM/ET, 12/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Left your costuming to the last possible minute? Local costume designer Ivania Stack spills her secrets for transforming yourself on the fly. By Kay Wicker
Two of Ivania Stack's expert tips for last-minute costuming. Top: Modcloth Put on a Show Sunglasses ($14.99) and ModCloth Right Black Cat Ya Headband ($12.99); Bottom: Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kôhl Liner ($20) and Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow ($21).

Thinking about skipping out on dressing up for Halloween this year? Maybe you don't think you'll have enough time, or perhaps you don't feel like putting a lot of money—or, let's be honest, effort—into your costume. But don’t concede to spending next Friday couch-surfing with the candy stash just yet. We asked local costume designer Ivania Stack—who’s designed wardrobe for productions at Woolly Mammoth, Studio Theatre, and MetroStage, among others—to spill her secrets for last-minute costuming. Read on for her tips.

1) Remain neutral. "Whenever we have an actor or actress who's playing a lot of different characters we'll typically dress them in neutral colors," says Stack. This one’s easy for everyone. Who doesn’t have a host of neutrals stashed in their wardrobe? Hues like cream or gray can easily be the base of a whole variety of looks, and they transition easily from workwear during the day to costume come evening. Try this: Pair a gray suit with a trench coat and a hat to turn yourself into Inspector Gadget. Or don all black, and you can be a mime, a beatnik, or—with the addition of ears and a tail—the ever-popular black cat.

2) Always accessorize. "Accessories are the easiest to work with," Stack says. The difference between nailing a costume and not quite pulling it off is sometimes as easy as having the right accessories and props. And you probably already own pieces that can work as a costume. Got a few strings of pearls and big sunnies? You’re Holly Golightly. Fedora and a red carnation? A 1920s gangster. Take those same sunglasses and add a fur coat, and you can be a movie star (or Rachel Zoe).

3) Focus on the face. Stack suggests focusing on hair and makeup first, especially if you’re short on time, because that’s what people will see first. Halloween is one of the only nights during which you can get away with over-the-top looks that would be too extreme on a regular night, so don’t be shy. Try easy tricks like smudging a red eyeshadow under the eye for instant creepiness. If you’re working a historic character, go for period makeup such as a 1960s cat eye, ’80s-style hot pink lipstick, or a ’20s-inspired pin curl. And don’t forget about the power of eyeliner—it can be used to add a mustache or animal features in a pinch.

4) Think power in numbers. Don’t forget about your friends! "Group costumes can be some of the best costumes," says Stack. Sometimes dressing as an iconic character last-minute can be too difficult to pull off well. But when you amplify an idea with a friend or two, the look stands a better chance of translating. Here’s an easy (and local!) idea: Put a few friends in power suits. Instant Scandal.

5) Explore your resources. Your closet isn’t the only place to find inspiration for costuming. If doubts over skillfully painting on the perfect cat eye are what’s standing between you and your inner Amy Winehouse, YouTube has your back. Try checking your favorite thrift store for costume potential. Urban Outfitters often stocks some seasonal silly specialty pieces. And, of course, there’s always Google. Do your research to see how others have pulled off a costume idea, then replicate as needed.

Posted at 10:59 AM/ET, 10/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Spice up your wardrobe with these autumnal ensembles. By Kay Wicker

It's become a seasonal rite of passage: Everyone becomes obsessed with pumpkin this, pumpkin that. And yet, we're still pondering our new-season wardrobe. The solution? Combine the two by working some harvest-inspired hues into your look. Here are three ways to do it—plus some spicy scents and autumnal lipstick to offset the clothes perfectly.


The Power Look

Bring all the warmth of the seasonal favorite to your professional wardrobe by pairing sophisticated neutrals with cranberry accents.

Jumpsuit ($99.90) and beige lambskin studio coat ($399), at Zara; Yves Saint Laurent Opium, $60 at Sephora; Berry Good Harvest necklace in autumn, $24.99 at ModCloth; Vince pointed toe D’Orsay flats, $295 at Bloomingdale's.


Boho Chic

Sweeten up your weekend outfits with relaxed, effortless pieces and a flirty boho vibe.

Dinner Date dress, $88 at Free People, $88; Hassick bootie, $90 at Aldo; Lexie beaded necklace, $12.90 at Alloy; Ecote tool barrel bag, $59 at Urban Outfitters; Philosophy Fresh Cream shampoo, shower, and bath gel, $17 at Ulta.


Sweetly Spicy

Looking to really spice things up? Instead of going with the standard black and tight for evening, try something lighter and less structured combined with a dash of edgy sparkle.

Nude slip dress, $79.90 at Zara; Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Fig, $20, at Sephora; cognac leather bomber jacket, $59.95 at H&M; Via Spiga Darby wedge, $195 at Aldo; Ariana Rock-Crystal hard clutch, $228 at BCBGMAXAZRIA; Elizabeth Cole Aeryn earrings, $73 at Shopbop.

Posted at 02:31 PM/ET, 10/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
We turn to Scandal, House of Cards, and The Americans for inspiration. By Kate Bennett
Photograph of Kerry Washington by Craig Sjodin/Getty Images; Russell by Zelig Shaul/NewsCom; Wright courtesy of Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix.

Thanks to Olivia Pope, Elizabeth Jennings, and Claire Underwood, Washington's style revolution has been televised. Here's our interpretation of their power looks.

Scandal

Tackling the dirty secrets of Washington's power elite apparently requires an arsenal of pantsuits. For Olivia Pope, Kerry Washington's character on the ABC series Scandal, subtle hues work best, from camel and gray to light pastels. The Silhouttes are strong, but Pope's silk blouses, towering pumps, and designer handbags say she's still a lady, albeit one who can take care of business.

Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

1. Plum Perfect: Ellie Tahari silk blouse ($268) and Boss by Hugo Boss blazer ($595) and suit pants ($245), all at Bloomingdale's.

2. Pretty Pout: Tory Burch lipstick in "Call Me," $32 at Sephora

3. Braced for Success: Trina Turk enamel bracelets, $98 each at Sassanova (Bethesda)

4. Fine Wine: "Carola" pump by Via Spiga, $225 at Bloomingdale's (Chevy Chase).

5. Get a Bead On: Gold necklace by Asha, $395 at Sassanova.

The Americans

The 1980s were a dicey sartorial decade, but our retro romance with Keri Russell's KGB agent, Elizabeth Jennings, on FX's The Americans is owed in large part to her way with jewel-tone separates, bow-tied blouses, leather boots, and cropped jackets. Fans can relive the best parts of the era—gold hoop earrings, textured knee-length skirts, floppy felt heats. Just skip the shoulder pads.

Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

1. Top It Off: Helene Berman felt hat in Brodeaux, $138 at Bloomingdale's (Chevy Chase).

2. American Beauties: Diane von Furstenberg optic-plaid blouse ($275) and 7 for All Mankind black skirt ($198), both at Bloomingdale's.

3. Kick Start: "Rigby" leather bootie by Joie, $375 at Bloomingdale's.

4. Hoop Dreams: Ralph Lauren gold hoop earrings, $44 at Bloomingdale's.

5. Arm Candy: Tortoise bangle bracelets, $36 each at Sassanova.

House of Cards

Like everything else Claire Underwood does as a scheming spouse on Netflix's House of Cards, her wardrobe is an exercise in calculation. Precisely tailored dresses? Check. Severe yet smart black-white-and-grey palette? Check. A hint of sex appeal, but nothing vulgar? Absolutely. Add in Robin Wright's pixie haircut and Claire is a stylish femme fatale we devilishly admire.

Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

1. Best Dressed: Altuzarra sheath dress with cobalt insert, $1,725 at Relish (Georgetown).

2. Tiny Baubles: Grade Positano clip-on pearl-and-labradorite earrings, $165 at Sassanova.

3. Spec-tacular: Warby Parker "Winston" eyeglass frames in black, $95 at warbyparker.com.

4. No Time to Waste: Daniel Wellington watch with black leather band, $199 at Bloomingdale's.

5. Go Toe-to-Toe: Salvatore Ferragamo "Nina" metal-capped spectator heel, $695 at Bloomingdale's.

More style inspiration:

Photographs by Jeff Elkins.

1. Time Will Tell: Movado "concerto" watch with diamonds and mother-of-pearl dial, $2,495 at Fink's Jewelers (Dulles Town Center).

2. Haute Tote: "Saffiano" handbag, $2,950 at Prada boutique (Tysons Calleria).

3. Shady Lady: Burberry sunglasses, $260 at Sunglass Hut.

4. Get the Boot: Gucci horse-bit ankle boot, $1,195 at Saks Fifth Avenue (Chevy Chase).

5. Missing Links: Ralph Lauren necklace, $198 at Bloomingdale's.


This article appears in the October 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

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Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 10/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The DC-based blogger focuses on eco-friendly and sustainable clothing. By Diana Elbasha
Above, Mlinarchik wears a consigned coat and sweater and a 100 percent vegan messenger bag by Angela + Roi. Photographs via My Fair Vanity.

Short of ditching fur and leather, it may seem like there’s not much you can do fashion-wise when it comes to helping the environment. In honor of Earth Day, we’re here to tell you that’s not true—as proven by stylish local blogger Rachel Mlinarchik.

With her DC-based fashion blog, My Fair Vanity, Mlinarchik puts a refreshing spin on a medium that can often feel tedious. Her relatively minimalist, classic style, with occasional pops of pattern and edge from brands such as Clover Canyon and Alexander Wang, perfectly fits the DC vibe—and nearly every accessory, shoe, and piece of clothing featured is fair-trade, organic, handmade, USA-made, upcycled, secondhand, or vegan. Mlinarchik speaks frankly about her passion for sustainability and human rights on MFV. “All unfair or unjust parts of my posted outfits remain anonymous, so we won’t be tempted by their siren call,” she writes on the blog, in an admirable display of commitment to the cause. “I’ve been doing this for a year now, and it is much easier than I thought it would be. I very rarely purchase something that is outside of the ethics of this blog, nowadays.”

Scroll down for some of our favorite looks Mlinarchik has put together.

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Posted at 12:56 PM/ET, 04/22/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Perfect transitional pieces for this back-and-forth weather. By Diana Elbasha
Play with new patterns, shapes, and colors when choosing a coat this spring.

The belted, double-breasted trench is one of those pieces whose classic lines ensure it shows up on shelves year after year. Already have the basic version? Countless brands are experimenting with chic new riffs on the style—edgier silhouettes, unconventional colors, even daring new textures. Click through the slideshow for 17 patterned, ruffled, colored, and otherwise tweaked trenches perfect for the winter-to-spring transition.

Posted at 02:31 PM/ET, 04/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()