Athletes often have particular pre-game rituals, but a booty-shaking dance on the fashion catwalk isn’t one we’ve seen before. On Thursday night, Redskins nose tackle and defensive end Chris Baker participated with several other professional sports stars in Walk this Way, a charity fashion show at the Italian Embassy presented by anti-domestic violence nonprofit Becky’s Fund.
Dressed head to toe in Gant, a sportswear label with an Americana twist and a store on M Street in Georgetown, Baker got the crowd going with his moves, soaking up the attention and showcasing his robust physique. While the rest of the celebrity athletes—including fellow Redskins Pierre Garçon, Kai Forbath, and Andre Roberts; DC United’s Chris Pontius and Bill Hamid; and a handful of area champs like boxer Jimmy Lange, Olympic rower Giuseppe Lanzone, and Olympic swimmer Kate Ziegler—did their strut-and-pose, the title of “supermodel” goes to Baker. Maybe he was still celebrating last week’s win over the Cowboys? Either way, look out Vikings—Baker’s dancing his way to town on Sunday.
As fall settles in, it’s evident that Washington’s new sense of style has begun to change even the established uniforms of male power and privilege. Here's how to read the plumage.
The Hill Honcho
Michael Steel, 37, spokesman for House speaker John Boehner
Inspiration: Sean Connery in From Russia with Love.
On Capitol Hill, a suit telegraphs competence, conformity, and a higher purpose amid the chaos of lawmaking. Cost isn’t often spared, but a staffer’s attire shouldn’t shout its price tag. “The most important thing is to respect the institution and the people we serve,” says Steel.
1. Brooks Brothers suit, in gray or navy, with white or blue shirt.
2. Hermès tie. Rank and party are often expressed in choice of neckwear—color, material, brand, even the knot. Steel wears his in a simple four-in-hand.
3. “At work, I wear a nice watch my wife gave me for our wedding. On weekends, I wear a Timex from a Walmart in Janesville, Wisconsin, on a grosgrain band.”
4. Cuff links are a personal indulgence. These are engraved with an image of the Capitol, from Tiny Jewel Box on Connecticut Avenue.
5. Negotiating the miles of halls in the Capitol or hoofing it after the speaker from meeting to House floor to smoking break argues for a sensible oxford: “Every year or so, I get a good pair of dress shoes from Sky Valet Shoes on Wisconsin Avenue—black with gray suits, brown or cordovan with navy.”
Brandon Weight, 22, assistant events coordinator, Brightest Young Things, a web magazine and marketing company
Inspiration: “Any rapper with true street style is incredible.”
1. Creating an event in a retired embassy or throwing a dinner for a crowd is hell on clothes. “I tear things up and always have gaffer’s-tape residue on my clothes,” Weight says. “I wear H&M suits—it’s cheaper. This jacket I’ve had for a year, but I’ve already gone through two or three of the pants.”
“I’m young, so it helps to be present-able. When I came from California to Northern Virginia. I had super-long hair, highlights, I shopped at PacSun. It was really bad.”
2. How to know you’re a hipster? “I mean, I’m wearing an $8 camo shirt from Urban Outfitters.”
“I usually get off work and go to J. Crew. That whole strip [of M Street] is great—H&M, American Apparel, Urban Outfitters.”
Christopher "Gindy" Gindlesperger, 33, senior director of public affairs, American Beverage Association
Inspiration: “This is going to sound polarizing, but Kanye West is a huge influence for me.”
1. Gindy’s slick wool houndstooth communicates access and the discipline to stay on message. Like many of his suits, it’s custom, from Suitsupply: “My boy Will there helps me out. He’s amazing.”
2. Thomas Pink for shirts, or Charles Tyrwhitt, English cut. “I like a two-button barrel cuff.”
3. A pocket square is the discreet fun zone, with room for polka dots or Liberty prints or a hot color.
Lobbying has been liberated from its traditional mufti of yellow ties and pinstripes. Debonair is the new brash. “I look at fashion in Washington like people look at work: Once upon a time, work was a place you went. Now it’s something you do.”
“If you’re professional, you know what you’re talking about, and you look great. That’s the recipe.”
4. “The shoes are Ferragamo. No socks.”
Aderson B. Francois, 47, associate professor, Howard University School of Law
Inspiration: “My father would always find an excuse to wear a suit. As I got older, I got used to the idea of dressing a certain way, almost like putting on a uniform.”
“There is no dress code at Howard or any other law school—in fact, most professors tend to dress extraordinarily casual. Some don’t even bother wearing a blazer, much less a suit. Some even wear jeans. I just prefer not to do that.”
1. Gant Rugger blazer.
Perhaps nowhere is dressing to impress as important as in the classroom. “Teaching is like a performance,” Francois says. “If you don’t have a certain measure of confidence, students can detect it.”
2. Buddhist prayer-bead bracelet.
Academics avoid trends in favor of eternal truths. “I shop at Billy Reid, Gant, sometimes Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus. I buy very few things but wear them for a long time—so much that they’ve literally fallen apart. But I’d still be sad if I lost them.”
His look defines a precise line between youthful panache and crisp authority. “I tend to wear Dunhill or Gian-franco Ferre, but I like a slimmer cut and al-most always end up having it tailored.”
3. “The shoes? They’re Lidfort. I got them a few years back at Barneys, I think.”
This article appears in the November 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
Here at Shop Around, we aim to keep readers in-the-know about the latest fashion trends, great new brands, store openings, and general about-town happenings so you can be the first to score a great staple piece on sale. But there's one thing our readers don't get to see—what items our very own fashion editors wear to the office and where we shop for them.
Thanks to reader demand, we tapped Washingtonian's fashion editor, Kate Bennett (and Editor-in-Chief of Washingtonian MOM and Washingtonian Bride & Groom) for a glimpse at some of her prized wardrobe possessions in our first monthly installment of What She Wore: Kate Bennett. From airy dresses to knee-length jean skirts, Kate, who is also mom to 9-year-old daughter Tess, can rock just about any look, inspiring us all to take fashion risks. We sat down with her to find out exactly how she pulls it off, starting with, what she wore to work the day of Washingtonian's sample sale.
Kate Bennett at Longview Gallery, the site of Washingtonian's sample sale, held earlier this month. Photographs by Andrew Propp.
"I bought this House of Harlow ring at the sample sale. I picked it up at the Wink boutique booth, which was one of our participating vendors. It's one of my favorite local stores and the owner, Paige Speyer, is celebrating TEN YEARS of Wink with all kinds of fab trunk shows this fall—insider tip!"
"My shoes are Zara, and I can't even tell you how many people stop me on the street to tell me they like them. And when I mention they cost $99, they go nuts! I'm also a pedicure person, and I think OPI's 'I've Got the Blues for Red' is the sexiest, deep crimson. It's my signature toe shade, which sounds so high maintenace, but it's true. In this picture, I'm also wearing boyfriend jeans from Benetton. I tend to stick to a general rule about jeans: I refuse to pay more than $100 for a pair. ($300 for denim? Stop the madness!) So I hunt around for great washes and fits from all kinds of places—I love Benetton, American Eagle makes great styles too, and Massimo Dutti has a dark wash that I like a lot. Zara too, and Gap . . . you name it, all great jeans. If it's in the $60-80 sweet-spot, I will buy them. Fun fact: I have more than 45 pairs of jeans."
"This is my all-time favorite jacket. It's Alice + Olivia and is one of my wardrobe staples. I wear it with everything from shorts to strapless dresses. I also collect little necklaces, especially ones that have a T on them—my daughter's name is Tess. I tend to wear my 'Love' necklace every day. I got it from Dalton Pratt, which sadly, just closed last week. The other two I think I picked up at Lou Lou."
Want to ask Kate Bennett a question? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to have yours answered on the next What She Wore: Kate Bennett series.
Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.
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.
When she’s not at her day job as a financial executive for Marriott, beauty guru Maha Sharma can be spotted holding down the fort at DC’s newest blow-dry salon, Blo. We met Sharma when she opened her new spot
dangerously conveniently close to Shop Around's downtown HQ back in March, alongside celebrity guest Whitney Port, and we immediately took notice of her polished look: spring-appropriate pink pout, clear, glowing skin, and, of course, silky-smooth waves. Naturally, we took the first opportunity to ask for her beauty tips. Read on to see the five items this pro always has in her makeup bag.
1) Unite 7Second Refresher
“It is the perfect pick-me-up after the gym. Lightweight and refreshing, it helps keep your blowouts looking red-carpet-ready. Best of all, it doesn’t leave behind the chalky, powdery residue that a lot of other dry shampoos on the market tend to.” $24 at Drugstore.com.
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 style—including our own fashion editor, Kate Glassman Bennett—to 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.
As saturated as Washington’s blogosphere can often seem, every once in a while, we come across a gem that completely impresses us. The latest on that list: Catalina Creative. Authored by 24-year-old Maryland native Natalie Vargas, what began as a side project (previously known as Doses of Design) to express her love for interiors has rapidly blossomed into a multifaceted lifestyle resource. In just about a year, Vargas has amassed close to 2,000 Twitter followers, her own print shop, a fashion-packed style guide, and, of course, blog posts full of sartorial and interior inspiration with a refreshingly minimalist yet elegant vibe. We chatted with the talented blogger to hear more about how her brand was born and where she gets her inspiration.
Take us through the evolution of your blog. How did it get to where it is today?
It began as a home decor blog. I don’t think it was until late fall that I posted my first style post on a “beach chic” look. That day, I received so many comments and likes on my little blog, and I was ecstatic. From then on, I made it a point to write about more than home design. I joined Bloglovin’, created a Facebook page and a Google Plus page, tweaked my social media, and began seeking out and following lots of bloggers. Social media is your best friend in the blogosphere! This past January, I decided on a rebrand and a fresh start for a new year. My name no longer applied to what I was posting about, and I wanted to step things up, so Catalina Creative was born.
How would you describe your personal style—and what’s your favorite item in your closet?
As written in my Stylish Finds guide, “my style involves lots of neutrals, a casually chic look . . . pretty patterns and feminine lines.” I’m a fan of casual cool. I love to dress up when the occasion calls for it, but everyday life is spent in skinnies, chic flats, and a tee, silk top, or oversize sweater. In the office, I love fitted pants, heels, and a printed top for flair. Favorite item? I’m not sure I can choose just one! I finally bought my first Gigi New York clutch this year, in gray, with my initials in gold. I can’t get enough of that one. I’m also a big fan of my black skinnies and leopard pumps.
Bethesda Row’s annual fashion event, The Front Row, never fails to impress with its star-studded lineup of guests. Last year, actress Jessica Alba sat front and center at its signature runway show alongside the Drybar’s Alli Webb, Georgetown Cupcakes’ Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne, and Bluemercury’s Marla Malcom Beck. Years past have seen Kelly Cutrone, Andy Cohen, and Christian Siriano. And this year’s event, scheduled for June 12 through 14, will feature actress and red-carpet stunner Maria Menounos.
Making headlines recently for her just-released book, The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet & Fitness, the Extra host and reality television star will greet guests and sign books in front of Redwood Restaurant and Bar at 5 on June 13, just before the runway show takes over Bethesda Lane to display the fashions of the town’s trendiest boutiques. More than 35 other style-packed events, such as an exclusive premiere of the fashion documentary Versailles 73 (with director Deborah Riley Draper in attendance), are scheduled during the three-day event. Details are gradually being released online, so be sure to check back.
VIP tickets, which earn you a seat at the runway show (standing room is first come, first served) and access to a private party at Redwood, are extremely limited and go on sale the week of May 26 via Gilt City.
Good news if you work in downtown DC: Alice & Olivia, Equipment, Rag & Bone, and more buzzy contemporary labels are about to become part of your lunchtime shopping routine. Originally scheduled for an early March opening, Dupont’s newest boutique, Emporium DNA, opens at 11 today at 1666 Connecticut Avenue, Northwest, the former home of United Colors of Benetton.
The selection of brands represented at the new boutique—ranging from Adidas to Clover Canyon, for women and men—makes Emporium the first retailer of its kind in the downtown area. The boutique is set up in a store-within-a-store fashion and boasts an extensive shoe “gallery”; check out the website for the full list of designers sold.
You’ll definitely want to mark your calendar for the store’s opening party: We got an exclusive tip that designer Rebecca Minkoff (whose girly handbags will also line Emporium’s shelves) and brother/CEO Uri Minkoff will make an appearance at the celebration, schedule to take place in-store next month. The date hasn’t yet been announced; we’ll update once we receive that information.
Emporium DNA. 1666 Connecticut Ave., NW. Open 10 to 9 Monday through Saturday and 11 to 7 on Sunday.
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.