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Washingtonian's Fashion Editor provides style notes on what pieces she regularly wears to work and where she shops for them. By Valeria Boucas

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 vboucas@washingtonian.com for a chance to have yours answered on the next What She Wore: Kate Bennett series. 

Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.

Posted at 01:45 PM/ET, 09/02/2014 | 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 ()
The local entrepreneur shares her beauty must-haves. By Diana Elbasha

Photograph by Joy Asico.

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.

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Posted at 04:30 PM/ET, 06/10/2014 | 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 Maryland-based style pro is a consultant by day, blogger by night. By Diana Elbasha
Natalie's classic, feminine aesthetic has us visiting her site regularly. Here, she wears d'orsay flats by Betsey Johnson. Photographs courtesy of Natalie Vargas.

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.

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Posted at 09:45 AM/ET, 05/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Here’s your chance to meet the stylish TV star. By Diana Elbasha

Photograph courtesy of BrandlinkDC.

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 CutroneAndy 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.

Posted at 03:10 PM/ET, 04/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus: The scoop on the celebrity guest slated to host the opening party. By Diana Elbasha
Designer Rebecca Minkoff will make an appearance at EmporiumDNA's opening party next month. Photograph by Anton Oparin / Shutterstock.com.

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.

Posted at 09:35 AM/ET, 03/27/2014 | 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 ()
The local beauty pro dishes on her new line and her all-time product faves. By Michelle Thomas

Kitiya King boasts a long list of titles. She’s a chemist. A cosmetologist. An aesthetician. A beauty blogger. And now she’s an entrepreneur. The local beauty wiz’s new “5-free” (which means the formula doesn’t contain formaldehyde, DBP, toluene, formaldehyde resin, or camphor) nail polish line launches on Friday with a collection of seven hues inspired by the glitz of Fashion Week and ranging from bold, glittery gold and bright red to more understated colors such as midnight blue and khaki. We chatted with King about Mischo Beauty and her must-have beauty products.

Photograph courtesy of Mischo Beauty.

How did Mischo Beauty come to be?

I’m a chemist and cosmetologist, and have always wanted to blend both worlds. When I was pregnant with my son, I was really careful with the products I was using and what I was eating, and actually didn’t polish my nails for the first six months of my pregnancy because of all the harmful toxins found in nail polish. I eventually started using polishes that were 5-free but found the formula didn’t go on smoothly, or they weren’t durable. After giving birth to my son, I decided it was time to mix my science and beauty backgrounds to create a 5-free nail polish that was durable while still being nontoxic.

What makes Mischo Beauty different from other lines?

Mischo Beauty is different from other lines because not only is it healthy, but it’s also functional. There aren’t many 5-free nail polish brands on the market, and the ones that are aren’t long-lasting. Mischo luxury nail lacquers are chip-resistant and won’t affect your health.

Tell us about the process and development of the line.

I created the formulas to make sure they were indeed 5-free, which was the most difficult part, and worked hard to make sure every single color in the collection was flawless. I tested the product for a year to make sure the nail polish was something I would be in love with and would use myself—and I absolutely love the result.

What’s next for Mischo Beauty?

After the launch of the Fashion Week collection for fall 2013, we will launch our Icons collection of the Mischo luxury nail lacquer in spring 2013, followed by our line of color cosmetics—lipstick, lip gloss, blush—in fall 2014.

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Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 10/30/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Local makeup artist Laura Bateman offers easy steps for the season’s most popular beauty trends. By Diana Elbasha

DC-based makeup artist Laura Bateman. Photograph via Ampersand Photography.

It goes without saying that the runway show is the ultimate trendsetter—something about a world-renowned designer claiming a look as stylish leads us to run out and snag the first version we can find (hello, harem pants).

The same is true for the makeup looks they have their models sport down the runway. Seasons past have brought such prevalent trends as sleek, center-parted hair, neon lips, and bold brows—and this year is no exception to the bold beauty trend game. We asked local makeup artist Laura Bateman for her insight into fall and winter’s most popular makeup looks—as shown on runways from Alice & Olivia to Burberry—and how to achieve them on your own.

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Posted at 04:56 PM/ET, 10/23/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()