What: Urban Chic may have gone virtual, but thank goodness it knows there’s nothing like a real-life celebration. The upscale boutique threw an intimate soirée in honor of Living Chic, its new blog, last Wednesday. We saw Tracy—the peppy blonde behind the online scoop—and an enthusiastic Stacy London, host of TLC’s What Not to Wear and the Today Show fashion correspondent, mingling with the trend-conscious crowd.
Attire: Dressed to impress. The mostly female crowd donned modern ruffles, high-waisted skirts, summer cocktail dresses, and multiple variations of gladiator sandals—proof that Washington wears more than suits.
Food and drink: Such sweets as chocolate-covered strawberries, logo-encrusted cookies, M&M’s, and jelly beans were sprinkled among the merchandise. Our favorite treat? The sprinkle-covered cupcake lollipops. Who knew cake could complement Champagne so nicely?
Party favors: Gifts were on hand for anyone who made a purchase. Highlights included a weeklong guest pass and a guided workout at Equinox gym in Tysons, a Milly charm necklace, advance movie-screening tickets to Julie & Julia, Rebecca Taylor lip gloss, and a collection of travel-size Luxe city guides.
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We caught up with the guest of honor as she worked her way through the crowd, doling out compliments and personalized fashion advice and delivering each quip with her signature New York sass. Read on for Stacy’s take on best bets for fall, a Michelle Obama fashion faux pas, and more, including our very own What Not to Wear once over.
We’ll admit it—London is a personal hero, so we were dying to hear what she thought of our carefully chosen ensemble (a jewel-toned teal blouse on top tucked into high-waisted, wide-leg tan trousers, paired with nude wedge heels). Here’s what she had to say: “Love the turquoise, glad you anchored it in a neutral. It’s good that you’ve tucked the shirt in. If you were to take it out, you’d lose the waistline and look like a rectangle. And there’s a thick enough waistband on the pants that we’re getting a very defined waistline. You always want to at least aim for an hourglass shape—that’s what the cut of your clothes is supposed to do if it’s going to be the most flattering for your body. If you’re petite, you want to get the longest line in the leg possible, so it’s good to have your waist up high.”
Whew! We were worried the volume of the pants might be a little much for a five-foot-two-inch frame. “Well, you do need a hem. And those pockets, I’ve got to be honest with you: They stick out right now. What I’d do is sew them up and cut out the lining.”
That’s fair. We hear that high-waisted pants are supposed to be a big trend for fall. What’s a good way to dress around it? “Keep what you’re doing on top relatively close to the body, even if it’s a placket or a ruffle. I love the idea of a little white blouse and a tweed jacket going into fall, but it should really hit high. Something that’s shorter, almost like a shrunken jacket, but still has buttons like a blazer.”
Obama fever is sweeping DC. Any thoughts on the First Lady’s fashion sense? “I want her to call me. She’s one of my idols—I adore her—but I think she’s being led astray a little bit in fashion. The belts are too high, and the necklaces with every dress are ruining the neckline of the dress and her neck. Sometimes she gets dowdy, and a lot of that has to do with tailoring. Michelle has a very athletic body, and she’s super tall, so it’s not easy to fit her in off-the-rack clothing. She needs a personal tailor who knows her body. “
What would change if you took control of her wardrobe? “I’d stay away from argyle—I don’t think she needs it. I love the fact that she can do color so well, and I love the fact that she shows her arms, so I think sheath dresses are amazing for her. It’s not really that I’d change what she’s doing—I’d tweak it.”
Washington is notorious for fully packed schedules which allow little time for outfit changes. What’s a versatile item that should be in everyone’s closet? “People think you can’t be taken seriously if you have style, so there’s a tendency to go androgynous. But I think women can look incredibly fashionable in a suit if they’re getting a great cut, using modern accessories, and changing up the underpinnings. It’s the first thing you should invest in because suits connote authority. The very idea of being able to wear one well really does say ‘Take me seriously.’ Working in a law firm, it’s a difficult line to walk between stylish and conservative-corporate, but it comes down to color choices and fit. Clothes need to be tailored really well in order to have that more expensive look to them.”
Other suggestions for upping the sophistication factor? “Look for details, even on simple pieces, that add a different visual element. This (motions to her Doo.Ri sheath) could just be a khaki sundress, but you turn it around, see the pleating, and it becomes something that’s a little more interesting.”
What’s to be avoided as a young professional? “You’ve got to stay away from the juniors department. That’s number one. I find women do that because juniors clothing is more inexpensive yet still trendy, and they can’t find the same looks elsewhere at that price point. Girls, you gotta look harder.”
Believe it or not, there’s a few aspiring fashionistas in the Washington mix of politicians, lobbyists, and lawyers . How did you get your start? “It looks like they’re all here tonight! Well, I knew that I wanted to work in fashion from a very young age, but I also knew that I didn’t want to be a designer. So I went to a liberal-arts college [Vassar], and I majored in philosophy and German literature. I thought it was very important to learn how to think. If you can be critically reasonable, then anything is possible. But I certainly didn’t think that at 18, what I did in those next four years was going to determine my destiny.” So what happened next? “During the summers I did internships. I went to work at Christian Dior in Paris—totally by luck—in the PR department. It was Geanfranco Ferre’s first couture collection for the house. There was a lot of hullabaloo, and magazine editors calling the office saying, ‘We want look 40! We want look 31!’ because they were going to shoot it, and I thought ‘Ooh, that’s what I want to do. I want to be on the other side of the fence!’ So I got a taste of it at 20, and when I graduated, having worked at Christian Dior and several other magazines as an intern, Vogue hired me right out of the gate. Total luck.”
And now you’re a fully entrenched professional. What has working in the fashion industry taught you about personal style? “I tweet! [@stacylondonsays]. I find inexpensive fashion—nobody wants to spend a fortune on their clothing. I love looking at what Nicolas Ghesquière did for Balenciaga, but it has nothing to do with me. I’m not going to spend $9,000 on a dress. So I make a real distinction between the fashion industry and style. The fashion industry is based on and builds insecurity in women, makes us chase trends to feel like we’re ‘in,’ and it’s built for body types that are genetic anomalies. And I get that. It’s a great industry, I love the fantasy, I love the aspiration, but style starts with you. Style is about what makes you happy, about what makes you look in the mirror and think, ‘I rocked this outfit today.’ I want women to look at themselves and be happy. And there’s no frame of reference for that. You are your only frame of reference.”
Stacy, you’re absolutely fabulous. Any last pearls of wisdom you’d care to impart? “I’ve got be honest, Urban Outfitters is my secret weapon. They’re doing all of those small collections with young, really up-and-coming edgy designers, and they’re putting a lot more thought into what they’re making. And Ann Taylor. Everyone should listen to this one. They’ve brought in a whole new design team, and starting in August, everything is going to be so chic for fall—animal prints and tweed skirts. Really! They’re not paying me.”