Washington is very comfortable with its neutrals. Whether it be black, white, cream, taupe, or grey, conservative DC dwellers love to stick to the basics. That’s why when we saw the fashion and lifestyle blog of McKenna Bleu, we flipped for her use of bold, bright colors.
They’re on your Instagram feed, they’re lining the sidewalks before every store grand opening, they’re snapping photos in every brick-lined alley in town—they’re the fashion and lifestyle bloggers of DC.
There are hundreds of them in the area, and last night, they packed the back room of the Gryphon for the next in the series of Blogger Scene events, which was launched by The Fashionably Broke sisters Erika and Natalie Pinto and Ashley Lettich of AshleyInDC in the summer of 2013. These events are part cocktail party, part seminar, what the trio has labeled “parties with a purpose.”
After mixing and mingling for an hour, the organizers corralled the bloggers for a 30-minute panel discussion by some of the area’s top bloggers: Julien Garman of It’s Julien, Alicia Tenise of Alicia Tenise, Cheralee Lyle of Miss Lyle Style, and Alison Coglianese of Ally Cog. If you’re among the many hoping to achieve blog domination—or even, as one blogger joked at the event, “hoping to break 10K” in Instagram followers—then read on for the panel’s best advice.
- Stop waiting for brands to come to you. According to Coglianese, you can’t just wait for Free People to ring you up, looking for a collaboration because of your super-chic blog. Recommendations for alternative methods included pitching a lookbook concept, proposing an Instagram takeover, and keeping an eye out for how other bloggers are collaborating with the brands they wanted to score with.
- Get some legal help. Tenise told the crowd that she had hired a lawyer to draft a contract so she could make sure that any brand she agrees to so much as Tweet about holds up their end of the deal.
- Track your progress. Want brands to take you seriously? Show numbers—more than followers, they want to see conversions, says Stephanie David, founder of the PopNod shopping app. Lyle recommends Iconosquare, which provides metrics for tracking your Instagram efficiency.
- Have a personality. When asked about how to create “clickable content,” the responses were unanimous: Be personable. That perfectly filtered shot of your flaky croissant and creamy latte at that amazing hole-in-the-wall cafe that you love? Go for it—you do you, blogger.
- Above all, love your competition. “Everybody hug the person on your left,” said Natalie Pinto. “That was a joke—but you can if you want to.” Though Tenise had recently collaborated with Ann Taylor—a big score for a blogger—her fellow panelists admitted while they were jealous, ultimately they were happy for her.
“There’s a coolness to being fashionably late, so we were like, be fashionably broke in that effortless, I-don’t-care, I-just-am spirit,” says Natalie Pinto, 27, of the theory behind the Fashionably Broke, a blog she writes with her sister, Erika, 24. “It means buy whatever—the $500 Alexander Wang jacket or the $12 T.J. Maxx T-shirt. You might not be able to buy groceries that week, but at least you’re fashionably broke.”
The sisters do love a deal—whether at discounters T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, chic budget chains such as Zara and Forever 21, or at Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale. “I love the Topshop section at Nordstrom,” Natalie says. “It makes on-trend bargain shopping so much easier."
The duo—whose blog is nearly four years old—has 9,000-plus Instagram followers, who peek in to see what Natalie (whose day job is social-media marketing) and Erika (who handles sales for a start-up and is earning her master’s in special education) are wearing, coveting, and finding.
The sisters, who live in Virginia—Natalie in Falls Church, Erika in Arlington—cite the Olsen twins as inspiration. “That dumpster-chic look—so good,” says Natalie. “We mix high and low. Fashion is all of that. It’s whatever you love.”
What Natalie Is Wearing: Ted Baker blazer, $89, and Herve Leger T-shirt, $55, found at Current Boutique; Topshop wet-look leggings, $40 at Nordstrom; Via Spiga “Corene” boots, $173 from Nordstrom; faux-crocodile bag, $42 from South Moon Under.
What Erika Is Wearing: Chelsea28 sweater, $60 from Nordstrom; faux-leather skirt, $25 from Forever 21; Steve Madden booties, $80 from Nordstrom Rack; Pour la Victoire “Bijou” bag, $120 from T.J. Maxx.
Prices are what the sisters paid, often on sale or consignment; exact items may not still be available.
Get Their Look
1. “Kelly” padded skirt by Story of Lola, at Topshop ($85) 2. “Carolyn” cutout bootie by BCBGeneration, at Nordstrom ($128.95) 3. Off-the-shoulder sweater, at Forever 21 ($24.90) 4. Zodiac-sign tees, at Topshop ($50) 5. “Tina” bag by Danielle Nicole, at South Moon Under ($39.95) 6. Calf-leather skirt by Elie Tahari, at Current Boutique ($375.99, originally $1,198) 7. Leggings with leather accents, at T.J. Maxx ($29.99) 8. Hopsack peak-lapel blazer, at Gant ($595)
This article appears in the January 2015 issue of Washingtonian.
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.
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.
The Old Town accessories shop Bishop Boutique is known to go all out when it comes to lookbooks—previous works have featured beautifully elaborate sets and local bloggers in place of models. This season, the store took a new approach to to its catalog by partnering with a handful of nearby businesses—retail and otherwise—to create a joint lookbook that the team has dubbed the Cobblestone Runway.
Named after Old Town’s charming, signature streets, the lookbook brings together a talented mix of local forces: Styled by SpicyCandyDC’s Carlis Sanchez and primped by the Sugar House Day Spa, Rachel of My Fair Vanity, Tammy of A Loyal Love, Wendy of Old Town Home, and Bryarly of Everything That Flickers are the stars of the book, modeling not just Bishop’s latest goods (such as bubblegum-pink pumps and bright baubles) but also those of nearby Zoe Boutique. A partnership with the Dog Park and Operation Paws for Homes brought in some cute companions, and neighboring Jackson 20, Hotel Monoco, and the Morrison House Hotel hosted the photo shoots. Take a peek at some of the book’s best shots below, and head to Bishop’s blog to see the full version.
The weather is warm (finally!), outdoor venues are opening, and music fans are gearing up for Sweetlife and Firefly—it’s officially festival season. Which event hosts the best musical talent is up for debate—but when it comes to fashion, the indisputable frontrunner is Coachella.
Recognized by such high-fashion authorities as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and the Man Repeller as a hub for the best of bohemian style, the California-based festival is as much about the clothing as it is about the music, and is attended each year by countless impeccably dressed A-listers. DC-based sisters Natalie and Erika Pinto, the authors of local style blog The Fashionably Broke, are headed to this year’s star-studded event, which kicks off Friday. In preparation for the festive weekend, they’ve rounded up days’ worth of outfits that nail the breezy vibe. Read on for some of their looks and their tips for achieving the easygoing look.
Anyone who believes the stereotype that the Washington area lacks fashion creativity should get to know Nife Oluwole. The cheery, Maryland-based blogger behind SkinnyHipster boasts a signature style of vibrant hues, busy patterns, and out-there combinations that makes her one of the most flawlessly dressed—and eye-catching—women walking around DC.
That’s why we turned to her for help in mastering a tricky trend: mixing prints. She’s proven time and again that she nails the perfect balance; we pulled together six of our favorite examples and asked her to explain how she put together each look.
Captions run left to right.
Spotted last year on daring street style stars such as Blaire Eadie and Leandra Medine, the full midi skirt has now evolved into a full-fledged trend. These voluminous pieces, with hemlines that stop mid-calf, may seem intimidating but truly can flatter all body types and styles—as long as they’re paired with the right top and accessories. Below, local style bloggers teach us five ways to style the feminine, flirty skirts.
Tammy, A Loyal Love
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.
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.