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This culinary expert brings a hip edge to the Italian eatery. By Valeria Boucas
Photographs by Andrew Propp.

Who: Erin Clarke, 34

Chef de Cuisine at Casa Luca

What I do: "I am chef de cuisine of Chef Fabio Trabocchi's restaurant Casa Luca. You can find me in the kitchen between 9 AM and 10 PM pretty much any day of the week except Sunday. I cook, clean, create, and attempt to organize and direct a kitchen full of high-spirited cooks and a dining room full of some of the most talented people I've ever had the pleasure of working with."

My work style: "At work I'm usually in clogs and chef whites—not much room for anything else except an apron. Most mornings, I throw on work pants, my boyfriend's sweatshirt, and moccasins. They're super soft, broken in, and you don't have to lace them up, which makes changing into my uniform a breeze. Honestly, I'm half dressed before I get to work, but I always keep a blazer, a tailored pair of jeans, and a button-down collared shirt hanging up in the office just in case. It's my uniform."

In the Kitchen

"I purchased these Minnetonka moccasins when I lived in Charleston, South Carolina. Nights were cold, and there was always broken glass on the ground in the kitchens, so these were the perfect shoes to wear. They're also great on plane trips."

Out of the Kitchen

"I love this Theory blazer—I've had it for more years than I can remember. It's a label I stick to; classic, tailored pieces that last a lifetime. The scarf and earrings were a gift from my mother, who also happens to be my fashion mentor. I have no idea where she bought the scarf, but the earrings were brought back from a recent trip to Santa Fe. I'm also never without my Ray Ban sunglasses when I'm outside; I feel strange without them. I'd leave the house without keys or a phone before I left without my Ray Bans. These booties are also some of my favorites. They're a rare online purchase from a website I no longer remember, but they're versatile, comfortable, and not heels—everything I look for in a shoe."

Theory blazer, Hudson jeans, Mea Shadow boots, Ray Ban sunglasses.

The Details

All photographs by Andrew Propp.

Think you or someone you know deserves a chance in the What I Wear to Work spotlight? E-mail vboucas@washingtonian.com with pictures and a job description for consideration.

Posted at 10:20 AM/ET, 10/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This marketing pro falls for polished staples with an unstructured edge. By Michelle Thomas
Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Who: Denise Nguyen, 27

Marketing manager, Occasions Caterers

What I do: “I manage all branding and communications for Occasions Caterers and our sister companies, MENUS Catering and Protocol Staffing Services. This includes the development, strategy, and overall execution of all content marketing, both online and off. Website launches, social media, new business development, and media relations are part of my everyday; I also support tastings and community-related efforts, such as our mural project with Sitar Arts Center, a three-year partnership resulting in a 90-foot student-made mural. I also enjoy working with great talents producing video and photography, as well as styling shoots."

My work style: “I have an ongoing affair with structured versus unstructured. That’s really my style in a nutshell. I’m mad for pairing the tailored with the relaxed. It also describes my work, as someone who wears many hats and is constantly multitasking. I need structure to stay sane, but flexibility is also key. I like to update traditional looks with just a glimmer of edge: an unpredictable color or texture. I prefer flair on my feet, instead of jewelry. A good shoe really does live forever. I tend to shy away from busy prints; I find them limiting. But prints that can act as neutrals? Now that, I can get behind.”

Where I shop for workwear: “A bit of everywhere. I’m more focused on fabrication, flexibility, and whether I can see it living in my closet for a long while. Or if the piece has great verticals—can it be dressed up and down? Nothing pains me more than purchasing something that’s ‘trendy' and then chucking it at the end of season. If I have to name some places, my usual online sites are Gilt, the Outnet, and Barney's. Go-to-brands? Theory, A.P.C., and Tibi. I can always find staples with some edge.”

Working an Event

“If I’m working one of our events, it’s generally for photography, media opportunities, or other special projects. Because our team’s rule of thumb is to wear black, I tend to have my fun with structure. Also, this is a terrific transition shoe. It’s an open-toe pump, but the suede lets me reach for them in both summer and fall. The color-blocking and thick front band is a nice update to what would be a minimalist open-toe pump. It gives a little edge to a classic silhouette.”

Zara waffle-knit asymmetrical sweater, H&M full pleated skirt, Narcisco Rodriguez coral suede and red leather color-blocked sandals, Alexander Wang leather tote.

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Posted at 10:45 AM/ET, 10/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It's all about the accessories for these stylish communications mavens. By Valeria Boucas

Who: Charissa Benjamin, 34, and Elaine Mazanec, 28

Partners at Savor PR

What we do: "Simply put, we tell our clients' stories and work with them to attract an audience, build and grow their brand, and communicate to the media and public about who they are and what they do. Together we run Savor PR a full-service public relations agency that provides strategic communications, brand management, and media relations to clients in the restaurant, travel, and hospitality industries. We collaborate with a range of clients from up-and-coming chefs to bakers to winemakers and industry veterans with multiple restaurants and accolades under their belts."

Describe your style at work:

Charissa: "For everyday client meetings, my go-to is great-fitting jeans (gray, white, black, indigo) and a stylish top or a blazer over one of my many Theory T-shirts. I own a lot of basics in black, white, and gray, but I am from Antigua in the Caribbean, so I love to insert pops of color with lipstick, fun jewelry, or bold patterns. In fact, jewelry is one of my weaknesses, and I enjoy finding statement pieces that add character to an outfit. It took me a long time, but I've learned to embrace and love my hair. My hair is big, and the style doesn't change for the occasion—client meeting, evening event, or new business pitch—it's very much a part of who I am and one of my favorite accessories."

Elaine: "I would describe my style as a collection of classic, timeless pieces, dressed up or down with statement jewelry or accessories that can seamlessly transition from day to evening. A 'uniform' for me consists of a silk blouse, dark jeans, sturdy heels, and a jacket (typically the item I tend to invest in the most). I tend to skip the trends—I find they go as quickly as they come. Instead I just try to focus on finding flattering pieces and invest in a few nice things that can mix and match well. And a bag. I love a classic bag."


Everyday/Client Meeting

Charissa: "We get to work with great clients who embrace our eclectic and laid-back style. The good news is we don't have to wear suits every day. Our non-routine days can include everything from a client meeting to a TV news shoot to delivering food samples. I love jeans, and the most flattering cut for me at the moment is Paige Verdugo Ultra Skinny. While I usually wear some form of a blazer and blouse combo, I love the length and cut on this tailored white button-down from AllSaints."

AllSaints shirt, Paige jeans, Renvy plum-colored mohair heels, and Diane von Furstenberg bag.

Elaine: "The various needs of our clients don't necessarily lend themselves to a standard routine, and I feel fortunate not to have a typical desk job. Every day is different, and my only weekday constants seem to be a morning coffee run to the Wydown with my beagle, Jack, and a workout of some sort. The many variables include photo shoots, media dinners, client conference calls, and those coveted moments of peace with my laptop and headphones. With such variance in our schedules I gravitate toward a comfortable but professional 'work uniform' of jeans, which I dress up a bit with a silk blouse, a nice jacket, and heels. My favorite everyday necklace is a handmade piece by local jewelry designer Jane Swensen."

Joie silk blouse, J Brand jeans, Rebecca Taylor tweed jacket, Rag & Bone harrow booties, Jane Swensen gold necklace, Club Monaco beaded wrap bracelet, and Madewell leather tote bag.

The Details

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Posted at 05:11 PM/ET, 09/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This VP mixes things up with bold colors, graphic prints, and unexpected details. By Michelle Thomas

Who: Leigh George, 45

Vice President, Digital Strategist, Social@Ogilvy

What I do: “I help public and private sector brands develop, implement and track strategic plans for brand awareness, customer acquisition, customer relationship management, online engagement and community management. Depending on the client and the business challenge this could include creating a website, launching a paid media campaign, deploying a crisis communication plan, developing a content marketing program, uncovering insights with social listening and data analytics, and building influencer, advocacy and loyalty programs.”

Describe your style at work: “With a PhD in branding, I’m acutely aware of the power of personal image. I believe your style should tell a story about who you are and how you view yourself. No detail should be left to chance. Even my asymmetrical pixie, color and cut at Eastern Confederate, is a key part of my image. I love combining tailored feminine silhouettes with bold colors, graphic prints and unexpected details. I go for looks that make people stop and take notice … and sometimes even spark rumors. I’ve been mistaken for a fashion blogger and, when I joined Ogilvy, my colleagues told me they heard I was on Washingtonian’s best-dressed list. I don’t think that list exists, but I’ll take the compliment!”

Client Meeting

“There’s nothing more important than feeling confident in front of a client. I’ve always been a huge fan of high-waisted skirts because of the way they accentuate your waist. Combining the bold stripes of the skirt with the sculptural construction of the kelly green crop top creates a timeless yet very modern look that projects an air of authority and vibrancy, qualities that are crucial when meeting with clients.”

Erika Schrieber top, A.L.C. skirt, Vince Camuto booties, Nervous System cuff, Kalaki Riot ring, Elaine B. earrings

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Posted at 11:20 AM/ET, 09/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The DC native talks about her favorite places to shop in Washington and the power of a statement shoe. By Valeria Boucas

Who: Justine Harman, 29
Features Editor, Elle.com

What I do: “I am the features editor at Elle.com, where I write and edit longform content for the number one fashion magazine in the world, Elle! I also help helm special projects, such as our monthly guest blogger series and Hot Guy/Cold Drink, a column in which I essentially have cocktails with some of the cutest guys in entertainment. It’s a pretty decent racket.”

My work style: “Basics with an edge—high-waisted jeans, loose button-downs, and lightweight silk dresses—with functional heels. However, I am not above a statement piece. My mom, former congresswoman Jane Harman (and the high priestess of DC cool), introduced me to to the power of the impact shoe. My favorite pairs, like a pair of two-tone, d’Orsay Pierre Hardy pumps, come from Hu’s Shoes on M Street.”

Interviewing a Designer or Celebrity

“Here I am interviewing actor Michael Pitt wearing an Atlantique Ascoli cropped tank, trousers by The Row, and Jean-Michel Cazabat slides. It was an especially hot day, and I had trained up to NYC from DC that morning, so I needed something that traveled well.” Photograph by Katie Friedman. 


Typical Day at the Office

“I tend to wear things that are comfortable, and this look is no exception: J.Crew shirtdress (I worked at the store in Georgetown Park in high school and have a total soft spot for their stuff) and my beloved Day Birger et Mikkelsen striped tee around my waist. The shoes are Saint Laurent. The glasses are Oliver Peoples.” Photograph by Joslyn Blair.


Casual Friday

“There really isn’t much of a dress code at Elle, but if I am going for a more laid-back look, I tend to rely on this Étoile Isabel Marant wrap dress. My brother and friend P.J. tell me that it looks like a karate gi, but what do they know? The shoes are the same Jean-Michel Cazabat slides. What can I say? I love ’em.” Photograph by Katie Friedman.


Think you or someone you know deserves a chance in the What I Wear to Work spotlight? E-mail vboucas@washingtonian.com with pictures and a job description for consideration. 

Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 08/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The chef favors simplicity and European touches in his wardrobe. By Valeria Boucas
Photographs by Greg Powers.

Who: Chef Frederik de Pue, 37
Chef/owner of Table DC and Menu MBK 

What I do: “I run Table DC and Menu MBK. Table is a Euro-style restaurant with seasonal dishes, and I just opened Menu MBK earlier this year. I spend an equal amount of time at both restaurants, although I consider Menu my ‘office’ as there’s physically more space for me there. I oversee menu development and daily operations of the restaurants. Some of the seasonal or signature dishes include the octopus at Table and the current chef’s tasting menu at Menu MBK. The theme changes monthly. It’s hosted at the open chef’s counter/kitchen with only six seats, and this month’s theme is breakfast for dinner.”

My work style: “A lot of chefs wear Crocs or clogs in the kitchen, but I love Adidas indoor soccer shoes. I’m typically in jeans and clothes from Massimo Dutti. I like their classic and stylish aesthetic with that European sensibility. I’m always in favor of the more polished look.”

My off-duty style: “I gravitate toward simplicity—just blazers and jeans. In the summer I’ll wear something more breathable, like shorts, when I get home, but I have to admit I’m not much of a summer guy. I find it harder to dress well in the summer, and I was brought up around clothing since my mom owns a store called Van Houtte in my hometown of Ghent, Belgium. She sells both men’s and women’s clothing and it has been in her family for over 50 years. She definitely passed on her fashion sense to me.” 

The Details

The Samba sneaker by Adidas Originals, $65. Photograph courtesy of Adidas.

Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.

Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 08/06/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
These hospitality professionals show us how it’s done, in an industry that always has to look on-point. By Valeria Boucas

Who: Sophie Penichet, 26

Guest Experience Manager, Avenue Suites

What I do: “I oversee the guest experience at Avenue Suites, a lifestyle hotel in the Modus collection, in Georgetown. It’s a fun position that blends marketing and hotel operations. I focus on establishing partnerships that connect guests with unique experiences to make each stay unforgettable. The work is entrepreneurial in developing creative strategies and programs that increase hotel visibility and enhance its value. With the assistance of a great internal team and external partners, I help manage new programs including necessary support with website management, print and digital collateral, and events.”

My work style: “Unlike bigger hotel chains, Modus celebrates the individual spirit so there is definitely personal expression in style. Mine is polished, classic, and feminine, with a modern edge. My family lives in France, so every year I go back and stockpile items that cannot be bought in the US.”

VIP meeting

“Style and sophistication is a part of Avenue’s brand narrative, so whether meeting with new clients, partners, or VIPs, I represent that image. A graphic blazer, a pencil skirt, platform heels, and a top bun would be my go-to.”


Typical day at the office

“Most days you will find me in a dress or skirt with a blazer and high heels. For everyday, I love to mix and match neutrals and then layer on a statement necklace or bold earrings and cuff. My current favorites include a pair of gold graphic earrings and Swarovski retro earrings. I love the Georgetown boutique Charm for different inexpensive options. Accessories revolutionize any outfit.”


“Casual Friday”

“At a hotel, there’s no off day—whether it is a Monday morning or Sunday night, you always need to appear professional. I use Fridays as an opportunity to wear fun and trendier pieces such as a bold color dress (red Vince Camuto peplum) or a black jumpsuit—just add lipstick after work for a day-to-night look.”

Photographs courtesy of Penichet.

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Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 08/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Leigh Heyman shows us how he sneaks bits of personality into his wardrobe at one of the city’s most serious workplaces. By Diana Elbasha

Who: Leigh Heyman, 42
Director of New Media Technologies, Executive Office of the President

What I do: “I oversee the development and operations for the entire technical platform behind the White House’s online presence. This involves managing teams of developers and collaborating with the White House digital strategy team and communications staff on new ways to engage with the public online. Everything from new website features like the ‘We The People’ petitions site, to adding new social networking tools to our live video streams, to supporting major online events like Twitter Q&As with the President, the Vice President, or the First Lady.”

My work style: “As my career has evolved and my responsibilities have grown, I’ve toned down some of the bolder aspects of my style and I now try for a more restrained look that highlights the cut and fabric of my suits and ties. But that simplicity is by no means conservative or plain. In fact, I find it frees me up to focus on details like complex color-mixing and expressing subtle hints of personality through judicious use of accessories; I try to strike a balance between bold statement-making and the seriousness of the place I work.”

VIP Meeting

“Aside from my tuxedo, this suit is my favorite thing in my closet. I chose some classic style elements, such as the high-waisted, pleated trousers, specifically to offset the boldness of the lavender pinstripe and strike that balance of subtlety. I love that the suit’s ability to make a statement all on its own simplifies the selection of the rest of the outfit—I almost always pair it with a solid shirt and one of my quieter ties. It’s one of my most comfortable suits, so I’ll usually wear it when I know I’m going to have a long day.”

Kent Wang suit, Proper Cloth shirt, Tom Ford tie, Barney’s pocket square, English Laundry suspenders, Pantherella socks, Cole Haan shoes, Peter Lever cufflinks, Longines watch, Ted Baker bracelet, Ray-Ban sunglasses. 

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Posted at 12:28 PM/ET, 06/25/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A peek at the eclectic staff behind the powerhouse wedding startup. By Diana Elbasha

Sometimes, when it comes to these features, it’s impossible to pick just one person out of a stylish group of Washingtonians. Take the three lovely ladies behind preppy apparel label Tuckernuck, for instance, or that time we featured nearly 60 of LivingSocial’s staffers.

Such was the case when we visited WeddingWire’s ultra-cool Chevy Chase headquarters. The office—laden with bright orange sofas, ping-pong tables, and a fully stocked snack area with a sign reading “Treat Yo’Self”—embraces a creative, casual-cool style not often spotted in offices around here. And we’re not talking riffs on pencil skirts and blazers: Graphic tees, animal prints, and bright hues are the norm, and the company’s 300-plus employees are encouraged to express their invidual style, whether that means donning sky-high Louboutins or Wedding Wire-blue Google Glass (both of which make an appearance in this feature). We caught up with a handful of WW’s refreshingly diverse staffers to bring you a glimpse of its unique, startup-culture style. Click through the slideshow to see all the looks.

All photographs by Andrew Propp.

Posted at 02:44 PM/ET, 04/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This communications exec adds her own modern touch to classic, feminine pieces. By Diana Elbasha

Who: Maria Jose Abad, 29

Account supervisor for Qorvis MSLGROUP, Author of Maria On Point

What I do: “I’m a communications executive practiced in tactical execution and strategic planning for clients, with an emphasis on public and media relations, brand messaging, consumer marketing, and social media strategy for national and international campaigns. I manage corporate and consumer clients, offering strategic counsel, event development and management, and media relations support while managing an internal team from our creative division.”

My work style: “I tend to lean toward preppy, clean, and feminine looks. For the most part, I wear dresses, pencil skirts, and skinny pants to the office. I tend to wear classic and fitted outfits to work but always add a touch of personality through statement necklaces, colorful scarves, and blazers. Another key piece I wear to the office at least twice a week is the J.Crew Tippi sweater. I have at least ten of them, ranging from cashmere to Merino wool to linen. My outfits are always comfortable and professional with a splash of sophistication and femininity.”

Client Meeting

“When it comes to client meetings, I tend to wear my most professional business attire but still add a modern touch. Depending on the client, I am able to play a little bit with my outfit choices. A tweed jacket and skirt are perfect for the winter months; they have that Chanel classic and feminine air that we girls love. The houndstooth pattern and the beads on the jacket add a chic touch while keeping it professional and appropriate for seeing clients. I typically pair these looks with nude asymmetric Zara heels, my go-to office shoes.”

Tory Burch houndstooth tweed jacket, J.Crew tweed pencil skirt, Coach watch, vintage pearl bracelet, and Majorica pearl earrings via Neiman Marcus.

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Posted at 03:30 PM/ET, 03/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()