Ten Well Dressed Women: Melody Barnes

Ten women share their fashion advice, their places to shop—and their fashion disasters.
Ten Well Dressed Women: Melody Barnes
Photograph by Matthew Worden

Melody Barnes, 43

Executive vice president for policy, Center for American Progress

How would you describe your style?

Understated but interesting. I like clean, elegant lines, and I love it when a piece has surprising detail.

Where do you like to shop?

Frances Kahn in my hometown of Richmond. The owner, Rusty Lester, does a great job of buying fun, new designers as well as classics. The assistant manager, Julie Bristow, knows my taste and what’s in my closet. I shop once in the spring and once in the fall. My mom comes along, and everyone is wonderful to her. I have a glass of wine, we laugh and catch up, and it’s efficient. I don’t like to spend a lot of time shopping.

What do you splurge on?

I love a beautiful suit. Wear the entire suit and you’re professional and put together. Put the jacket on with a pair of jeans and you’re ready for a fun dinner. I also have a crazy collection of Wolford tights. They’re a small detail that makes an outfit more interesting.

What outfit always makes you feel terrific?

In public, my Blue Cult jeans. I have them in dark denim, white, and other colors. At home, my favorite sweatpants, which lost elastic in the waist years ago. I just keep rolling them up.

What was your worst fashion disaster?

That’s a toss up. I loved my purple crushed-velvet, bell-bottom hip huggers from elementary school—but in retrospect, not a good idea. Many years ago, I wore a hot-pink-and-black dress to a New Year’s Eve party—scary.

What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received?

The best life advice I’ve received is also the best fashion advice: Be authentic. You shouldn’t wear it just because it’s in style or looks good on somebody else. You have to know who you are and honor that.


Want to nominate a local woman for next year's best-dressed list? Send suggestions to Leslie Milk at lmilk@washingtonian.com. 

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