News & Politics

The Blogger Beat: What She Has . . .

This week, we peruse the sale racks with bargain-hunting fashion blogger, Kelcey Ostrega.

Kelcey Ostrega poses for a nighttime fashion shoot. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Kelcy Ostrega started her fashion blog, What She Has . . ., as a New Year’s resolution in January. She calls herself a “blog-posting camel. I can go long periods without posting, but when I do, I’m loading up.”

Ostrega has always been interested in fashion, she says, “but I don’t really think I had any idea what I was doing until two or three years ago.” She attributes her evolving sense of style to her husband, Piotr. “He’s Polish and has that innate sense of European style that a lot of Americans lack,” she says. “I used to buy a lot of things just because they were a good deal, and he’s taught me to buy things because they look great on me.”

Even still, Ostrega is a bit of a bargain hunter. As the blog title suggests, many of her posts are wardrobe wish lists, but she has a real knack for finding high-fashion riffs at more wallet-friendly stores. Need proof? Check out her Fabulous Finds Under $50 list.

We caught up with this 28-year-old fashionista to chat about Washington style. Read on for her tips on glamming up a work outfit, her biggest fashion pet peeves, and where she goes to flex her bargain-hunting muscle.

Five words to describe your style:
“Comfortable, urban, classic, colorful, sleek.”

Five words to describe Washington’s style:
“I’m tempted to say, ‘Blah, blah, blah, blah, and blah.’ That’s the traditional stereotype, and it has some merit, I think, especially in downtown DC—the land of the monotonous dark suits. But in Logan Circle, where I live, people wear all kinds of awesome stuff.”

Number of items in your closet:
“Oh, wow. A lot. I’m definitely too embarrassed to count, but I’m not a hoarder. I’m a firm believer in healthy (and regular) closet purging—it’s the closet life cycle.”

Total cost of the outfit you’re wearing right now—including shoes:
“Here goes: Boots from DSW ($99), skirt from Banana Republic ($50), sweater from Ann Taylor ($25), tights from somewhere in Europe—Barcelona maybe?—($10), necklace from my husband as a gift, scarf from Eastern Market ($15), and jacket from somewhere in Rome ($25). That’s a grand total of $224.”

Three basics every woman should have in her closet:
“(1) A fantastic pair of jeans that makes you feel great. Denim Bar is a great place if you really want to invest. I’ve paid $150 for jeans there, but I’ve worn them 85 zillion times, so clearly my investment has paid off. (2) A versatile dress that you can wear alone or layer with tights, turtlenecks, sweaters, and belts as the weather cools. (3) You can fly far on the wings of white shirts. A simple cotton V-neck or the classic button-up make great backdrops for fun accessories.”

Best way to spice up a work outfit:
“Flair (but not 15 pieces, please). A funky, colorful scarf works great for fall’s changing temperatures and for traveling. Eastern Market is a great place to find fantastic, inexpensive ones.”

Best thing about fall fashion in Washington:
“I like those fall days where you can literally wear anything and be comfortable. There are people in shorts and others in hats and sweaters, but everyone is having a grand old time.”

Trend you’re most excited about for winter:


Biggest fashion pet peeve:

“For men, the too-short shirt; trust me, no one wants to see your happy trail. And for women, showing too much skin or trying to dress too young.”

One piece of advice for the fashionably inept:
“Remember what the great and wise Tim Gunn says: It’s all about silhouette, proportion, and fit. Look at those three things with a critical eye.”

Favorite Washington boutique for a splurge:
Intermix and Cusp are two of my favorite places to look, but I’ve honestly never bought a thing at either. I’m a discount gal through and through.”

Where you go for a bargain:

“I like to take it to the Maxx (as in T.J.), Filene’s Basement, and Target, of course. For shoes, the Nine West Outlet in Old Town and DSW. I also routinely troll the sale racks at Ann Taylor, Zara, J.Crew, Benetton, and Banana Republic.”

The most money you’ve ever spent on an article of clothing:
“Hmm, does my purse count? Excluding my wedding dress, my wonderful Maggie Coach purse is by far the most expensive thing I’ve ever purchased—it was just under $400. Please don’t tell my dad that.”

Finish this sentence: “I never leave home without my . . . ”
“ . . . dignity. The best compliment you can get is that you have class.”

Favorite local fashion blog besides your own:

“My friend just turned me on to Project Beltway. I’m totally hooked.”

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