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What I’m Wearing: A Former Army Officer and Pageant Queen Shares Her Style Tips

Army veteran Raquel Riley Thomas is now a fashion expert on ABC's "Good Morning Washington."
Photo courtesy of Ali Rizvi

Prince George’s County-native Raquel Riley Thomas describes her sense of style as “glam-rock.” The glam comes from her experience in the beauty pageant business, she says, and the rock comes from her nine years in the Army—first as a photojournalist and then as an ordnance officer. The mother of four is the owner of An Officer and Gentlewoman, a DC-based production company that specializes in beauty pageants and TV casting.

After being honorably discharged from the Army in 2002, Thomas became a model with Elite Modeling Agency and beauty pageant winner—she won Mrs. Maryland America 2010 and was the runner up for Mrs. America 2011. Her days are spent running her business, curating her fashion-centric Instagram account, and providing style advice on ABC morning shows “Let’s Talk Live” and “Good Morning Washington.”

“Most people who like to shop have what they need in their closet to put an outfit together,” she says. “Sometimes though, they will get home and not know how to put things together. My solution: start with one piece that you really want to wear, whether it’s a pair of fabulous shoes or a blouse you love. Next, build the rest of your outfit around that piece. If you need help, you can go to style apps like Pinterest and find ideas that will support that statement piece.”

Photo courtesy of Roy Cox

What I’m wearing in this picture

White cape and necklace (BCBG); Karl Lagerfeld T-shirt; jeans (True Religion); boots (Hades Footwear); hair (Artyce Dozier of Hair Meets Art).

Fashion icon

Charlize Theron. “She takes classic pieces and mixes them up with street style. Lots of zippers and buckles. I love it.”

Interview outfit

“I love jackets, jeans, turtlenecks, and boots,” Thomas says. “If I do wear a skirt, it will normally be a vintage A-line, preferably high-waisted. I then add a fitted top and an over-sized belt to keep it tailored, and whenever possible, a cropped jacket.”

Favorite item of clothing

A Vigoss jacket with flower print on the back and sides. “It also has metal spikes running over the sleeves and collar, which makes for a challenge going through Reagan National Airport security. It’s a great mix of feminine and femme fatale.”

Favorite place to shop in town

City Center DC. “The area has style written all over it,” she says.

Favorite fashion trend

Leather. “It dominated the runways for the 2018 winter season, I noticed.”

Best fashion bargain you’ve found in DC

“I found a pair of Versace boots on sale that were in my size! I’m five-foot-nine-inches tall, and I wear a nine-and-a-half shoe, so if I find a boot that fits me well and is on sale, it’s a great day for me.”

Raquel Riley Thomas DC Fashion

Photo courtesy of Ali Rizvi
Photo courtesy of Schnelle Jefferson

Have a unique sense of style you’d like to share with other Washingtonians? Tag a picture of your favorite outfit on Instagram with #WhatImWearingDC, or email me with “What I’m Wearing” in the subject line. You might be featured next! To read past entries, click here.

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Assistant Editor

Elliot joined Washingtonian in January 2018. An alum of Villanova University, he grew up in the Philadelphia area before moving to Syracuse, where he earned a master’s degree in journalism. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, TheAtlantic.com, CatholicNews.com, and Syracuse.com. He lives in Eckington.