What I’m Wearing: Style Blogger Nia Velis on How to Make Affordable Clothing Look Classy

All photos by Ann Maas Photography

Nia Velis can’t pick a fashion icon who her inspires her the most. Rather, she can’t pick just one.

“First, there’s Coco Channel,” she says. “I have learned a lot about simplicity and elegance in fashion from her. Second, Rihanna—I love how she pushes the edge of fashion and plays with different colors, textures, and prints all in a classy, modern, and feminine way.”

Both women inspire the 31-year-old’s sense of style, which she describes as feminine with a touch of glam and elegance. “My goal is to make inexpensive clothing items look as classy and fashionable as possible,” Velis says.

Born in Great Britain and raised in Zambia, Velis came to the US at age 16, and her family settled in Rockville. She now lives in Germantown and works as a tenant service coordinator at a commercial real estate company during the day, documenting her favorite style tips on her “Style By Nia V” blog and Instagram by night.

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.

All photos by Ann Maas Photography

What I’m wearing in this photo

Top (Forever 21); skirt (Necessary Clothing); heels (; purse (DSW).

Interview or big meeting outfit

Velis always wears a jacket for big meetings and interviews and prefers to look more professional than business casual in these settings. “I do, however, include my personal style by the jewelry pieces I wear,” she says. “As Diane Von Furstenberg says, jewelry is like the perfect spice.” Her personal style also includes red lipstick and heels. “Nothing screams fashion like a red lip and stylish heels.”

Favorite place to shop in town

Tysons Galleria in McLean

Favorite fashion trend

Off-the-shoulder tops and dresses. “They are such a feminine style and perfect for the summer months,” Velis says.

Least favorite fashion trend

“I wouldn’t say I have one. There is beauty in all fashion styles. It’s a matter of being creative and adding your own twist to make it work.”

Best fashion bargain you’ve found in DC

“The cutest off-the-shoulder Calvin Klein sweater dress from Clarksburg Premium Outlets.”

Favorite style advice

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman” – Coco Channel.

Dress and purse (Forever 21); Black tights (Walmart); Stiletto heels (Macy’s)
Dress (Boohoo); heels (; purse (DSW); sunglasses (H&M)
Floppy hat, romper, and cardigan (Forever 21); boots (Amazon Fashion); purse (DSW)
Bodysuit (Boohoo); skirt and purse (Forever 21); booties (Express)
Jacket (Necessary Clothing); top, scarf, and purse (Forever 21); jeans (Fashion Nova); booties (Express)

Assistant Editor

Elliot joined Washingtonian in January 2018. An alum of Villanova University, he grew up in the Philadelphia area before earning a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post,, and, among others. He lives in Bloomingdale.