In 2022, Ryan Washington worked at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference as a volunteer, and at one point Representative Ayanna Pressley stopped to compliment him on his suit. He and Pressley chatted for a bit about fashion, and the Hill’s defunct “50 Most Beautiful” list came up. That later got him thinking: Maybe he could bring the idea back in a more modern way, spotlighting Capitol Hill staffers with a keen sense of fashion. He wanted to celebrate style rather than beauty—to create a place that “does not judge people on their physicality but what they wear to work.”
It took more than a year to figure out exactly how to do that, but eventually Washington—who now works as a legislative correspondent for Senator Cory Booker—came up with Hill Fits, a TikTok account (@Hillfits) devoted to those whose style happens to catch his eye. It’s also, he says, an opportunity to feature Hill staffers of color, such as Layla Brooks, who works for Congressman Troy Carter, and Sydney Minetta Brown, also on Booker’s staff. “I think it’s essential to highlight the fashion on the Hill,” says Brooks, “because it could inspire the next generation to get involved and want to work here.”
@hillfits hillfits pt. 2 w/Sydney #congress #politics #congressionalstaffer #fashion #capitolhill #washingtondc ♬ original sound – Hill Fits
Washington got into fashion back when he was in college at Howard University. “We are known for having fashionable students,” he says, and “junior year, I changed my style and became really interested in suits.” Suddenly the compliments started rolling in, and he began paying more attention to others who cared about their clothes.
Hill Fits launched in July, offering short video interviews with people whose look stands out. That isn’t always easy to find on the Hill, which remains a pretty conservative environment, at least when it comes to style: Black, blue, and khaki are still the most common colors. So when Washington is searching for people to feature, he always looks out for vibrant shades: “I check to see if it is eye-catching and sets you apart from the typical Hill look.”
So far, the account has only a handful of videos—after all, Capitol Hill isn’t exactly crawling with Vogue-worthy clothes hounds. But the videos have proven popular (one has attracted more than 261,000 views), and Washington is confident he can find plenty of future fodder. Plus, it’s less about the attire than the whole package. “I try to not only look at if the outfit is unique,” he says, “but how it expresses your style to the people you work with.”
This article appears in the November 2023 issue of Washingtonian.