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O.K., D.C., here's your chance…

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


D.C. does not have – how do we put this politely? – a very strong reputation for being cool and stylish. In fact, it's kind of a laughingstock, particularly in the fashion category, and is regularly subject to ridicule such as this recent headline from Jezebel:


That isn't to say some of the mocking isn't deserved. Walk down the street in D.C. on any given day, and you'll be subjected to a wide range of fashion don'ts, from frumpy suits to matronly heels to, yes, plenty of white sneakers with pantyhose and skirt suits (I like to think those people are devoting their time and energy to something bigger, like world hunger or the national debt). My friend Johanna, the fabulously stylish and talented writer behind recently retired D.C. style blog A Serious Job is No Excuse {which is sorely missed, though the archives are still a hilarious and helpful read the archives are down too, but i hope it's just temporary} built her entire blog empire on offering a tough-love approach to these fashion missteps along with helpful advice on how to correct them.

I think it may have worked. Since I've been back {I also lived here for most of 2003}, I've noticed a vast improvement. Silhouettes are fitted. Heels are rounded. Boots are slouchy. There's an unsettling amount of Uggs, but I suppose they're (marginally) better than square-toed orthopedic-ish heels. There are stores like Relish and Hu's Shoes and Meeps, offering items that could never be mistaken for Ann Taylor or (shudder) Chico's. The women of D.C. have slowly been upgrading their image, waiting for the time to show off all they've done.

Well, kids, I think this might be that moment.

As you know, the Sartorialist photo exhibit is coming to D.C. and they're having an open-to-the-public reception next Wednesday, March 19 from 6:30-8:30pm at Adamson Gallery. {Note: The NY launch of the same show was also open to the public, and it was so crowded, the line looped around the block and many people didn't get in and have the chance to show off their carefully selected outfits. Go early, maybe. Or go late. Or prepare for a bit of a wait and a crowd, just in case fashion followers start coming out of the woodwork here.}

In any case, the hot topic around these parts is "What are you wearing to the Sartorialist party?" Not that I think any of us are necessarily looking to go to the lengths needed to impress Mr. Schuman himself, but rather, this is a major fashion-y event in our own little, known-for-white-sneakers-and-pantyhose city, and finally – finally! – we have the chance to redeem ourselves. {And, yes, though I'm the new girl in town, I'm including myself in this crusade as well.}

So, what am I wearing? Hmmm, I don't know yet. (Though I do love any opportunity to dress up and go out, so I'm rather excited.) But you can bet your sweet potato that, no matter if I settle on dark skinny jeans or a wild vintage dress, it will (hopefully) be cute, fun and representative of the New D.C. Style. If I had to offer advice, I'd say: Don't stress too much about it, but don't wear your gym sneakers either. Or flipflops. Or anything your mom might also wear, unless your mom is incredibly stylish in a Helen Mirren-esque way. {Scratch that: I love Helen, but I don't want her wardrobe. Although this jacket is kind of cute.} If you're in serious doubt, go simple and chic. And if you've been waiting for the chance to break out that fabulous crazy-designer frock, well, this might be it! (Although I always say, go ahead and break it out for Saturday night drinks too. The bar scene here could use a dose of creativity and color.)

And, if we both manage to make it inside and you see me, come say hi! I not have been here long, but I love meeting new friends. And, who knows? Maybe the Sartorialist will ask to take our picture together.

23 comments :

Anonymous said...

It appears that the archives for A Serious Job are gone. At least that's what it looked like when I clicked over a few minutes ago.

priya said...

OMG, you're right! The archives are gone! ASJINE was my favorite blog in the whole world. I miss it so...but at least I now have FiS to keep my style/great writing fixes satisfied!

Dee said...

I agree, since the tragic demise of ASJiNE this has become my favorite blog...I'm even going through the archives! And thank you for addressing the Sartorialist exhibit...I'm planning on going in the middle of some Thursday to lessen the anxiety that comes from the idea of all the fashionable people in Northern VA, DC and Maryland congregating in the same space at once. Although I would love to see what DC offers up!

ms. spinach said...

whoa, that just happened. they were definitely there when i put this up!

let's hope and wish it's a fluke.

miznyc said...

I just happened upon your blog and I lovingly refer to DC as "the place where fashion goes to die"

Originally from NY (and an artist type to boot) and when I first moved down here and worked downtown I was completely saddened by the boring outfits.

I'm sorry to have missed out on ASJiNE but happy to have found you!

Anonymous said...

speaking up for women in DC wearing "white sneakers with pantyhose and skirt suits", the majority of these women wear these sneakers during their commute on the subway and change when they get to the office. surely you didn't think those sneakers were the true choice of footwear with a suit?

always glad to offer insight ;)

ms. spinach said...

oh, no, i know that. i myself am one of those people who can't always walk in their heels and keep the spare set of comfy shoes on hand for the commute. i just support an alternative for walking footwear, like comfy ballet flats or cute little keds slip-ons.

queenNriot said...

omg, you all should have been at The Park on tuesday. Its is where the DC "fashion elite" meet to plot how to makeover the city, so to speak!! Join the Meetup.com DC Fashionista group. We just had our spring trend preview fashion show! Its the only thing that gives me hope in this fashionably challenged city:) I will TOTALLY be at the satorialist exhibit....see you there:)

::nahal:: said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'M SO EXCITED!!! I have most definitely been thinking about what to wear and I still don't know.....I've never been to a fashion event and I am brave around DC because I know people won't judge/care but let's hope there are not a lot of "fashionistas" and more unique, adventurous, fashion-loving DCers!

enc said...

I missed the ASJINE boat, and now I think I made a major mistake.

Anyway, this post was great to read.

Anonymous said...

Most people at the NYC opening wore jeans...and the Sartorialist wasn't taking pics.

christine said...

well I'm glad I found you, especially now that ASJINE's archives are all gone! ALL GONE! arghhhhh!

etoilee8 said...

Wish I had seen you at the opening. . . I would have introduced myself. . . I love making new friends too.

Moi said...

I will be at the DC event tonite; in jeans and a bright yellow shirt. Hope to see/meet you.

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