About a year ago, when I first began telling my friends and family that I was considering a move from my native New York City to Washington DC, the first argument against it–without fail–would be “but you have so much style.” I’ll admit, I didn’t disagree with their concern. I had been told by Washingtonians that I wore too much makeup, dressed up too much, and wore heels that were too high for DC. I was also informed that my style in general would never fit in with a more conservative city and that I would be sentenced to shop endlessly at Annie Sez or Dress Barn.
Fortunately, the path that life has taken me since my arrival in the District has been self-employed writer/editor. Since I frequently work from home (and in my–stylish–pajamas), I have been spared the consternation of appearing too fashionable in the workplace. This means that most of my sartorial stylings must be done for fun, when out with friends. However, I have noticed over the past few months in particular, that my style is changing. As a good little MPA, I don’t want to confuse causation with correlation, so further analysis indicates that a variety of factors have influenced my sartorial shift.
The longer I live in DC without the sexy and powerful job I had thought I’d acquire, the more I notice that my perspective on style has changed. I’m a lot less edgy than I used to be. I bought a floral sundress at a yard sale back in June (it wasn’t black and it wasn’t highly architectural–what?), which became one of my favorite summer pieces. In my former life, I would only have worn that with a blazer or a super-structured jacket, because I didn’t want to appear “soft.”
Likewise, when my favorite pair of wedges broke while walking down U Street back in July, I found myself choosing an adorable pair of light blue Chuck Taylors as a replacement. They were always on my list of shoes to buy when I lived in New York, but what with the farther distances between metro and bus stops and the sometimes crooked paving stones, I found that it might be sexier to not trip while walking. I have definitely fallen off my heels in front of Armand’s Chicago Pizza on Mass several time while hiking to the metro. And I always feel like an ass.
That’s not to say that I exclusively wear flats (I wore a comfortable pair of wedges while walking across the Mall to meet a friend for lunch today) or that I dress like Laura Ashley. I just choose not to define myself by my style anymore, just as I don’t define myself by my work. I wear what I like, when I feel like it.
However, I have had run-ins with a judgmental style-element here in DC. Back in May, while wearing an outfit of denim-ish shorts, yellow kitten heels and a black v-neck t-shirt I stopped into the Whole Foods on P Street to pick up some almond butter. Some guy called me a whore and I assume it must have been my outfit, since I typically refrain from prostitution. That was a tough blow, DC. I spent the rest of the summer concerned that my shorts were too short or my heels were too high. It shook me a bit. I used to wear that outfit all the time in New York and no one thought I was a whore. But then again, I didn’t really shop at Whole Foods much… .
Anyway, maybe I hang out with the wrong people, but where are the hordes of style-challenged Washingtonians roving the streets in fugly cardigans and flats? Sure, I see a few of them each day, but that is probably due in part to living on the Hill. I think there may be some DC code that states no staffers can wear heels that would make them taller than the Capitol? And anyway, I don’t know if I want to see Congressional employees focusing too much on their footwear when budgets need to get passed (just saying).
Having gone through “winter” (it hit 75 degrees on February 1, the day I moved here), spring and summer in the District, I’m excited to see what fall will be like. What will people wear? I’m even more excited about tomorrow’s Fashion’s Night Out in Georgetown. I’m planning on wearing my heels, my LBD, and live-tweeting from the event for this humble blog! Join us at Hela Spa for their party and to prove that DC Style is definitely Real.
Written by Juliet Vedral. Check out her media empire at The Wheelhouse Review.