Capitalized Fashion

Originally, I didn’t want to come to Washington, DC.

I thought the Washington Semester Program that American University offers would consist of “all-politics-errthang.” I was pleasantly surprised that that was far from the case.

The Journalism & New Media program is finely tuned to your interests! And you all know what mine is. Uhuh, fashion.

In my writing class, I’ve had assignments to go out and interview sources that would build my stories. My most recent assignment that I’m super proud of is my project entitled “Capitalized Fashion.” In that piece, I sought out to prove that fashion surely exists in our nation’s capital. It not only exists, but it is flourishing in this political-driven society.

Here’s my intro:

Clear, stainless glass protects timeless pieces of American history’s most prominent women in “The First Ladies” exhibit at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. One after another, dress after dress and piece after piece are shown in an attractive collection of class and wealth. In the center of the dimly lit room beckons First Lady Michelle Obama’s very own inaugural gown that she wore to President Obama’s first Inaugural Ball in 2009. A light shines from the top of the display, romanticizing the delicate, one-shoulder dress designed by Jason Wu; accentuating the glittering, stacked bracelets; and highlighting the signature and seemingly comfortable Jimmy Choo shoes.

You want more, huh?

Well, the paper is entirely too long for a blog post (6 pages+) so I won’t share all of the details. However, I’ve gotten some valuable advice from those I interviewed and I’m here to share with you some of their quotes that I utilized in my piece. The list includes Fashion Washington’s co-editor Janet Kelly (a publication initiated by the Washington Post), blogger Krystin Hargrove of Be Loud Be You, blogger Ashley Chew of Ashley Tenise, the founder of the DC Fashion Foundation Christine Brooks-Cropper and student assistant Mary Vanidiver of DC Fashion Week.

Time for a little Q&A. (PS: The photos I’m using are from my visit from the “First Ladies” exhibit at The Smithsonian!)

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DSC_0172Do you find it difficult to find stories to cover in a politic driven society such as DC?

No, people in DC may not admit they care about what they wear but they’re fibbing. You send a message with your clothing. Everyone cares about how they come across. They may not want to wear the latest trends but they want to look good. – Janet Kelly

What does politics and fashion have in common?

“You definitely have to have thick skin. Politics will eat you up and spit you out and so will fashion. It’s really not that different. It’s just that, you know, fashion is more on the creative side – the creative economy but it’s business. But then also politics is all about negotiation, policy, making change and business. I mean, at the end of the day, even in politics you really have to have a business mindset because you have to think of your constituents and so the similarities is politics, you have constituents and fashion, you have consumers. So you always have to be thinking about your market, never about yourself. However, another similarity is fashion is a very “I, I” world and with politics, it’s the same thing. So they’re very similar industries. And to be quite honest, no one has ever asked me that and just thinking through it and talking about it, it’s really not that different. And I guess that’s why I’ve been surviving 8 years dealing with these two markets.” – Christine Brooks-Cropper

“Finesse.” – Janet Kelly

“Fashion is relevant even through politics and any topic – you just have to be passionate as to find out ways to make it relevant. Because there’s always somebody going to their job who wants to stand out in some way even though they have to stay in a strict dress code. Fashion for DC calls for innovation, trying to be different and just pushing the boundaries while still looking appropriate. – Mary Vandiver

“I don’t do politics. Shocking I know, because I’m near DC. I will say there’s politics involved in everything you’ll ever do. You just have to learn to maneuver through them.” – Krystin Hargrove

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How does the First Lady contribute to fashion?

“The First Lady has supported the fashion industry by wearing clothes from many different designers for her numerous public appearances. Any designer she chooses to wear is sure to experience an uptick in sales. Look at Jason Wu. He’s a star because she wore two of his gowns at the inaugural balls. She looks great in clothes and people love that and want to imitate her. She doesn’t stick to one style or designer; she seems to enjoy fashion and isn’t afraid to experiment with mixing high and low — She will wear a J Crew cardigan or belt with an Oscar de la Renta sheath, for example. She has been a refreshing influence and makes the point that fashion does matter.” – Janet Kelly

What do you consider the most important facets of the fashion industry?

“Fashion is a form of art, I think the most important thing to do is stay true to who you are and your point of view. If you do that you’ll be good to go.” – Krystin Hargrove

“Making people care how they present themselves.” – Janet Kelly

What’s the biggest opportunity/achievement you’ve had that you reached through your blog?

“The ability to inspire other women. There’s no accolade, amount of money, or experience more meaningful than being a positive force in the world. Success or wealth for me is measured in my ability to touch someone else’s life positively.” – Krystin Hargrove

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How do you make fashion relevant?  Why does fashion matter in DC?

“Everyone goes to work, has meetings, goes out on the weekends and wants to dress appropriately for the occasion. The political fundraiser, the Gold Cup, an appearance on Capitol Hill. We write about what to wear when, how to make the trends work for your life.” – Janet Kelly

“Being a personal style blogger, I can help make fashion seem more accessible to the everyday woman. People can actually see how I pair outfits together, find out where to purchase the pieces I’m wearing and are exposed to affordable fashion options, unlike some of the bigger fashion publications out there. D.C. has a reputation of not being the most stylish, fashion-forward city out there, and me and the other personal style bloggers are shaping the city’s fashion scene by inspiring the average woman to dress better and by covering fashion events in the area.” – Alicia Chew

“DC isn’t really known for fashion but the community here is ripe with creativity. I think DC still has a ways to go in establishing it’s fashion scene. What really matters is DC is a melting pot of people, who are willing to explore and showcase themselves through fashion. That’s who I am, a woman unafraid to express who I am. So relativity is debatable, I’m a creative, so I create.” – Kystin Hargrove

I had an awesome time meeting the “fashion-heads” of DC! Hope you enjoyed this post and check out the bloggers I mentioned!

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18 thoughts on “Capitalized Fashion

  1. Kelly B. says:

    I remember seeing these same exhibits when I was in DC! I agree, you would think DC is all politics at first, but it blends politics with so many other industries and that’s what truly makes DC such an awesome city!

  2. ahandfulofstories1 says:

    Great post, thank you for sharing all these insights. I live in Russia, which is widely considered to be an ill-dressed country (apart from a mere handful of people), so I know how going against the grain feels. And Moscow is politically oriented for sure, but lets not focus on the sad part… What’s good is young talents emerge every day, and we should empower them to pursue their (maybe unconventional) dreams.

  3. Sheela Goh says:

    Truly, fashion will always be relevant. It remains with the creative genius of a designer to identify which part of the puzzle that particular silhouette fits into, within that specific moment of the style cycle. Thank you for opening my eyes where DC is concerned. Like many others, I’ve never associated it with culture, art and fashion 🙂

    • tarahsaint says:

      It’s rare finding one interested in both politics and fashion! Thanks for commenting, Alys! I see you followed me on my social media handles…I just followed back! 🙂

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