Washington DC style is conservatively trendy. I grew up in Washington and the style of natives is quintessential North East trad/prep chic. Hardly any girlfriends of mine even knew how to put make-up on senior year of high school. The style was very much an easy breezy natural Americana. DC’s general culture is heavily influenced by the professional character of the city, many people’s being employed in staid jobs as attorneys, federal office workers, and other supporting industries which call for an austerity to workplace fashion.
Nonetheless the DC yuppie, due to her age still longs to express herself fashionably. Given her lifestyle, though, she cannot go full-on couture like her friends in New York or LA. There is a slight international influence due to the high population of diplomats, consulates and other foreign workers. And certainly, perhaps more in-step with trends, would be the urban style of some DC natives. Practically speaking Washingtonians adhere to the classics because it’s acceptable career gear and for busy folks Ralph Lauren and J. Crew can be a mindlessly chic uniform! Those who’ve struck the perfect balance have outfits fit for work but also trendy enough for happy hour or dinner after.
- When choosing a suit, pay attention to the blazer. If you can find a blazer that is not too boxy and that is obviously meant for professional wear, you can use this same blazer as a cool menswear accessory.
- Patterned tights can help add an ultra chic look to any demure work outfit. Polka dots, pointelle, or vintage style hose work well.
- Fashion staples should include one highly luxurious item such as an heirloom luxury watch, grandmother’s diamond earrings, or a Prada bag. Extra points for passed down luxury items as this speaks to the old wealthy WASP culture of DC! This one haute couture staple is more than enough for conservative Washington to be considered highly fashionable!
- Current trends are a funny thing to talk about in Washington. I cannot stress the love for trad style here. Whenever I go home, as I live in Los Angeles now, it is as though nothing has changed. The only trend here if you want to look like a local are office shirts and pearls.
What to Wear
- Casual Outfit for Site-seeing: Chambray shirt with sleeves rolled up, chino shorts, bright-colored boat shoes, beautifully-printed tote.
- Dressier Outfit for a Nice Lunch: Don’t forget a large, good quality leather bag big enough to hold your smart phone, a bottle of water, metro card, and book for the train.
- Nightlife Outfit: A little black dress is all you need to wear in a city where not many dress to impress.
May kicks off cherry blossom season with an average high of 74 degrees F (24 degrees C) and a low of 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). This kind of weather calls for light layers to protect against the chilly early morning and evening hours – make sure you bring a jacket. And an umbrella and wellies! May…