05/01/2012 05:42 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

D.C.: A Think Tank of Fashion

I went to D.C. this past weekend to check out what was going on with the fashion scene surrounding the White House Correspondents Dinner. Considering Georgetown still wears seersucker year round or double-collar-up polo shirts... I kind of expected a time capsule. There was a huge celebrity push this year but what was more fascinating was the locals -- we know what the celebrities wear. What I found were people who were hardworking and smart that appreciated fashion but in no way let it get in the way of their focus: think tanks.

I heard more rumblings about think tanks than anyone commenting on a pop color or wearing a ridiculously tall shoe. Party hopping in D.C. has a certain high school feel but in the best way... and unlike fashion circles, everyone was positive and less catty. Driving around such a patriotic city as D.C., you kind of feel like all these people are your brothers and sisters so why would you tear them apart for their fashion choice -- Joan Rivers doesn't come here with Fashion Police for a reason. D.C. is a southern city at heart and there is still a genuine southern hospitality. So while I was observing this Ellis Island of fashion I didn't want to look anyone up and down or try and take their picture for a blog; I just wanted to talk to them. Turns out really smart, successful women and men who don't work in fashion have the same exact issues as their fashion counterparts.

So rather than call anyone out (except for my DC fashion crush but I'm too cool to mention her by name), I thought I'd offer some solutions to a few situation rooms I saw:

  • If you invested in a Herve Leger bandage dress a few summers ago and you're trying to justify the price by wearing it again. Try thinking of it as a foundation and layer it with a full skirt and lofty cashmere.
  • Strappy heels and hosiery don't often work. Try a peep toe with a bit of platform to support the ball of your foot so that you don't end up walking around on those party floors barefoot. For day, try a simple pointy toe slingback with a kitten heel -- looks good with everything.
  • Save all dresses that are mid-thigh for the Caribbean or Vegas. If you have to go there and it requires a spray tan then it's too much work -- of course there are exceptions to every rule and she knows who she is.
  • Cheap jersey: If it feels like a flame would melt this fabric onto your arm, then don't buy it. Go for natural materials such as cotton, silk or cashmere. The drape and sheen are softer on natural fabrics and hide more.
  • if you are still working a bow tie other than with a tux, try muted colors that don't scream dandy.

Other than a minority of fashion faux pas, the D.C. fashion scene is growing and refreshing. However you slice up the community there are people working all sorts of decades and countries into a few square miles and it makes for a great fashion show. I'm looking forward to my next visit to D.C. and my next invite to a D.C. fashion think tank.