You used to work at the State Department. That must give you insight into how to dress in D.C.
If my former boss calls me and needs to dress for State Department meetings with Beijing, I know how to dress her, or if she’s going to the White House Correspondents Dinner, I know how to dress her, because I’ve been in the environment.
How can women dress appropriately without being dull?
The key is to know what to avoid. For instance, anything that you would wear for a sexy date night with your husband or girlfriend, stay away from that. Play with hemlines and necklines and things.
What could that mean for a formal event like the White House Correspondents Dinner?
You do a cobalt blue, simple long gown, but you add maybe some studded, funky heels so that when you’re walking, you see a peep of metallic studs popping out. Or you do something with your handbag. You do the cobalt blue dress with a gorgeous fuchsia handbag.
What are some black-tie fashion faux pas?
Cleavage is still a no-no at any of these formal events. You don’t want to be busting out. That’s one of the faux pas, along with short hemlines. Length is key. Miniskirts are for nightclubs. Whenever I go to a formal event, I think to myself, “I could run into a senator, I could run into George Clooney.” You never know who you’re going to see.
Well, if you run into Clooney, you might want the miniskirt.
Yeah, you’re right. That would be the best night ever.
What are your go-to shops for formal wear?
If it’s somebody who’s looking to spend a lot but not crazy, Mazza Gallerie and Tysons Galleria have Saks and Neimans. Hu’s Wear — Marlene [Hu Aldaba] is the owner and she’ll get in really beautiful stuff that other places don’t carry.
What’s a must-have for men?
A colorful pair of loafers. Too often you see men wearing tan and black and white. So a colorful pair of loafers that matches their personality. And then of course a very tailored men’s suit in a neutral color.
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