Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Capitol of Frump

I went to see a play at the Kennedy Center recently. A building named after one of the most debonair and handsome presidents should make folks want to gussy it up, right? I was there during the holidays with my mom and my sisters.  We love an event like this.  My mom rose to the occasion in a creamy silk blouse, Chanel Red lipstick, a pencil skirt and her new black boots.  My sisters and I also picked out something glam and spent a little time in front of the mirror before we left the house.  We felt a little giddy as we stepped into the wide, red-carpeted halls with sweeping Potomac views and cascades of chandeliers.  We were all dressed up for the party and ready to see and be seen. Not so much the case with our fellow theatre-goers.  There were people there in jeans.  Mom jeans.  And I spotted a fanny pack. And polyesther. And someone actually eating a granola bar sitting on the floor.  (I'm not making this up!) My heart sank.

Why do Washingtonians think it's okay to look like rumpled frumps in public? I have no problem if you want to roll out of bed on a Sunday morning dressed like Maude and read the paper all day...hell, who doesn't?  But for the love of all that is civilized, is it really so much trouble to spruce up when attending an event at the the freakin' KENNEDY CENTER?  Therefore, I offer this:

Dear fellow Washingtonian: by sprucing up I don't mean putting on that mothball-y get up from a sale at Garfinkles in 1982.  Or those scuffed up Easy Spirit loafers you wear on the Metro every day.  Those went out of style when Calvin Coolidge left office. I'm sorry, but your manner of dress is an embarasment to our fine city. We've got drama, power, monuments and museums and the best you can do is show up in...this?

Beautiful people like Clooney and Jolie come here from Hollywood to advocate for vegan rights or whatever and must not know what to make of us. Surely they go home and snicker that we are a town full of frumpy old fuddy duds.  That's embarrassing.  I'm not proposing we turn into a bunch of fake, spray tanned Barbies, but I think we could stand to make a little more effort. Take a cue from our international friends here in DC.  Have you SEEN some of the ambassadors and diplomats that live here?  Hot. Stylish. Of course, they are super smart and influential and all that stuff we value so highly here...but they're also not afraid to look good.  Look at some of our own.  Michelle Obama clearly has a sense of style and wears pretty things and nobody thinks less of her.  Everyone knows she's more than biceps and nice dresses.  She's doing all she can but the rest of us have to step it up too if we are going to get any respect as a city with style.

Washingtonian, the way you dress screams "I don't care. I'm so clever, connected, irreverent, above everyone that my looks don't matter." Or maybe you're just clueless and need someone like me to shop with.  Look, smarty, I know you were the Valedictorian of your school and all, but so was pretty much everyone else that lives here except me. This joint attracts the best and brightest.  But that doesn't mean you rest on those laurels.  That's just lazy. Frankly,  I'm tired of getting all glammed up and excited about going to the Kennedy Center only to see you show up in your jeans and a fanny pack. I promise you nobody will take you less seriously at that government job of yours if you pretty it up a little.  Maybe, just maybe, they'll take you MORE seriously.  At a minimum they won't want to look away.  Like they do when you sport that pair of LL Bean trousers and that ill-fitting blob of sweater.  You don't have to go all Linsey Lohan, just put on something a little more feminine for starters.  Look for fabrics that feel good.  No, not sweatpant material. Anything cashmere-y, viscose-y, soft. Things that lay nicely on your body (yes you have more than a brain!) and fit well.  Anything BUT polyesther and wool for chrissakes.

It's not enough to wear a Talbots suit and a brooch.  You are not Madeline Albright. Girl is so badass she can rock the brooch.  The rest of us have to work a little harder. We wear a different pin on our lapel every day and we and look like a daft schoolmarm.  Albright's above having to have a cool hair cut too. You are not.  So ask someone who has a cool haircut where they got it and go there immediately. You look like Margaret Thatcher. (Another badass lady who could wear whatever she damn well pleased.) You reach Madeline Albright or Margaret Thatcher status and you can go back to whatever sack you are currently wearing and that bob you've had since your days at Brown. But for now, as long as you are pushing paper at the Department of Whatever, you need to kick it up a notch.

Look, I know it's hard stepping out of your comfort zone.  I get that.  I feel that way every time I'm forced to talk politics or sports at a party.  But I do it anyway and act like I care because it's important to those I'm around.  Maybe I don't care much about politics or sports, but I do care about the people I'm with.  Sometimes I even enjoy the conversation somewhat and learn a little something.  So, do me a favor. See what happens when you ditch the dumpy look and present yourself in a way that shows the rest of us you care.  If Susan Boyle can do it, I know you can.  If you need help, meet me at Tyson's on Tuesday and we'll do some damage.