Friday, March 30, 2012

MSL Presents Spring 2012 Trends "Runway to Realway" Benefit Dress for Success

What do professional women do with their retired office ensembles? One local organization hopes to benefit. That is what Dress for Success did last Thursday, when several law professionals from Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft LLP donated their gently used suits, shoes, and accessories. This was the second annual giving spree the law firm has hosted benefiting DFS. The organization prepares low-income women re-entering the workforce with attire, resume building and interview practice. But more than that, the women receive invaluable lifeskills and renewed sense of confidence and high self-esteem.

Part of the evening called for a style presentation in the spirit of dressing responsibly. I had the honor of presenting my spring 2012 picks from "runway to realway." All the clothes and accessories selected were from designers and/or brands, several of whom are DC-based, that have pledged to social responsibility.

Crisp Whites


Amina wears A.D.O. 100% organic cotton blazer and 100% Peace silk pencil skirt; Adolfo Dominguez sleeveless cotton top and Calamarie cylinder braided necklace.

Perfect Pleats

Samantha Pleet

Lyndsay sports a gorgeous pleated dress by Adolfo Dominguez. Accessories by Nora Fischer Designs.

Pastel Confection

3.1 Phillip Lim

Perline, a DFS client, looks sweetly confectionate (I think I just made us a new word!) in this baby blue pleated wrap skirt by Kim Schalk (DC-based designer, website coming soon!) and graphic print silk scarf by Adolfo Dominguez. Calamarie ring.

Grecian Goddess


Amina evokes her inner goddess in this svelte grecian maxi dress by Kim Schalk. Metal and leather belt by Kim Schalk.

Tangerine Tango

Derek Lam

Michelle attends a summer BBQ in these floral tangerine capris by Adolfo Dominguez. Ruffle top (100% organic cotton) by A.D.O. Nora Fischer Designs jewelry.

Group Photo (all photos by Phil Kogan Photography)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fashion Fights Poverty Annual Dress Responsibly Gala

Since 2005, Fashion Fights Poverty has brought ethical fashion to DC through educational programs and runway shows. I have been honored to help behind the scenes on several of their shows over the years and am excited to moderate their next forum on April 20th.

On March 31, the volunteer-run organization returns with its Annual Dress Responsibly Gala at Artisphere. On the heels of the NICE Consumer Project hosted by Business for Social Responsibility, the gala reinforces the fashion industry’s environmental impact and puts a spotlight on those designers committed to a low carbon footprint. This year, the event promises a cadre of talented designers, both local and international, proving eco-fashion is equally innovative and luxurious.

How does poverty factor into the equation? Designers who adhere to fair trade principles employ local craftsman and artisans at a fair wage, which may lead to economic development, skill-building and community empowerment. Fashion Fights Poverty has recently partnered with Detroit Lives, a non-profit addressing Detroit’s apparel manufacturing.

The gala will feature a fashion show and presentations by Project Runway Season 7 winner, Seth Aaron Henderson; renewable fabric apparel designer, Earthtec; EcoArtFashion founder, Luis Valenzuela Tara St. James (Study NY); local DC metro area designers, Laura Williams and Ginger Root; NY-based sustainable fabric lingerie designer, Daisy & Elizabeth; LA-based eco-friendly designer, LAVUK; Canadian swimwear and apparel designer, Ashley Zaba; vegan shoes and bag designer Cri-de-Ceour; and animal activist and creator of the "12 in 12 for 12" campaign, Gabby Wild. (recycled paper dress shown in invite); 2011 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Designers Award recipient,

Tickets: $75 General and $150 VIP,

Donations Wanted: As you attack your closet for an annual spring cleaning, kindly consider donating your gentle used items to a shelter. Martha’s Table is in need of men’s clothing and shoes and women’s spring clothing. Location: 2114 14th Street Northwest Washington, DC 20009

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eco-Chic Styles for the Full-Figured Woman

As a fashion stylist, I have had the pleasure of dressing women of all shapes and sizes over the past five years. Many of them seek my services because shopping conjures feelings of frustration and anxiety over fit. Others simply don’t have the time or stamina to search for those quality pieces. I step in by providing a roadmap to finding styles that complement their figure and lifestyle.

However, what tends to present the greatest challenge is the client, male or female, who wants to invest in an eco-friendly wardrobe. I actually get quite giddy when I receive such inquiries because conscious fashion is at the heart of my styling business. I embarked on this journey with the intent of educating consumers on the source of their garments, to present eco-styles that are equally innovative, chic, and modern without compromising the planet and the garment worker who produce them.

Despite my intentions, I am disheartened by the limited options for sizes greater than a 10 and found in a store near you. With the exception of Eileen Fisher (and I am fully aware that not every woman is an Eileen Fisher woman), the Internet holds the best chance for scoring a custom-made and/or full range of sizes. Green blogger, Green Gretchen, offers a comprehensive list of online designers. Search eco-fashions for plus size women and Etsy delivers a plethora of options.

Just for sake of clarification, “eco-fashion” can mean the type of material (reclaimed, organic cotton, tencel, soy, bamboo, hemp, and milk, yes even milk!) to vintage (preferably custom-made rather than a mass-produced item 20 years ago) to custom-made using high quality fabrics by an independent designer who applies a no-waste policy.

Another point of clarification is that eco-fashion caters solely to loose-fitting, yoga-inspired, loungewear. There is definitely a place for such styles such as actually doing yoga but pioneers in eco-design such as Linda Loudermilk, Stewart + Brown, Stella McCartney and Organic by John Patrick prove otherwise. Their vision opens the market for a breadth of styles that speak to your personality.

For the woman who seeks comfort in a loungewear-inspired style, go no further than Indigenous Designs. The fair trade, all organic collection puts the comfort in ready-to-wear. On their Website they have a helpful size chart to take the guesswork out of it.

For the professional woman who needs a bit more structure in her wear, check out collections by Canadian designers Diane Kennedy and Chloe Angus, and Rawganique. Their attention to detail combined with eco-luxe materials yield a message of self-empowerment and sophistication.

Of course, clothes account for part of an ensemble. Vegan shoe designer Olsen Haus and Neuaura include up a size 12. Accessories and handbags add panache to any outfit. My favorites: Jewelry designers - Calamarie, Monique Pean (Website to be relaunched soon!), AK Vintage and handbags by Matt and Nat, Gunas, and Susan Nichole.

If you have a favorite plus size eco-designer, I would love to know. Please send me your suggestion to Katherine@mysignaturelook.

Image: Dress by Chloe Angus