"I think the perception in Washington... historically has been that if you care too much about the way you look, then you can't be taken seriously," London said during a stop at SimplySoles in the Shops at Georgetown Park.
But she also thinks that's changing, citing the current administration, the D.C. "Housewives" stars -- "I'm not gonna lie" -- and her friend Ted Gibson, the celeb hairstylist who cuts and coifs on London's TLC show with co-star Clinton Kelly, "What Not to Wear." Gibson's not just a New York and Hollywood staple anymore -- he opened a salon in Chevy Chase last year.
"There's a much more style-savvy kind of person that's coming up in D.C., not related to politics," London said. "There's a lot more going on related to image and style, than just that idea of the politician in the blue suit with the red tie."
"I feel like this is a great testbed for us... to show people what's available to them, to look modern, to not fall back on these antiquated ideas that you have to look a certain way in order to be taken seriously," London said. "People seem to forget that looking like you haven't updated your style in 20 years isn't the most effective way to be taken seriously, either."
Following London's standing rule to "shop your closet," many of the Style for Hire stylists are encouraging people to mix high- and low-end items.
"I love mixing H&M pieces with Dolce & Gabbana -- finding great, cheap-chic bargains," said Style for Hire's Kara Allen, of Fairfax Station, Va. Allen practices what she preaches; she was sporting a gorgeous, drape-y green dress from Forever 21. She'd paid $30 for it and had it professionally tailored. However, her towering gladiator booties were a splurge.
"Coming out of the recession, we're seeing people have a new understanding of the way to spend money," London said. "You don't have to spend a ton of money to look good."
While London would like to see simple risks happening -- "like a colored shoe with a black dress" -- she said that people need to focus on fit.
"It's astounding to me how few people understand how clothes need to fit them. If something doesn't fit right, that doesn't mean it needs to stay in your closet that way," she said. "You have control over your clothing -- and that's what tailors are for!"
London cited SimplySoles (3222 M St. N.W., 2nd floor) and Urban Chic (1626 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.) as some of her fave spots to shop in D.C. She said she tries to get to Ann Taylor in any city she visits.
"The thing that's really frustrating to me is that you have everything here. You have Intermix [3222 M St. N.W.], you have everything here you would need to have a city with great style, and yet, there's this antiquated notion of colored suits and pleated khakis," London said. "So it's time to shake the city up a little bit. I hope that people find a new way of doing things -- maybe like a flat-front khaki."
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