Clothing Design for Power Brokers

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

February 14, 2007

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What is the state of fashion in our nation's capital? Historically, it hasn't garnered much attention from serious fashion industry insiders. But fashion school graduates shouldn't remove Washington D.C. from their list of potentially hot clothing design markets.

It's not that Washingtonians don't care about the way they look. Indeed, they do very much. There's just an aesthetic that dominates their clothing design choices, one that may seem to limit the degree to which they experiment with trends and outlandish styles.

Washington's Conservative Roots
That sensibility may be rooted in a desire to reflect a certain seriousness, the kind associated with people in positions of high power and responsibility. People who are busy trying to ensure social security for future generations, limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and make sure we have clean air to breathe and water to drink. It's the antitheses of Hollywood or South Beach, where people find purpose in simply appearing sexy as they roller blade along a sun-drenched coast.

Clothing Design Choices of D.C.'s Most Powerful
So what kind of career in fashion could a fashion school graduate expect in the nation's capital? Perhaps one not rich in diversity, but brimming with opportunity. Consider all the diplomatic events, balls, receptions, and ceremonies held in D.C. year after year. Women need gowns, dresses, and suits to wear to these occasions, and they need smart fashion school graduates to fit them in beautiful, tasteful clothing designs.

From Jackie to Hillary
Make no mistake, you won't find any D.C. women sporting anything worn by Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez. However, there's room for some creativity. Just look at leading first ladies over the years. Jackie Kennedy set trends for women around the country, not just in Washington. Nancy Reagan also wasn't afraid to express her preference for luxury fashion. Hillary was chided for getting a new makeover every month. Washington women choose an understated kind of classic elegance over trends and fads. So if you want a career in fashion that's always testing the limits of fashion, D.C. probably isn't for you.

Your Career in Fashion
So if you're looking for a career in fashion that isn't too racy, that focuses on quality and luxury over trends and glitz, you might benefit from a post-fashion school move to Constitution Avenue.

About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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