Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Interview with Project Beltway

Today, I wanted to share with you the interview with Rachel Cothran, the writer of Project Beltway. I want to start off my saying that Rachel is one of the sweetest, most authentic people I have met in DC. My own personal opinion is that this authenticity is also prominent in the way she dresses - whenever I see her out (or see pictures of her on Facebook! or in Capitol File or in the Washingtonian or in . . .), she is almost always wearing an unbelievable vintage something or other. She rocks vintage garments, like no other - everything looks pulled together and modern, yet classic. We heart Rachel! (And, we think she is in NYC this week for Fashion week - how fun!)

  1. Tell us a bit about your blog. Project Beltway is an evolving creative endeavor. It started off as mainly a street-style blog, because that was what was inspiring me at the time (I launched in January 2007). Now it's a crazy jumbly mish-mash of style inspiration, rants and raves, event and street-style photos, and style-related event announcements in DC. I'm pretty committed to keeping it DC-focused because I think, and always have thought, that DC is probably one of the most interesting places to be writing and observing fashion and style. Our city is unlike any other, and the way we approach fashion is just as unique.
  2. Why did you start writing the blog in the first place? It seemed to me that there weren't enough people writing creatively about style and fashion here. It has been so exciting and rewarding to be a part of the growing interest in fashion in Washington. Blogs have been hugely instrumental in that.
  3. What do you enjoy most about writing about fashion/style? I think what I enjoy the most is having a space to explore what it means to carve out individual style. Writing the blog both inspires (discovering and being part of a community, finding my own creativeness) and challenges me (getting over the fear of having a public voice, finding a writing style) on a zillion different levels. It reminds me to have a bit more fun getting dressed. Clothes are just costumes like wine is just a bunch of mashed up grapes. When you subscribe too much to rules, you take away everything that's interesting and fun about fashion, and you run the risk of looking totally boring. Doing Project Beltway is a creative outlet that inspires me to be a more courageous dresser and person.
  4. Can you tell us what fashion trend(s) you really like for Fall 2008? Oh jeez. So many. I feel like I'm way more into fall this year that I have been in past seasons. I think a lot of that has to do with fashion getting more and more respect and attention, so more and more people are willing to seek out and buy interesting and unique clothes, so retail has responded accordingly. A short list of what I'm craving for fall: long leather gloves (J.Crew has them in three colors), exquisitely crafted lace (I was wary of the Prada show at first but now I'm obsessed), and statement necklaces. I wore one by local designer Julie Wolfe for my "Romper Room" shoot in DC Mag back in June. They are so easy to buy on the cheap, too. FW editor Jenn Barger wore a gorgeous purple jeweled one to their launch recently and I about fell over when she said it was from H&M.
  5. On the flip side, is there a style (i.e., pencil skirts, high heels, anything well-tailored) that you consider timeless – something that can last through years and seasons? A white button-down shirt tailored to your figure, black patent leather pumps, a trench coat, white linen pants and striped boatneck shirts for summer, and a black pencil skirt. Coco Chanel once said that all a woman truly needs is a pencil skirt; I like this one from Verrieres & Sako via original DC indie store Unsung Designers. I own their Double Collar Suit Dress and it manages to be both sophisticated and badass. I also think heirloom jewelery or any jewelery that you adore counts as classic. If you make something your signature, it will always be timeless.
  6. Many times, people shy away from buying more expensive or designer items because of the cost. However, a well-made piece of clothing, or pair of shoes, can last a really long time. Is there a designer or a label that you like to invest in for the cut/style/quality? Achem, well. I would not throw a Balenciaga or Hermes bag out of bed. It would be a bag for sure. I always seem to like the bags Boyy makes. Right now I'm obsessed with the simple styling and cool pocket watch-like chain on this one.
  7. Along with that, is there a piece of clothing that you have owned for a long time and are still devoted to? I'm a total sap when it comes to clothes that have memories attached to them. I still own a cheap and vaguely trashy polka-dot halter dress that I wore when I met my college boyfriend (his frat was hosting a party at what was once Zei Club....anyone remember that place?!). If there is one item of clothing that I am most devoted to though, it would be my vintage pink brocade swing coat with bead embellishment at the hem, placket and cuffs. I found it while I was living in a shack on the Outer Banks, at a vintage shop so randomly, bizarrely located that it may as well have been out of a Tim Burton movie. It was $70 which was a lot for a girl living off of Celeste Pizza For One. But I loved it, and that was that. In love and in clothes, you have to trust your gut when you find something wonderful. **pics attached** - look, me with hair!
  8. People are saying that "green is the new black" – what kind of things do you do in general to live a "greener" life? I buy vintage, I shop at local markets when I can, and I don't drive a ton. My dad has always been a stickler for what we now call green living, leftovers from family members living in the Depression: we've had solar panels on our roof for as long as I can remember, and my parents now use well water. He even takes military showers (you turn water off while you lather) and even saves thin slivers of soap to smush together to make a bar. He told me recently that if you run your dishwasher at night, it saves on energy costs. Because of him I'm anal about turning off lights when they're not in use.
    1. What have you found is the easiest thing(s) to do? (i.e., recycling, thrifting) I pretty much only buy thrift, vintage, or consignment clothing and accessories.
    2. Is there anything that you have found challenging? (i.e. driving less, traveling less) I'm pretty attached to having a car, unfortunately.


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