Washington Wardrobe: Lisa Rowan

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Rowan

On Lisa Rowan’s blog Quarter Life: The Beltway’s Best Vintage and Thrift, she focuses on showing readers how to clothe themselves frugally and without filling landfills with cast-off fast fashions. Judging by some of her posts, buying vintage and thrifted leaves plenty of money in the budget for a busy schedule of cocktail parties and events around town.

This month, Lisa is teaming with Sisarina and Jobsessed to present an event they are calling Fancy Little Things. In the back-to-school and work spirit of September, this fall fashion swap encourages women to prune their professional wardrobes and exchange their garments for someone else’s. Likely to be a particular boon to recent graduates with their first office that requires dressing up, anyone can benefit from emptying their closet of good garments they just do not wear and replacing them with something they might.

You might look for Lisa’s help if you find yourself overwhelmed at the swap or on your next thrifting mission – she has a knack for pulling the clothes that fit her style from a variety of sources. “Whether I’m shopping new or vintage, I’m drawn to clean lines, subtle details, and crisp fabrics.”

It is often cited that the average person only wears about 20% of the wardrobe they own, while the other 80% languishes in the back of the closet. Because Lisa’s swap is all about clearing out the stuff you do not wear and finding affordable, quality pieces you will, she seemed like a perfect person to be the first to give us her Washington Wardrobe Essentials – the five items that form the building blocks of her personal uniform.

Lisa’s Five Wardrobe Essentials:

Lisa Rowan

Lisa Rowan. Click through for product details on Polyvore.

1. Black T-Shirt – “I actually love Forever 21 for basic black crew- and scoop-neck tees. They’re like 5 bucks and they’ve lasted through the many washes and wears I’ve subjected them to. People say black is boring, but I say black is essential. If you’re stumped, start with a basic black tee. The rest of the outfit will come.”

2. Pencil Skirt – “It’s a classic shape that looks great in nearly every color and fabric. Modest, but sexy.”

3. Scarves – “Worn for décor, warmth, or sometimes as a giant belt, I have plenty of scarves. They’re also great for hauling veggies home from farmers markets. And for covering your hair during windy convertible rides, which, really, I should be taking more often.”

4. Patent Leather Shoes – “Flats and pumps, for plenty of options. I have five pairs. It’s still not enough.”

5. Oversized Handbag or Tote – “The Girl Scouts taught me well. I’m prepared for just about anything.”

Thanks, Lisa!

Disclaimer: Lisa Rowan is a community manager for TBD.com, a network of which this site is a member. This in no way affected our coverage of Ms. Rowan’s fashionable life.

Know someone stylish who should be featured here? Be they a blogger, shopkeeper, designer, or just a great-dressed-person, I want to look inside their closet! — Brittany

Brittany has tried to leave DC, it just never lasts. She has lived in Chicago, California, and China – but she always comes back home. Brittany is a drinks, nightlife, and style correspondent for We Love DC. Between columns, you can find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or standing by the bar. Email her at brittany(at)welovedc.com.

6 thoughts on “Washington Wardrobe: Lisa Rowan

  1. I do hope that some of your features here will include plus-sized-friendly topics/people/etc. Whether we’re working off the extra pounds or not, women and men of the bigger sizes want tips and articles we can relate to, too.

  2. @Carol: I will be delighted to do that.

    I did not mention above, but if you look at the website for the swap Lisa is involved in, they are proactively interested in swappers of all sizes – so that may be of interest.

    Down the road, I am actually hoping that Christina from the popular & local Musings of a Fatshionista will appear in this column soon. If you know of other people, events, etc I should cover, you can email me at brittany [at] welovedc.com.

    Thank you!

  3. Yes! The more sizes the better. We think there will be something for everyone, and having some accessories and shoes available should help with that.

    Over time, I’ve observed that vintage is hard to find if you can’t squeeze into one of the teeny-tiny sizes from back in the day. But, thrift stores are full of plus-size-friendly items. You can really find some amazing items in a wide range of sizes.

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  5. Just wanted to add a few things about shoes:
    1) when you buy vintage shoes know that the sizes can run small.
    2)If vintage shoes are in decent shape but the heels or soles are badly worn, you can always have a cobbler resole them.
    3)You can also swap vintage (and all) shoes at http://www.IfTheShoeDoesntFit.com the auction site for shoe lovers (in case you can’t make the event).

  6. I agree with Lisa’s list of essentials (though I still can’t get the hang of wearing scarves). The Goodwills in Northern Virginia are especially good– I recently bought a lovely Benetton skirt, Ann Taylor wool pants and knit top, and a Gap skirt (all in mint condition) for $17.

    Ellen, I love vintage shoes (I have tiny feet and have trouble finding my size in normal stores), but cobblers are extremely expensive. If you’re traveling to a developing country, or know someone who is, have your shoes repaired over there and you’ll save yourself $50 or so.