Fashionably Famous: Bipartisan for the Course
By Politiquette’s Marissa Mitrovich: Politiquette is a place to be inspired by the art of fashion. Readers gain an understanding of the politics of why to wear–and the etiquette of when to wear–specific styles. Marissa Mitrovich founded Politiquette with the goal of bringing further substance to the dialogue surrounding style in DC.
While Congress has been away the women of D.C. politics are working on their golf game both on and off the course. On Wednesday, Kate Mills, Monument Policy Group, and Karissa Wilhite, Ogilvy Government Relations, hosted a bipartisan Sip ‘n Shop at Gals on and off the Green in Chevy Chase. The event was an opportunity for many of the very busy and successful females who work in government affairs to catch up with colleagues and shop for stylish golf fashions. Other notables in attendnace include: Alissa Wilcox, Ogilvy Government Relations; Michelle King, King Consulting; Katreice Banks, AT&T; Lily Goldstein, The JBG Companies
Gals on and off the Green was founded by Jackie Sorrenti and is a premier women’s golf shop that has been successful due to their “vast selection of sizing.” When Jackie was new to golf and couldn’t find fashion, especially fashion she felt confident wearing. Jackie told me that she is not just selling apparel, but selling “confidence for women.” She began her business twelve years ago and now has three physical storefronts on the East Coast, as well as an online presence. Her business has driven the golf apparel industry to change their product and design clothing for all women.
I had the opportunity to talk with Kate and Karissa about the event, their experience with the sport and of course golf fashion. Full disclosure I don’t play, but these women make me want to get out on the course with them, especially if I can be fashionable for the experience!
Q: How did you become interested in and how long have you been golfing?
KM: I’ve been golfing off and since I was about 10. My dad was a big golfer and wanted all of his daughters to play. So, while I’ve been playing for a long time, it’s always been inconsistent. Since leaving the Hill and the Administration I’ve had a bit more time to play and while I’m still not as good as I want to be, I’m enjoying playing with a great group of women of various skill levels.
KW: I took my first golf lessons at Hains Point many years ago, but working on the Hill meant I didn’t get to play very much. I thought it would be something fun that my husband and I could do together.
Q: You started an unofficial women’s golf group, what types of professions are represented by these women in and how did this group evolve?
KW: When I left the Hill a couple of years ago and began playing in more work-related golf tournaments, I noticed that very smart, talented friends of mine and other women lobbyists were at companies who sponsored foursomes, but more times than not, the ladies opted to just drive the cart because they weren’t comfortable playing. At that point, I began organizing outings for beginner-to-intermediate ladies to encourage them to get out and learn to play with women just like them—it’s a safe space without intimidation or judgment because you’re all in the same boat. Since we started, we’ve had lessons with golf pros at Hains Point, we’ve been to Top Golf for a fun social event, and we’ve even done a clinic and 9-holes at a local private club to get on-the-course experience.
Q: Golf has historically been a male dominated sport, but more and more women are swinging a golf club. Do you think the golf fashion for women is beginning to evolve as well?
KM: Most definitely! For a long time women were really limited to the boxy men’s golf shirt styles and ill-fitting pants and shorts. And while navy, khaki, black, and white used to be the extent of options out there, I think the industry recognizes that the number of women golfing is growing and that it was a previously untapped market. Gals On and Off the Green really demonstrates that the market has changed – their selection is incredible.
KW: Yes, it definitely is. Not only in variety but also functionality. We saw that Wednesday at Gals on and off the Green. At most pro shops, there are limited options for women, but Gals on and off the Green has a huge selection of stylish, functional golf attire. And the staff is very helpful and interested in helping you find the perfect piece for your unique look.
Q: You hosted a Sip ‘n Shop at Gals on and off the Green in Chevy Chase on Wednesday afternoon, what was the genesis of this event and who attended?
KM: During one of the recent golf outings organized by Karissa, a number of ladies didn’t have anything to wear and bought shirts the day of the event at the pro shop. While the shirts were fine, the pro shop had a very limited selection of styles and sizes. At the recommendation of a family friend, I called Gals On and Off the Green to see if there was some sort of event we could hold for our group. Jackie, the store owner, recommended a Sip ‘n Shop as a way to give our group time to really browse and try on the golf clothes. Given that it is recess, it was a little easier to schedule something in August and it is perfect timing for all the fall golf tournaments. Karissa reached out to her golf group and I contacted the golfers in Women in Government Relations and the Women’s Congressional Golf Association notified their members. We had a good group of bipartisan women from the government relations industry plus a few others!
Q: Gals on the Green offers clothing in sizes up to 22. They are very cognizant that athletic women aren’t all one size. Do you feel like this is a rare approach for a golf fashion retailer or fashion retailers in general?
KM: I think the industry is changing as it recognizes that the market is changing, unfortunately, it’s not happening fast enough. What’s great about Gals On and Off the Green is that they really know the golf fashion industry and know which designers fit the best for your body type and your personal style.
KW: Yes, they really do go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome and find options that work for you. And they encourage you to try things you’ve never considered before. It’s the largest women’s golf and active wear store I’ve seen, and if they don’t have something in stock, they will order it and ship it directly to you.
Q: What are your favorite of-the-moment female golf fashion trends?
KM: I was excited to see so many options in golf dresses and ones that are tall enough for women over 5’5”! I’ve tried unsuccessfully for the last two years to find one and at Gals On and Off the Green it was the first thing I tried on and bought. I also like the trend for golf clothes that can make the transition off the course. When you finish playing, it’s nice to be able to go into the clubhouse in something that you would feel comfortable wearing out to dinner- the pieces are really trending towards transitional.
KW: There was a lot of conversation coming out of the dressing rooms at the event about the stereotypical “pretty in pink” options versus a classic black and beige palette. I love the fact that there are some many options now between all Barbie pink and the boxy men’s polo. Women now have so many functional, yet feminine and professional, yet comfortable options.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about the event or golf fashion?
KM: Given the success of this event, we hope to have another event with Gals On and Off the Green this year and draw from a larger group of women, probably around the fall golf tournaments.
KW: I would highly recommend Gals on and off the Green for anyone looking for fun and functional golf clothing and accessories (gloves, bags, etc). Regardless of age or shape, they have something for you.
And to all the lady golfers (or aspiring golfers) out there, I say go out there and own it…own your game, own your look. You can find inexpensive lessons and clinics at the public park courses with great pros and build enough confidence to go out and play in no time.