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.
Rodell Mollineau, Co-founder & Partner for leading public affairs firm, Rokk Solutions, is a top strategist with more than 15 years of experience developing national message campaigns, managing crises and leading high-level communications. A veteran of Capitol Hill, state government and electoral politics, he has provided strategic guidance to numerous elected officials, political candidates and organizations.
While all of that is impressive, I think what is most important is that Rodell Mollineau is one of the most fashionable Washingtonians I have ever met. I sat down with Rodell this week to learn about his views on fashion and style for men in DC.
Q: How did you become interested in fashion?
Rodell’s appreciation for fashion is a direct influence of his parents. He says his father, who passed in 2007, was one of the most well dressed men he’s ever known and his mom is not far-behind. He grew up in Ramsey, NJ and was primarily raised by his mother. She couldn’t get a babysitter every time she wanted to go out, so she would take Rodell shopping with her. “You wind up on many shopping trips that you don’t want to go on, but you know you get pizza and a milkshake as a reward” so that was incentive. Eventually the fashion itself became the incentive for Rodell. And of course Rodell was voted best dressed in high school as his senior superlative!
Q: What are your favorite fashion trends for fall?
“Fall is a hard season in Washington, DC,” due to the calendar proceeding the actual weather change, but fall is his favorite season for fashion and in general. Come mid-October he will be fashion ready as Rodell just got back from Italy where he was very into the plaids that are trending this fall for men. He purchased a pair of single-pleat, highwater style pants (what the men in Europe are wearing). Men have gone away from double-pleat to a slimmer, tailored look. The pants he purchased do have a cuff and he can let down the hem if they are too forward for DC. He says that “DC is always a “little” behind Europe, New York and California when it comes to fashion,” and I tend to agree with this assessment. I also asked him what other trends he saw in Europe and he also says that the sneaker game is strong. For example, a woman would wear a Valentino dress and high tops. Stan Smith Adidas style shoes are one of the most popular shoes he saw in Italy and a lot of Levis, however both cost around $100 Euros so its better to buy those American originated trends in America.
Q: If you do need to get those pants from Italy tailored, who do you recommend in DC? (A good tailor is hard to find!)
Christopher Kim Custom Tailor at 20th and M is his guy and you better not call him and make him too busy to see Rodell. Rodell advises all men see use a tailor, once again I agree with this sentiment and think women should also do the same. Rodell has been using a tailor since 2007 when he purchased two nice suits on sale at Barney’s New York. They were the nicest suits he had ever owned, but via Yelp found Christopher Kim who made them look like they were custom made for him.
Q: What advice can you offer to younger men just beginning their professional careers about dressing for the office in DC?
Rodell explains that when you are younger “you are forced to dress like an automaton. You don’t get a lot of flexibility.” He suggests that you want to earn respect and a reputation first for your work ethic and the intellectual value you bring to the table. “As you have more experience and are more respected in the work place you can get away with showing more flare.” He says you can still have style and that there are some great places in DC that are affordable for people who are just starting out, for example Suit Supply. He also suggests getting shirts custom made, as its inexpensive and the fit will make you look more stylish.
Q: Who are your DC fashion icons?
“Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is a really good dresser (he swears this answer has nothing and everything to do with having worked for him previously – spending so much time with him, he realized what a great dresser he is), Senator Orrin Hatch also has good style, Oh, and Jack Smith of Politico.”
Q: What is your best style advice?
“Build your wardrobe for the day around one thing. A tie, shirt, pocket square. You don’t want too much going on, especially for the boardroom or tv. And buy clothes that fit you.”
Q: What is the fashion dynamic at Rokk Solutions?
On Co-founder & Partner Ron Bonjean: “Game recognizes game.”
On third Co-founder & Partner Brian Walsh: both he and Ron are “trying to bring Walsh’s sock game along.”
I picked some socks for Brian Walsh here: