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Fashionably Famous: The Stylish Sarah Zlotnick

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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.

Every year Washingtonian features ten of the most stylish people in D.C.  While they are recognized for the fashionable clothing they wear, the innovative and cool work they are doing in the city also plays a role in their selection.  The 2016 list was published in the September issue of the magazine and a fashionable celebration for these “Style Setters” as Washingtonian calls them was held last Thursday evening at CityCenterDC.  I had the opportunity to talk to the very cool and stylish Sarah Zlotnick, Fashion Editor of Washingtonian, to learn more about what it is to be a “Style Setter” and to talk other exciting things fashion related.

How long have you been the Fashion Editor at Washingtonian and how did you end up with this position?

This is actually my second time around with Washingtonian, and I’ve been in my current position for just under two years. I interned at Washingtonian all through my senior year of college, and they offered me a full-time position when I graduated. I was originally a web editor, but most of my stories revolved around fashion so they eventually promoted me to an associate fashion editor position. From there, I left to do wedding editorial stuff at WeddingWire for a few years. When Washingtonian needed a new editor for the bridal magazine (Washingtonian Bride & Groom), they called me back. At Washingtonian, bridal editor and fashion editor are paired titles — the same person is responsible for both beats.

Being named a Washingtonian Style Setter is quite an honor. Can you provide some history on this best dressed list and share why you think this it has been so successful?

I’m so glad you think it’s an honor! It’s certainly a fun list to research. We’ve done several different iterations of the Style Setters list over the years. The unique thing about Washington is that people here aren’t getting dressed solely for the sake of getting dressed. Our fashion-lovers love fashion, but they’re super aware of how their image impacts their cause/hustle/whatever it is they’re out there trying to get done, and accomplishing their goals trumps looking cool. Amy Baier said it better in this issue than anyone ever has: “I want to look good when I go out, but I’m going out for a purpose.”

I think the Style Setters list is successful because we really zero in on those folks — the folks who manage to slay with their wardrobe in a way that doesn’t detract from the work they’re doing. And when it comes to fashion in Washington, that’s what everyone wants to know — how to dress well while still being taken seriously.

What is the process for selecting Style Setters?

We take a ton of factors into consideration when selecting the honorees for this list, and it actually stretches far beyond wardrobe. Age, occupation, the cool stuff you’re doing in your life — we take all of that into account, and then try to highlight the best mix of all the different vibes happening in the city that year. We specifically don’t call it “Washingtonian’s Best Dressed List” because, ultimately, we’re recognizing our honorees for the cool stuff they do while being truly singular in the way they get dressed for doing it.

It’s also important to me to showcase all the different types of styles that run through Washington. On this year’s list, Timothy Lowery is classic to a T, Amy Baier is fierce and a little sexy, and Michael Dumlao is a true androgynous visionary. Everyone on this list has very different aesthetics, but no aesthetic is more “Washington” than the other.


Washingtonian recognized Timothy Lowery, General Manager of CityCenterDC, as one of the best dressed.  Do you think this shopping center has impacted people’s interest in fashion in DC?

Ah, Timothy. He has perhaps the most pressure-packed spot on this year’s list because, while he is impeccably dressed and groomed himself, he’s also the honoree most directly impacting the fashion scene here in DC. Luxury stores are nothing new to the Washingtonians that can afford them — this is very wealthy city — but I think City Center will change the outsider’s perspective of our city. New Yorkers, West Coasters, and Europeans in town for business trips will see City Center and realize Washington is ready to keep pace with them in the luxury realm. 

As a fashion journalist particularly interested in the business side of things, it is also majorly meaningful to me to see brands like Dior and Louis Vuitton take an interest. If they’re confident enough to set up shop downtown, that says volumes about their confidence in the economy of our city.

I saw photos from the event to celebrate your Style Setter list and I feel like the crowd was surprisingly fashion forward. Do you think it was for the event or are people in DC really beginning to push the envelope when it comes to fashion?

Everyone getting dressed for a fashion party is going to get dressed for a fashion party. So you probably saw some risks that people might not have taken at other events, for sure. But at the same time, these are all real people that really live here and pulled from their own closets to get ready for the night. This crowd has always been here in Washington and they’ve always had this much fun with fashion. I don’t think we’re in any special moment of people being especially well dressed, but perhaps with non-stop social media these days it’s easier to see. 

You grew up in the D.C. area, have you noticed any changes in DC fashion over the years?

I did grow up here! And I went to college here as well — Hoya Saxa, baby! More and more young people are moving to DC, and that population is naturally inclined to dress less conservatively. It’s important to note they are not moving here because it’s become more fashionable — they’re moving here for jobs and quality of life. But in moving here, they are naturally driving the progressive image of the city forward.

What are your favorite fall/winter trends for DC’s women and men?

Women: Pom pom shoesfurry shoes, and exaggerated bell sleeves.

Note from MM – *I LOVE furry shoes by LF too and they are 25% off now here.

Men: the minimalist street wear-y thing Carl MaynardTamon GeorgeGary Williams document so meticulously on Instagram.

Anything else you would like to add on fashion, style setters, Washingtonian?

Thanks for thinking of Washingtonian!