Faux Pas: The Rules of Early Spring Style

For the third day in a row, the temperatures will climb to the low-70s.  (Please take a moment to do a happy dance.  Finished?  Good.) While I welcome these warmer temperatures and hope the sunshine and low-humidity continues, I find that the appearance of sunny weather leaves many Washingtonians in a fashion conundrum.  Thus, Capitol Hill Style presents the dos and don’ts of early-Spring style.

Put the Flip Flops Away Just because it’s 70 doesn’t mean that you can break out last year’s dirty, worn-out Havianas.  Okay?  Your ugly, calloused, pale feet should not be seen until April 1, at a minimum.  I saw more unshaven, un-pedicured feet yesterday than I have seen in years and the experience is likely to put me into therapy.

If you want to give me the best early-Christmas present ever, you can just stop wearing flip flops to work.  Even if it’s just for your commute, it’s still not professional. 

Today, I saw a woman in a gorgeous red Burberry trench and a navy sheath headed into Longworth.  I was about to compliment her stunning gold statement necklace when I saw the white and pink hibiscus printed, plastic flip-flops on her feet.  It broke my heart. It really did.

If you’re looking for a good walk-to-work shoe for the springtime, try a peep-toe flat or a brightly colored/metallic skimmer.  They’re light enough for the season but won’t make you look like you suffer from premature seasonal release disorder. 

Get a Pedicure I mentioned this briefly above, but it bears repeating: Get a frakking pedicure!!! 

If you’re going to show your toes, paint them or at the very least scrape off the calluses and trim the toenails.  This is basic grooming, I should not even need to post this.

Oh, and don’t ruin a $65 pedicure or a perfect paint job by forgetting to shave the long black hairs off of your big toe.  Yuck, people, yuck.

No, Seersucker. Seriously, I mean it.  Seersucker is not permitted until May.  I’d prefer it if you held out until Memorial Day, but if you can only give me until May 1, I will take it. 

As a co-worker put it, “It’s not even spring until March 21.  No one should be wearing a candy colored striped suit.”  Agreed.  Until the weather is so warm you have to carry the jacket, it is too early for seersucker.

The Spring, Tall Boot Paradox Each spring, I am bombarded with e-mails containing questions about footwear.  The most common question is whether it is okay to keep wearing tall boots in the springtime. 

My take on the issue is that you can keep wearing tall boots until April 1.  Past that, your knee highs need to go into cold storage in your closet.  However, cowboy boots and rain boots (if it is raining) are exempt from this guideline. 

To Bare or Not to Bare Yesterday, was my first bare legs day since October.  Luckily, I had prepared myself with two trips to Hollywood Tans.  (I didn’t want to blind my co-workers with the whiteness.)  But if you want to start going bare legged, just make sure that you shave and apply lotion.  We’re all willing to overlook a little paleness this early in the season, but hairy legs are a cry for help.

Also, if you’re looking for a way to add a little color to your legs, moisturize and apply a light coat of bronzer.  You could even mix a little cream bronzer or liquid foundation in with the lotion.  As long as you don’t sweat much and you’re not planning to wear white, you should be fine.

If you don’t think your gams are ready for the world just yet, you can keep wearing tights for a little longer.  However, try a printed tight or a lighter color (grey and navy would be good choices).  And if you must wear nude hose, go ahead.  I never understood the appeal, but as long as they’re not shimmery or Hooters suntan hose, they’re not faux pas.

The Main Squeeze As you break out your spring wardrobe, you’ll probably find that some of your dresses, skirts, and jeans are fitting a little tighter than you remember.  This is normal.  We all pack on a few pounds during the winter because millions of years of evolution tells us that this is the path to surviving until spring.  However, please do not force yourself into an outfit that is too tight just because it’s nice outside. 

Yesterday, I had to try on three dresses before I found one that fit.  Sure, I could have put on two pairs of Spanx and spent the whole day feeling like a bloated whale wedged into a sausage casing, but then I would have spent a beautiful sunny day completely miserable.  And since we get so few beautiful days in D.C., I don’t want to waste a single one tugging uncomfortably at my clothing. 

Also, wearing clothing that’s too tight just highlights your imperfections.  Nothing looks worse on a woman than a dress that is giving her back fat or a pair of pants causing a muffin top.  It simply doesn’t matter how cute the dress is if it doesn’t flatter your figure. 

These are the fashion rules, I implore you to observe them.  Any that you don’t agree with? Or one that I missed?

*The graphic above is the Fashion Citation tickets that they sell at the Museum of Crime & Punishment gift shop.  Yes, I have one.



  1. Mary says:

    I couldn’t get my blackberry out in time to take a photo – but last night I got off the Metro and saw a guy wearing rainbow flipflops, madras shorts and a white polo. Totally fine if the date were May 18 not MARCH. I wish I had been able to document this for you.

    March 19, 2010/Reply
  2. Princess Freckles says:

    SHORTS! I’ve been spotting them everywhere this past week. Hello, we live in Michigan! It’s predicted to snow on Monday….slow down people!

    And I completely agree with the pedicure statement! I don’t think a woman should EVER wear open toed shoes with no pedicure. And men need to trim, and scrub before wearing open shoes, though I don’t think men should really wear flip flops unless headed to a pool or the bech.

    March 19, 2010/Reply
  3. Disgruntled Julie says:

    Do you have any suggestions for COMFORTABLE flats? I walk 1.5 miles each way to work, and in the winter, it’s great — I can wear flat boots with ease. My physical therapist has banned wearing heels for any sort of walking, but I have purchased (and subsequently dumped) at least 50 pairs of flats over the past several years. Every single one hits an exact spot on my heel and causes it to bleed, and I wind up limping in agony every day. I’ve tried everything from low end up through Revas, and they all do the same thing. I’m desperate for a flat shoe I can wear with dresses, closed-toe (I’m a scientist; no one would bat an eye if I showed up to work in pajamas, but open-toed shoes would ban me from the lab for life), that won’t leave me with the typical bloody open sore between April and October like every other year.

    March 19, 2010/Reply
  4. Erica says:

    Yesterday there was a girl ICE SKATING in shorts and a tee shirt. She appeared to work at the Pentagon Row ice rink. I was too embarrassed (for her) to take a picture. I can understand the desire for comfort while moving, but it really was rather ridiculous.

    March 19, 2010/Reply
  5. Ms.B says:

    Absolutely delightful! Go Belle!

    March 19, 2010/Reply
  6. James says:

    Nonsense. I’m wearing a seersucker suit today. I don’t care about your little rules of what you think I should wear or not wear. My morale is low and seersucker puts me in a good mood. Therefore, I wore the suit today. It’s spring.

    It could be six degrees out and I’ll still wear the damn thing.

    March 23, 2010/Reply
  7. S.N. Carpeaux says:

    I concur on all accounts.

    March 23, 2010/Reply