Learn how Barnette Holston makes fashion work for him and his tips for dressing your best.
Barnette Holston could write the book on men’s style in the District. The manager of accounting operations at National Cooperative Bank grew up in Silver Spring, lives in 16th Street Heights and is known among the well-heeled set as DCFashion Fool, the content-creation brand he created nearly a decade ago to share his aesthetic with the world — and gents who are looking to create their own. What is his aesthetic? Whatever he puts on for the day is what you’ll find him in later that night.
“If I’m going to wear it, I’m going to wear it everywhere,” says Holston, who recently revamped his closet to accommodate his wardrobe — a mix of bold and sleek pieces that are sometimes more out there, but always on point.
After all, he says, fashion is about “making it work for you.” Here’s how he does it in D.C.
District Fray: How has men’s fashion in the District changed since you started DCFashion Fool?
Barnette Holston: We used to see more of a uniform — black or charcoal suits and white shirts. There was no real individuality. Even men who worked at law firms would be flashy with their ties, but never their suits. Things shifted to leisure: khakis and polos. Today, there’s a trend toward casual wear because people are working from home. But there’s also a huge creative environment here. So, if guys are wearing suits, it expresses personality — with a pattern or a more casual cut. They’re wearing suits because they want to, not because they have to. And they’re embracing more fun, funky clothing, which has become more acceptable.
Where can men find unique pieces?
Relish in Georgetown added menswear [in fall 2022], and they’ve curated a pretty good collection. It’s edgy, and I know that if I buy a sweater there, I’m not going to see the same one 30,000 other places. The inventory is small, so if you don’t get it, you don’t get it.
You admit to an expensive shoe habit. Favorite footwear boutique?
Sky Valet Shoes in CityCenterDC has a great selection of higher-end dress shoes. The owner is awesome. When you look at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, they’re a little sneaker-heavy. I don’t wear sneakers that much, but they’re a big draw in D.C. There’s also some brands that aren’t in D.C. that I like, such as Taft.
What about accessories?
For funky ties, I like Paul Stuart at CityCenterDC because I’m big into color and patterns. There was a guy who used to have a shop at [Reagan] National Airport with the best cufflinks. Weirdly enough, there’s a kiosk at Pentagon City with cool hats. Nordstrom seems to have a good hat selection, too.
Any other unexpected spots?
I’ve become obsessed with Banana Republic ever since they made the shift to more upscale. The prices haven’t gone up, and they still have that mall mentality — the stuff is always
Do you have a summer look yet?
One of the things you’ll be seeing is a mint-green Thom Browne suit. I bought all the pieces — the pants, the skirt, the sweater, the jacket. I can mix and match.
How can a D.C. man define his style?
Find somebody whose style you admire and look at that. See how they put stuff together. Or, here in D.C., we have Hyde Closet boxes, where they put together looks for you. It doesn’t work for me because I don’t want somebody picking out my looks. But for some people, it’s a good idea. And then go through magazines, Instagram. What I will say about Instagram is you’re going to come across stuff you’re not going to see in D.C., and then my question is: Would you wear it in D.C.? For me, a lot of times, I’m like, yeah.
Sum up men’s fashion today in D.C.
There’s a lot of well-dressed men in this city. You see them in well-tailored suits all over town. Some can rock a mean casual style, while others are artsy creatives who tend to push boundaries. The landscape in Washington is changing, so there’s plenty of room to have an entire town of very distinguished, fashionable men.
Oldest piece of clothing in your closet. My dad’s gray cashmere/wool overcoat he got on Saville Row in London. I believe it’s from the ’50s. Favorite fashionable restaurant. L’Ardente. Excellent food, great spot to be seen and you can get terrific Instagram-worthy shots. Item on your wish list. Thom Browne Mr. Thom Bag — it’s a stunning piece that not everyone has. Plus, my laptop and work would look fantastic in it. Best place in D.C. for gifts. In a pinch, go to Tiffany & Co. You can find things at every price point starting at around $30. Plus, everyone loves a little blue box! Go-to staycation spot. The Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg. I’ve only been once and felt like a king. I need to go back soon.
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