In forthcoming issues, Blumberh will chat with District Fray on all things style. And in this month’s issue, we introduce Blumberh so you’re ready to dive into her take on D.C.’s burgeoning fashion world the next time you see her name. Read on for her ideas on shopping sustainably and curating the perfect fall wardrobe.
The classic suit is as iconic to the District as the cherry blossoms, the gin rickey and go-go. From Capitol Hill to game day locker rooms, you can expect to find residents across the city dressed to the nines.
What’s not as common as the simple suit is one tailored just for you — both in fit and style. These pieces can work from office to outing, day to night and casual to black tie.
Below we hear from local stylist, Knot Standard Sales Director (and style icon herself) Emily Blumberh, who is redefining the suit, and fashion in D.C. Blumberh shares her fashion beginnings, the importance of investing in quality pieces, and, of course, fall fashion tips to take you into cooler weather in style.
Professionally, Blumberh got her start at D.C. tech company LivingSocial before moving to the closet curation service Trunk Club. When Nordstrom acquired Trunk Club, she craved the high-touch service she used to give clients and eventually found her new home at D.C.’s Knot Standard outpost in Logan Circle.
“The main thing I like is one-on-one relationships,” Blumberh says. “I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now, so I really know my client base. One of my first client’s daughters was 11 [when I first met him], and he just [took] them to Georgia for college. So, I know him, I know his life. I know what he likes and what to introduce that his wife wants him to wear.”
In getting to know her clients, she adds flourishes to custom-made pieces that feel emblematic of each person’s identity. A hidden skull button, a favorite lyric inside a collar or a colorful lining to offset a solid color suit are common embellishments.
For Blumberh, who often designs her own Knot Standard pieces to wear on the job and out and about, this can also look like embroidery reading, “It’s a beautiful day in the Dizzy,” a homage to the city she loves.
Investing in You
Blumberh comes from a fashionable family: her mom has always worked in designer and vintage consignment. What’s more, her dad is an avid collector of meaningful items like baseball cards and vinyl. So, the joy of the hunt — and the importance of investing in pieces that last — is something deeply ingrained that she imparts to her clientele.
“I grew up with a bunch of very beautiful, well-made things that were also acquired with a lot of love and care,” she says. “That was what inspired me to really get into this.”
The acquisition of a dream closet or collection isn’t something that happens overnight, however, and Blumberh knows this. For those wishing to line their closet with vintage and slow fashion, she suggests a similarly careful pace as you build a wardrobe that’s sustainable for you, your wallet and the world around you.
“I think the whole thing to do at first is just to start,” she says. “Say, you still have your Zara pieces that come and go pretty quickly, but you also have some staples that you’re more invested in. As you have more skin in the game by either saving for or creating pieces, you can mix that with your fast fashion. I think after a while people start to feel the difference.”
After building a wardrobe, Blumberh notes you may still need overhauls every now and then. These might be due your style self-discovery process, new togs needed for a trip and more. But she notes that as you go deeper into creating a closet you love, the need to shop outside of it will lessen.
“You get addicted to the hunt of finding or making something beautiful. I turn people into monsters — in a good way — who care about where things were sourced. And my job is to make people’s things all work together.”
Adapting for Autumn
What’s dictating the fall fashion forecast? According to Blumberh, it’s the denizens returning to their offices around the District.
“It’s exciting and intimidating to a lot of people,” she says. “The dress codes have gotten a little more liberal, which you think people would love. But it was way easier for people to wear a pencil skirt and a blouse, or for guys to do a navy or gray suit. So what I’m seeing right now [are people] just adapting to that.”
When it comes to tops for men or more masculine outfits, she recommends playing with what you layer underneath a jacket for a flash of style that’s more exciting than your everyday button down.
“When guys come to buy dress shirts from me, they freeze up because they haven’t put on a collared shirt for two years. So, I like to do a good turtleneck or sweater polo — something that’s a different base layer that is still respectful and luxurious enough for the office.”
And on the topic of jackets, you don’t always have to default to a suit or blazer. Blumberh (and Knot Standard, for that matter) offers up many other ways to layer that add fall flair and day-to-night ease to your outfits.
“Think different types of third pieces other than blazers, whether that is more of a deconstructed blazer, or a field jacket or a bomber jacket. Even a trench coat on a female with a boyfriend jean is gorgeous. The right third piece is, I think, playing with textures.”
Texture and pattern lend well to adding interest to outfits when you may not feel like branching out with an unfamiliar color scheme.
“I love a navy flannel suit or jacket,” she says. “You can play with textures rather than going crazy with out-of-the-box color schemes.”
Whether searching through the best vintage shops and clothing swaps in the city for the next lifelong staple, or helping her clients create a personalized suit that will carry them through their next big life event, Blumberh knows how to help you make a sustainable — and personal — statement through clothes.
Book an appointment with Blumberh at Knot Standard’s Logan Circle location by visiting knotstandard.com/emily.blumberh. Follow her on Instagram @emilinablum and @stylebyblum to keep up with her latest work.
Want more style tips and local places to shop? Join the District Fray community for exclusive access to guides and recommendations. Become a member and support local journalism today.