The Role of Fashion in Diplomacy – Diplomacy by Design – 10.21.2016

An enchanted evening on the South Lawn.

A photo posted by The White House (@whitehouse) on


Ambassador Peter A. Selfridge and his wife Parita Shah at the Italy state dinner image c/o

Today the United States Chief of Protocol Peter A. Selfridge and his wife Parita Shah in partnership with ELLE Editor in Chief Robbie Myers will host an event to highlight the role of fashion in diplomacy, Diplomacy by Design.

The event will bring together the diplomatic community and leaders in the American fashion industry for an engaging panel discussion to explore the role of fashion in international diplomacy. The event features a panel, moderated by Robbie Myers, with Robin Givhan, Fashion Critic of the Washington Post, Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Fashion Designer Derek Lam, Designer.

I am honored to have played a role in the planning of this cultural and historic initiative that combines both my professional experience and passions, politics and fashion.  Today’s event marks the first time that the Office of Protocol has held an event to explore the cultural role fashion plays in diplomatic affairs.

Ambassador Selfridge heads The Office of Protocol at the Department of State. One of his many responsibilities includes engaging the Diplomatic Corps for opportunities to learn about and experience American Culture. The Ambassador’s programming has focused on topics such as American cuisine, music, and literature, but this is the first time that the global impact of fashion has been featured.

It seems appropriate that this event is taking place during an Administration with a First Lady who has made fashion a part of her legacy. Michelle Obama brings a fashion message during her official activities on a daily basis, often providing exposure not only to emerging American designers, but to designers from all over the world. That is not to say that Mrs. Obama does not honor fashion’s household names too. For example, this past week at the final state dinner honoring Italian Prime Minister Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini, Mrs. Obama wore one of her boldest looks —  a rose-gold, chainmail gown designed by Italian designer Atlier Versace.  The gown was worn as a way to pay tribute to Italy.  The gowns Mrs. Obama wears for other state dinners, as well as all of the clothes she has worn as First Lady have all been selected with similar intent.  One of the first memories I have of Mrs. Obama using fashion as a diplomatic tool was during her husband’s first term.  She traveled to South Africa, and many of the items she wore were a part of the ASOS Africa line.  In addition to honoring the region of the world that she was visiting, she chose pieces that not only helped provide jobs to Kenya’s underprivileged communities, but were financially accessible for large audiences to purchase.

Fashion has been used throughout history to make political statements. Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher was known for using her handbag as a political tool during negotiations and political meetings.  In a similar way, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright used the pins she wore to send diplomatic messages.  “I was the only woman on the Security Council, and I decided to get some more costume jewelry. On good days, I wore flowers and butterflies and balloons, and on bad days, all kinds of bugs and carnivorous animals. I saw it as an additional way of expressing what I was saying, a visual way to deliver a message,” Albright told Smithsonian Magazine in 2010.  She has written a book about the meaning of her pins, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box.

Many other names currently resonate with fashion diplomacy the Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India known for wearing his signature look that inspired a hashtag, #KurtaModi; Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May and of course The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton are both known for promoting British designers; the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who wears gorgeous, colorful African inspired suits; and the President of Bolivia Evo Morales who does not dress up and dresses in casual everyday wear to relate to others and represent his roots.

Fashion crosses cultures and is a universal point of reference, making it a perfect medium for diplomacy.  I think of American inventor Levi Strauss who invented denim in 1890.  He made a mark on America’s fashion history and identity forever. Americans’ eternal love of denim jeans can be seen around the world, with Levis forever branded as ‘the original.’

Technology has also played a role in the accessibility of fashion.  Platforms like Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter have turned bloggers and vloggers from all over the world into fashion icons, created a powerful forum for designers to gain notoriety, and have allowed every person with access to the internet to have a front row seat at most fashion shows.  E-commerce giants, such as Amazon.com and eBay, have allowed people to gain access to sought after fashion items they want from all corners of the map.

These are just a few simple observations of fashion’s role in diplomacy, and I am very much looking forward to learning more from the experts featured on the panel tonight. I will be sure to share more insight, updates and highlights throughout the evening — stay tuned!

Follow along at #DiplomacyXDesign

Politiquette Style

Gothic Glam – The Exorcist Steps – 10.21.2016

politiquette9-24-16-1-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-5-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-7-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-8-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-10-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-16-of-61-1Dress by Alberta Ferretti (old); Shoes by Manolo Blahnik (old); Choker by Vanessa Mooney; Purse by Alexander McQueen; Nails OPI; Lips Giorgio Armani

I’m not much for costumes, but I am a fan of the spooky part of Halloween.  As a result, some of the gothic glam trends for fall have me intrigued.  The easiest way to “bring” this fashion trend is with dark black nails and lips.  I still wear Lincoln Park After Dark regularly and my favorite dark lipsticks are Giorgio Armani 602 and Nars Liv.  True black nail polish and lipstick can be widely be found during the Halloween season for very reasonable prices at most drugstores.  You can wear both of these cosmetics everyday without going full goth, but this is definitely the season both from a holiday and fashion perspective to try this look out.

Politiquette Tip: Cosmetics can be one of the most cost-effective ways to embrace a seasonal trend.

Photo Information:  Photos by Anna Meyer taken at the “Exorcist Steps” in Georgetown.

Goth Glam Makeup Recommendations:

Gothic Glam Outfit Ideas:



Makeup Tips for 17th Street High Heel Race – 17th Street, NW, WDC – 10.19.2016



Every October in Washington, DC the spectacularly festive 17th Street High Heel Race featuring costumed drag queens is held as a benefit for charity.  The High Heel Race has been going on since 1986 and benefits the Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, a 501 (c)(3).

Some of my friends have recently reached out to ask for makeup tips and/or if I could help them with makeup application.  This made me think it would be helpful to put together a guide of how to prep skin and what items are needed in a drag queen’s makeup kit – it’s not much different than my own daily kit.

I consulted Celadon Spa’s makeup artist, Melissa Hurley, to make sure the list that I provided was comprehensive.

Makeup Kit Must Haves

  1. Razor – you want to be clean shaven.
  2. Skin exfoliant – to remove skin buildup.  Make sure you test this product prior so you don’t break out or irritate your skin the day of!
  3. Face moisturizer
  4. Makeup primer to help your makeup last throughout the long evening.
  5. Foundation to match your skin tone – see more tips on this below.
  6. Concealer for spots, under eyes, etc.
  7. Lipstick or lipgloss to go with the identity of your costume.  For example, if you are dressing like Melania Trump a nude, plumping gloss would be appropriate, but for Gwen Stefani a bright red is the way to go.
  8. False eyelashes and eyelash glue, you want to be more dramatic than everyday and make a statement with your look.
  9. Contouring powder – very important for shaping the face.
  10. Blush, something that works with your skin tone and costume.
  11. Eyeshadow kit with multiple colors for options and a defined eye.
  12. Black mascara – don’t share this product I won’t go into the gory details.
  13. Eyeliner (for a cat eye get liquid eyeliner, for any other look a regular eyeliner in black or a color if it works for your costume) – another item to not share.
  14. Makeup brushes for contouring, brow shaping, eyeshadow, blush, powder.
  15. Tweezers because you never know.
  16. Q-tips for corrections.
  17. Makeup remover wipes for the end of the night.
  18. Bobby pins and rubber bands for any wig/hair needs if your wig is not already set.

More tips via Q&A with Melissa Hurley of Celadon Spa:

1) What are your thoughts on priming for makeup?  Exfoliation?  Special products or primer?

Yes, exfoliation is key to a smooth makeup application. Dermalogica makes a great daily exfoliator that will help you maintain a clear complexion, or for a more intense effect, Eminence pear & poppy seed microdermabrasion polisher is great to bring out your skin’s natural glow. For a primer, I would recommend Kevyn Aucoin’s primed skin developer, which is great for all skin types. It will help create an even base for your makeup, as well as give your makeup staying power.

2) How does someone go about matching their foundation to their skin tone?

I always match foundation directly on the face, close to the jawline. As a general rule, if you can’t decide between 2 shades, go with the lighter one, as the natural oils in your skin tend to darken your foundation as the day goes on.

3) What are makeup/product must haves?

A good concealer-Kevyn Aucoin’s sensual skin enhancer is a must have-it is a hybrid foundation/concealer, that can be used anywhere on the body (it can even cover tattoos). It is very concentrated, and can be built up to give you maximum coverage. It can also be used as a contour or highlight.

A good contouring powder, such as the Kevyn Aucoin medium sculpting powder, which will give you a natural shadow under the cheekbones, that mimics definition at the hollows of the cheeks. It’s a makeup artist staple product.

Good quality brushes to give you the most professional results (all of the Kevyn Aucoin ones are good), and or a beauty blender makeup sponge for an airbrushed look to your foundation.

4) Any eyelash application tips?

Measure the lashes up against your natural lash line to make sure the length is correct, trim if necessary, apply a thin strip of glue to the lash base, and let the glue dry for a few seconds before applying, so they don’t slide around on your skin. And don’t be afraid to ask for help with application. 😉

5) Anything else?!

My favorite simple trick to bring attention to your lips is to apply a little lip gloss in a shade lighter than your lipstick right to the center of your lips to give them more pop!

You can also book a professional makeup session for this event and purchase all of the products recommended by Melissa at Celadon Spa.


Politiquette Style

Sacai – Spanish Steps – 10.12.2016

politiquette9-24-16-17-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-22-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-26-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-33-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-34-of-61-1 politiquette9-24-16-35-of-61-1

It’s gala season in DC.  In fact one of the premiere black tie events is coming up this Friday night, the Meridian Ball.  Black Tie attire in DC can mean various things based on the event, but the Meridian Ball dress code is certainly one event that stays true to the definition, meaning it is very formal.  I think you can get away with a dress similar to the one I am wearing in this photo if you paired it with different evening shoes because of the decadent details, but I would normally wear this dress for a cocktail attire event.

Politiquette Tip: For a black tie event you should wear a long formal dress, a fancier cocktail dress that is not too short, a formal suit or a tuxedo.  This goes for women and men.

You can shop my dress and other Black Tie recommendations here:

Photo Information:

Photos were taken at the Spanish Steps in the DC neighborhood of Kalorama.  Named for the Spanish Steps in Rome, the steps were built as part of the DC City Beautiful Movement.

Photos taken by Anna Meyer.