Posted by Carten Cordell / Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Springfield resident Barbara Starr has always been a loyal fashionista and stays true to her style no matter the scene. Starr shares how she successfully brought her fashionable flair to professional pieces during her career at the U.S. Department of State. She discusses her instinctive connection to the world of fashion, shares her favorite brands and which designers sell the best boots, accessories and cocktail dresses.
Starr readily welcomed the new Anthropologie store to Old Town Alexandria by helping with the store’s opening. As she explains, her personal approach to fashion, her passion for the industry is so palpable, it’s almost infectious.
Q: What is your fashion mantra?
A: By using the word mantra, I am assuming that you mean what spiritually guides my fashion senses. For me, it is so important to bring my own personal creativity to each of the outfits I put together, and so much of the artistry that comes together is based on the day, the light in the day, the mood of the day and, of course, my own feelings about myself for that day. Yet there is always a common underlying theme. It is balance. Something that makes me feel uniquely put together with different combinations of accessories and clothing. My tastes run the gamut of traditional (Ralph Lauren) lines to more avante-guarde (All Saints) fashion-forward lines with a bit of an edge. Putting all this together as I dress makes my presentation my very own. I tend to use earth tones in my clothing and color in my shoes, belts, scarves and gloves! In the end there is symmetry and balance that brings all of this together in my own personal style.
Q: Name some of your fashion icons.
A: I don’t really have fashion icons. I am more fascinated by different styles that show the body in the most feminine way and yet do not have to be skin tight or revealing. The female body is made to be adorned. I adhere to the desire of finding the clothes that best accentuate the hour glass figure and have an eye toward being able to see shapes that best flatter any figure. While she is by no means the only woman I admire, Posh Spice wears her clothes beautifully. Lots of black and white—my very favorite colors regardless of season!
Q: Do you consider fashion to have limits? Are there any times that you put comfort before fashion? How do you combine professional attire with fun fashion?
A: I have never put comfort before fashion! Probably the reason that I can hardly walk in flat shoes and walk around on my tip toes when barefooted! Fashion has no bounds because of the artistry that goes into the product. But loud colors, big prints and heavy fabric would not be found on me. As a former State Department executive in a rather conservative environment, I found ways to keep my personal style and yet mix it up a bit. As long as the clothing is “appropriate,” there is much that one can do to add the fun. For example, a very clean lined fitted khaki suit could be worn with colorful high heels picking up both the color of the suit and the top under the suit jacket. In my mind, shoes can tell an entire story about one’s personality. Shoes can, as Emeril Lagasse says, “kick it up a notch.”
A: OMG! Where do I begin? For years I have been a fan of Marithe and Francois Girbaud. Currently I love Tory Burch (boots and accessories), Theory, BCBG (cocktail dresses), All Saints (everything), Anthropologie, Free People, Michael Starrs, De Nang and many more! I also love Candies shoes.
Q: Where did you get your love for fashion? Is it genetic? Is it religious?
A: My fashion sense in NOT genetic! It is not religious. It is spiritual! It is inside of me. Every day is like having an empty palette, and I can create a new look, image, picture that is uniquely my own. My girls love fashion as well. And both have their own creative styles, one being more classical and one being more fashion-forward, but both dress beautifully and always make a statement!
Q: Would you consider fashion to be just a hobby of yours? Have you ever considered making it a career?
A: Fashion is a part of my life. I could dress myself or I could dress someone else once I understood what makes them feel wonderful. It is intuitive and a happy place to be. I spent my career at the U.S. Department of State (and the formerly U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency) but have always had a love of fashion.
Q: Do you have any experience as a professional in the fashion industry?
A: I do not have professional experience in the fashion industry. I have however assisted many women and teenage/young adult women in selecting clothing and styles.
I have just recently had the honor and thrill of helping with the opening of the new Anthropologie Store on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. This store is exceptional in every sense. Each piece in the store exudes craftsmanship, style and artistry whether it is the clothing you wear or the products you place in your home. I will be working part-time at the store.
Q: What is one product that you can’t do without? (A special hand cream, pair of sunglasses, piece of jewelry, etc.)
A: I have very special jewelry given to me by my husband. I treasure each piece and could not live without them. Each is a memory of a special time or place and each brings lovely remembrances.
Anthropologie is located at 610 King St., Old Town Alexandria; 703-535-8750.