Dress for Finesse

A conversation with Dee Hewitt, assistant manager, Mario’s women’s department.

By Laura Cassidy January 15, 2009 Published in the February 2009 issue of Seattle Met

Your work environment is high fashion. Is that ever intimidating when you’re getting dressed in the morning? There’s an expectation that you’re an authority. You want to be put together. Everyone that works there really has their own thing, and I love watching clients gravitate to the style that they relate to, whether that’s the gal wearing all black Jil Sander, or the one in funky Rick Owens. Fashion can really connect people. I have clients who are really powerful businesswomen and then I work with young girls who have their own really crazy and unique sense of style.

Well, your look is often right in between those two extremes. I tend to be very ladylike, even when I’m a little bit rock and roll. Sophisticated but understated. I love wearing dresses, and I’m in heels almost every day of my life.

I find that most women who are comfortable in heels got an early start in them. I came from a place where fashion does not exist, off the Cheyenne River in South Dakota, out on the Sioux reservation. Culturally, there are a lot of costumes and adornment in the celebrations and the pow wows—if you’re a grass dancer, for example, you’re in bright colors and you’ve got feathers flying. There’s always a representation of spirit and purpose.

Who did you look to for everyday style? I have an aunt who is just super fashionable but very much in her own way; she’s very eclectic, very bohemian. She would wear long skirts with cowboy boots, silver cuffs, and rings on every finger.

“Eclectic” is a long way from “understated,” but icons and their admirers don’t necessarily have to match. I don’t try to be anyone else. I know what works for me: It’s the ease of putting on a dress and accessorizing with a belt and a great shoe. It allows me to get out the door. I really don’t have many separates in my wardrobe; I’d much rather spend my money on a great dress.

That’s a pretty great dress you’re wearing today. I just had to have a piece from Lanvin’s spring 2008 collection. I always think, Well, if I can style it in at least five different ways it’s worth it for me. I knew I could wear that dress to a gala, or to dinner at Canlis, but I could also pop my leather jacket over it and pull on cool tights, and be out to a show at the Paramount, or I can wear it with a black cardigan and ballet flats and go to work.

That’s good advice for style seekers stuck in the slowdown. I’m always asking, “What will give you the most mileage?” When times are tough, you’re looking in your closet going, “I’m so glad I have this because I feel so wonderful in it.” I always want my clients to feel good in what they wear.

Filed under