Author Interview

Fashion Faux Pas and Revenge in D.C.

Ellen Byerrum is fantastic.  She’s a novelist, playwright, reporter, Washington journalist, and a graduate of private investigator school in Virginia. Her Crime of Fashion mysteries star a savvy, stylish female sleuth named Lacey Smithsonian, a reluctant fashion reporter in Washington D.C.

Her books are fun, sassy and unexpected.  No wonder two of them have been made into Lifetime movies!

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Above: Lacey Smithsonian and the ladies of Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover.
From left: Katharine Isabelle (Lacey’s sister Cherise), Sadie LeBlanc (Stella Lake), Maggie Lawson (Lacey), Mary McDonnell (Lacey’s mother Rose), Sarah Edmondson (Brooke Barton).

Ellen sat down with me to talk about Washington style (which she calls “The City Fashion Forgot”), the stress of Cherry Blossom season, and a haunted Russian shawl inspired by the Hillwood Museum collection.

(If you cannot view the video, please update your Adobe.  For better quality, click the YouTube link on the bottom right of the video frame and then, once on YouTube, adjust resolution by clicking on the little tool cog wheel in the right bottom corner.)

Here is a blurb about Ellen’s latest book, Veiled Revenge

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Washington, D.C., fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian has always believed clothes can be magical, but she’s never thought they can be cursed. Until now. Lacey’s best friend, Stella, is finally getting married, and at her bachelorette party, fellow bridesmaid—and fortune-teller—Marie Largesse arrives with a stunning Russian shawl. A shawl, Marie warns, that can either bless or curse the wearer. When a party crasher who mocks the shawl is found dead the next day, the other guests fear the curse has been unleashed. But Lacey has her doubts, and she must employ all her Extra-Fashionary Perception to capture a villain who has vowed that nobody at this wedding will live happily ever after….

So, what do you think? Is Washington, D.C. the least fashionable city on earth or do you have your own nominee for that distinction?  What role do you think fashion plays in developing a character?  (To leave a comment please click on the title of this post and scroll to the bottom.)

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13 replies »

  1. The city that fashion forgot made me laugh out loud! I definitely think Bagheria, where I live, deserves that title. I saw an old lady a while back, her hands ravaged by arthritis, wearing a cerise velour tracksuit plastered with sequins which spelled out the legend “Upper Class Tarte”. (Note the E on the end to make her sound French)
    I am sure she was soon afterwards arrested by the fashion police and thrown into jail for life.

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    • Much to our amusement, fashion crimes lurk everywhere. I just saw two of them at a coffee shop. Your lady is probably friends with the aging Go-Go girl I saw the other day in her pink hoodie, Ugg boots, and amazing platinum blond wig.

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  2. What about men! I mean worked for a very well known department store, and would witness some sales clerks just pushing anything on a man even if he didn’t look good in it. Also, talk about fit! I have witnessed men pushed into shirts, sweaters and blazers that were ill fitting just because they were trendy or popular; making the men look like sausage casings! Oh the horror and the humanity of it all. Now, I’ll admit that I used to dress more on trend when I was younger, but now that I’m closing in on fifty, I may need an overhaul and the help of a professional.

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    • Men are usually easier to dress than women, Marcus. It should be easier because theoretically, the basic look is simpler, and the choices are fewer. But if a guy doesn’t care and might be colorblind, the result can be disastrous. Sometimes I think women dress their husbands in awful clothes to punish them. The ill fitting, rumpled suit is bad and you can see it all over D.C. In my books, the editor Mac Jones is pretty fashion clueless. I do love it when a man takes care with his appearance. Many men can pull off a well-fitting tuxedo, however, I believe if a guy looks good in jeans, he’ll look good in anything.

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      • All I know Marcus is that my husband looks great when he dresses in a good suit and in a tux … well, he’s dynamite. His good heart is why I love him, but the package — when well put together — keeps both our motors running!

        You’re so right, though, about trends. I really am amazed what people will wear just because it has a certain label or comes from a particular store. Ellen epitomizes great style — and she’s wearing nothing in the video from the 21st Century! It’s her eye and the way she puts things together — things that work on her individual body — that make her look so spectacular.

        Thanks for joining us today, I hope you’ll come back again soon.

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    • Sausage casings!!!! Oh boy, I’ve seen a lot of those walking around! The trousers men wear these days, tight all the way down, seem specifically designed to make their bums look vast and pudgy. It’s a crime.

      And I wish I had a pound for every woman I’ve met who believes she looks better in some calvin Kline jeans rather than unbranded ones, just because of their label – when in fact those branded jeans make her rear look like the back end of a bus and she has cheaper ones in her wardrobe that are much more flattering.

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