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Costume Designer Janie Bryant Talks Capitol Style

The Emmy-winning designer rolled into Washington D.C. Monday for “Man Men Style: Fashion and Character,” where she offered some pointers for political celebs.

D.C. STYLE: Award-winning costume designer Janie Bryant, who rolled into town Monday to talk “Man Men Style,” has some pointers for political celebs hemmed in by the capital’s reputation for studied frumpiness.

The Emmy-winning designer, who began work for AMC’s hit series “Mad Men” just seven months after then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her first presidential bid, has plenty of advice for the current Democratic presidential frontrunner. “Hillary Clinton could have an amazing fashion update,” said Bryant, whose D.C. appearance is hosted by the Smithsonian Associates program. Candidate Clinton, she said, “could look totally dynamic, professional and serious all at the same time with beautiful blouses and skirts as opposed to the safe-pantsuit look.”

Hard at work on her own Hollywood-based fashion reality TV show, Bryant said, “Women in politics play it very safe. As a designer, I feel they could still be taken seriously without being so conservative.”

Bryant, who last visited D.C. as a student just after the Reagans left town, said, “Nancy Reagan was totally influential on style in the 1980s. Women were clamoring for their perfect Chanel suit. No one has had that big an influence since.

“Of course, it’s a different time. People don’t dress up as much,” said Bryant, who remembers when Michelle Obama first came to town. “One of my favorite outfits was her inaugural green coat with the matching green gloves. Michelle Obama is not afraid to be herself. On an everyday basis, she is not so concerned with fashion.”

Washington women had plenty of time for rebuttal. After delivering her “Evening Seminar” from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Baird Auditorium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Bryant will join the crowd of more than 200 for a special viewing of a selection of her original sketches served with “Mad Men-style cocktails” provided by Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Ledroit Brands LLC and Haus Alpenz importers.

“No question, it’s very important that women be taken seriously in politics,” said Bryant. “But you can still wear an amazing power pencil skirt and a tailored, fitted jacked and heels, and look fabulous and powerful, too.”