Bermudian born and raised, Shiona Turini is an NYC-based freelance editor, creative consultant, and stylist.
If, during my first few days in New York as a fashion intern, you had asked me where I saw myself in 10 years, I probably would've said jail. (Just kidding.) A few weeks ago, however, I received an email inviting me to participate in a White House panel celebrating the achievements of alumni from historically black colleges and universities (aka HBCUs).
Now, when you’re invited to do anything at the White House, your first instinct might be to hit the spam button (mine certainly was), but I hesitated. Then I thought maybe this was an elaborate prank, I'd step off the Acela Express in our nation's capital wearing my Sunday best, and my friends would have a solid laugh at my expense. But against all odds, it was real, which presented a life-consuming follow-up question: What would I wear?!
I've spent the better part of the last decade advocating for the versatility of a good crop top even in the most professional of settings, so I was torn: Olivia Pope or Elle Woods? Of course, when life gives you the chance to play Kerry Washington’s alter ego for a day, you take that chance. So for hours I deliberated how to properly do justice to the fixer's practical, ultra-chic brand of minimalism, in the end opting for a winter-white ensemble composed exclusively of some of my favorite American designers and brands.
As a proud curvy girl, I've had to nip and tuck every pair of pants I’ve ever worn, but here's a secret I'll never admit to my mother: Since I waited until the last minute, I didn't have time to tailor them this time. In the midst of my full-blown panic, my ever-wise BFF sent me a reassuring text: "If we've learned one thing in our decades in the fashion business, it's that every now and then, you've just gotta safety-pin your pants."
Ultimately, I showed up to the White House feeling put-together, and when White House Director of African American Outreach Stephanie Young complimented my look, I breathed a sigh of relief: Olivia Pope mode accomplished.
Scroll down to check out my final look, and shop similar pieces.
On Shiona Turini: Michael Kors coat; 3.1 Phillip Lim suit and bag; Proenza Schouler top.
What would you wear to the White House? Let me know in the comments below!