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"Dress for Less" Syndicated Column: A Trend-Setter and Resource for Fashion Students

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Every woman wants to achieve that designer look, but not pay a fortune for it. Today, we have stores like Target that carry designer brands at lower-prices. But back in the early 1990s, it wasn’t so easy to find looks similar to those seen on the fashion runways.

Andrea Lee Negroni and her sister, Christine, stepped in to lead the way with the syndicated column, Dress for Less, which ran weekly in such newspapers as The Baltimore Sun, Detroit Free Press, The Palm Beach Post, The Rocky Mountain News, Hartford Courant, and Washington Times.

The column, written by Candy Barrie, proved so popular that a book of the same title followed, co-authored by Barrie and Marymount alumna Patty Lowell ʼ85, a fashion writer who was also fashion editor for the Washington Times. That Marymount connection led the Negroni sisters to donate the archive of Dress for Less columns and photos to Marymount University’s Reinsch Library, where it will be a resource for students in the fashion design and fashion merchandising programs.

At a recent Marymount reception to recognize the donation, Lee and Christine Negroni were joined by Lowell. They shared their experience and offered advice to current fashion and communication majors.

Lowell encouraged students to “have a voice and define your identify as a writer.” For her, humor is a strong component, and it’s all about storytelling. She also pointed out the importance of meeting deadlines and researching trends, and emphasized the value of internships. Her own internship working with the Washington Times fashion editor evolved into taking on the editorial role herself just a year later.

The Audience for Dress for Less
While both sisters said that a primary impetus for the column was the opportunity to work together, they also had a mission.

Lee explains, “The column was for everyone – people who wanted to be fashionable no matter what their shape or what they had to spend. It gave tips on lower cost menswear, as well as womenswear and clothing for children, infants, the elderly, and even people confined to a wheelchair.”

They had contests, and thousands sent in ideas for economizing on great fashion. From daywear to evening wear, fashion on a budget was demonstrated as doable. The column had a good run, but the ʼ90s were a time of declining newspaper budgets, and the column was sold in 1995.

Fashion Reporting Today
Lee Negroni pointed out, “Bloggers are taking over.” And, Christine added, “They have the ability to speak to niches.” Patty Lowell agreed, noting, “Fashion trends aren’t so rigid. You can be creative and show your personality.” So fashion reporting is equally diverse.

Where they are now
Lee Negroni is a lawyer with BuckleySandler LLP in the field of financial services regulation. Christine Negroni, a career journalist, writes for The New York Times and many other publications. She has worked as a network television correspondent for CBS News and CNN. Her book, Deadly Departure, on the crash of TWA Flight 800, was a New York Times Notable Book. Patty Lowell is currently director of communications and content for Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty. She has served as fashion editor for the Washington Times and Palm Beach Post; Dallas editor for Lucky magazine; and freelance writer for numerous publications, including The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, Town & Country, The Baltimore Sun, and The Chicago Sun-Times. Lowell is also pursuing a master’s degree in creative writing at Southern Methodist University and writes the blog www.moreroomforshoes.com.
– left to right: Dr. Pamela Stoessell and Janice Ellinwood, professors of fashion design and fashion merchandising; Christine and Andrea Lee Negroni; and Patty Lowell, with photos from the Dress for Less column taken by Patricia Barrow.

– Dress for Less photo from the ʼ90s by Patricia Barrow; designer look on the left, with bargain version on the right.

PHOTO 3 – Patty Lowell ʼ85 shares career insights.

PHOTO 4 – Christine (left) and Lee Negroni talk about the joy of working together on the Dress for Less syndicated column.

PHOTO 5 – Dr. Zary Mostashari (right), dean of Library and Learning Services, and Janice Ellinwood, chair of Marymount’s fashion department, thank Christine, Lee, and Patty for the gift of the Dress for Less archive.