3288 M St., NW; 202-333-4690
Career women can’t get enough of Sangaree. With an internationally minded label list and a tasteful feminine aesthetic, it’s a good place for a cocktail frock that won’t mimic your coworker’s boring little black dress.
2906 M St., NW; 202-342-2020
No Georgetown shop takes risks quite like Hu’s Wear. Marlene Hu Aldaba’s two-story designer showroom—which added more floor space in September—is lined with fierce fashions from high-end lines such as Alexander McQueen, Proenza Schouler, and celebrated newcomer Suno. Forward-thinking fashionistas should head to the basement, where the boutique keeps items from the most recent runway seasons.
3312 Cady's Alley, NW; 202-333-5343
You’ll have to forgive the airy boutique Relish for being a little snooty. When your customers don’t think twice about spending $2,000 on a trench coat, that comes with the territory. But Relish is still one of the best stores in Washington for the stylish mature set. Modern elegance comes in the form of Balenciaga, Maison Martin Margiela, and Dries van Noten separates and is complemented by a smart selection of leather boots, roomy totes, and fedoras.
1626 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-338-5398
For trendy pieces that fit in with Georgetown’s under-30 crowd, try Urban Chic. Preppy socialites are drawn in by frequent trunk shows with Champagne and cupcakes and come back for brightly colored Diane von Furstenberg dresses and Rebecca Taylor blouses.
3109 M St., NW; 202-338-9465
Walk too fast and you might miss classically chic Wink, the cheery boutique located under the Steve Madden store. Owner Paige Speyer, who previously worked at Giorgio Armani, Hermès, and Matthew Williamson, has been outfitting undergrads in Trina Turk, Ali Ro, and Vince since 2004 and stocks go-with-everything baubles and bracelets from local designers such as Andrea Tedesco and Rachelle Celine.
1647 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-4212
Lilly Pulitzer resort wear may take up half the selling space, but you don’t have to vacation in Palm Beach to shop at Sherman Pickey. Cool brands including Chloe & Reese, Jules Reid, and Tocca lie on white lacquered shelves, while men can choose from Peter Millar cashmere sweaters and Smathers & Branson needlepoint belts.
3222 M St., NW; 202-338-0774
A gem among the Georgetown Park shops, Fornash offers essential accessories of the Ivy League look. In this pastel-drenched store, horse-bit bangles, monogram necklaces, and ribbons of every size and color line the walls.
3278 M St., NW; 202-333-4333
The name of the game at J. McLaughlin is classic American clothing and accessories for men and women. Enough plaid button-downs, ribbon belts, and critter pants fill this kelly-green shop to outfit the entire Kennedy family.
1237 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-3599
Denim is the darling of Madewell, but trendsters on the hunt for a little quirk in their cardigans, pullovers, and everyday dresses love this J. Crew offshoot, too. Shoe options include ankle boots and two-tone brogues, and the collection of edgy statement jewelry is adorable without being precious.
Also try: Barbour (3221 M St., NW; 202-298-6032) for New England–ready outerwear, J. Crew (3222 M St., NW; 202-965-4090) for hipster-prep chic, Kate Spade (3061 M St., NW; 202-333-8302) for classic purses and wallets, and Rugby (1065 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-298-5928) for crested polos.
3279 M St., NW; 202-298-5555
What’s the first store you hit in DC if you’re Victoria Beckham or Nicole Richie? Annie Creamcheese. The vintage shop, which divides its wares into designer consignment cocktail frocks and more casual options, is a good shop for budding starlets and their admirers. Finds in the funky purple space include everything from Halston gowns and Yves Saint Laurent jackets to worn-in cowboy boots and retro grandpa cardigans. The store also carries a few contemporary lines, including Joan Holloway–esque Eva Franco.
3236 P St., NW; 202-333-1598
If walking through Ella-Rue feels a bit like rummaging through the clothing castaways of the Late Night Shots set, that’s because you are. Operated by MTV UK Blonde Charity Mafia reality star Krista Johnson, this new shop mixes consignment pieces from Johnson’s high-society friends with such discounted staples as Milly and Tory Burch. Despite the cluttered display, finds including $60 Lela Rose wool shorts keep us coming back.
Also try: Second Time Around (3289 M St., NW; 202-333-2355) for everyday separates, newcomer Tari (1525 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-621-7500) for flashier labels such as Roberto Cavalli as well as men’s button-downs, and Secondhand Rose (1516 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-337-3378) for colorful pantsuits.
JEWELRY AND GIFTS
2910 M St., NW; 202-298-0420
What Charm Georgetown lacks in space it more than makes up for in jewelry options. Owner Jaclyn Mason’s tastes are eclectic—she keeps her shop stocked with everything from tribal bib necklaces to glitzy rhinestone bangles. Alexis Bittar and Paula Mendoza are just a few of the standout brands.
2828 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-295-2829
There’s something for every member of the ultra-fashionable family at M29 Lifestyle. At this modern showroom, Mom can pick up Antik Batik caftans and Chan Luu bracelets, Dad can shop for Beryll leather jackets, and the kids will look styled beyond their years in pretty ballerina dresses and tiny slip-on shoes.
Claude Taylor Photography Gallery
1500 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-1101
The inexpensive, color-saturated artwork at Claude Taylor Photography Gallery features snapshots from trips across Europe and the United States. The Washington prints—including of Ben’s Chili Bowl and kayaks on the Potomac River—make nice gifts for a recent graduate’s first apartment.
Also try: Rooms With a View (1661 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-625-0610) for cute cards, wrapping paper, and ribbons.
1426 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-625-6732
Sneak freaks should head to Major, Georgetown’s coolest urban-gear outfitter. Owner Duk-Ki Yu crams the space with limited-edition Air Jordans, Adidas Gazelles, and Nike Dunks, and the T-shirt/hoodie selection scores with fans.
3005 M St., NW; 202-342-0202
Every item on the floor at Hu’s Shoes is a veritable work of art. Sister store to Hu’s Wear, this boutique stocks Devi Kroell snakeskin pumps, Lanvin flats, and sexy Giuseppe Zanotti sandals.
1641 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-471-4400
Thanks to plush couches and tons of fashion magazines, Sassanova feels like the living room of a stylish Georgetown doyenne. The upscale preppy selection is a good complement to the finds at nearby Urban Chic and includes sturdy Tory Burch pumps, ruffly Loeffler Randall sandals, and vegan Olsen Haus shoes.
Also try: SimplySoles (the Shops at Georgetown Park; 202-232-0072) for Frye boots and Lillybee heels.
FOR THE BOYS
1802 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-298-7464
Men of polish head to Everard’s Clothing for Hickey Freeman suits, Romano Martegani leather lace-ups, and shelf after shelf of collared shirts. Owner Louis Everard also offers made-to-measure services.
1033 31st St., NW; 202-333-0093
Ice-cold beers and a blond bombshell of an owner—who’s also a whiz at personal styling—make men’s shopping easy at Lost Boys. Kelly Muccio has filled her boutique with urban-rugged options from Band of Outsiders, Steven Alan, Theory, and more. The hours outside 9 to 5 have suddenly gotten cooler-looking.
Also try: Hugo Boss (1517 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-625-2677) for slick black tuxes and suits.
FUN FOR KIDS
1319 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-338-9476
Everything you need for make-believe is available at Tugooh Toys. We especially like the miniature kitchens, kid-size tea sets, and handsome wooden baby tractors.
The Magic Wardrobe
1663 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-0353
Outfit your little ones for their first big occasion at the Magic Wardrobe. Formalwear—newborn to size 16—is available from brands including Marc Jacobs, Paul & Joe, and Paul Smith.
1533 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-0123
Two-story Piccolo Piggies goes for a more casual approach with hoodies and jumpers from Ella Moss, Splendid, and a bevy of international brands. Girls’ options range from infant to size 14, while boys go up to size 12. A small selection of shoes is available.
Also try: Georgetown Candy Bar (1419 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-0032) for a post-shopping sweets break.
MAKING A HOME
Sixteen Fifty Nine
1659 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-1480
Art Deco gets a gloss of mod, Mad Men sleekness at Sixteen Fifty Nine. Stop in for low-slung chairs and dressers as well as classy vintage lamps, then stay to shop the quirky vases and taxidermy shadow boxes.
Darrell Dean Antiques & Decorative Arts
1524 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6330
The offerings at Darrell Dean Antiques & Decorative Arts are as wide-ranging as they are one of a kind—from Frances Elkins loop chairs to Chinese folding screens. Bookmark darrelldeanantiques.1stdibs.com to stay caught up on what’s new in stock.
The French Apartment
1671 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-506-1846
White-and-gold furnishings are the focus at the French Apartment. Inventory changes weekly, but count on at least one throw pillow emblazoned with the Chanel logo.
Oliver Dunn, Moss & Co., and Catharine Roberts
1657 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-338-7410
Though Oliver Dunn, Moss & Co., and Catharine Roberts is in a Georgetown rowhouse, the store has the rustic romance of a provincial French cottage. Three creative co-owners have filled six rooms—and a back yard—with furniture, table linens, housewarming presents, French signs, posters, and artwork.
Also try: Metro Interiors (1526 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-4663) for retro, oversize embellishments; local chain Random Harvest (1313 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-5569) for affordable pieces in a mix of versatile neutrals; and A Mano (1677 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-298-7200) for handmade decorative accessories.
It’s easy to miss Cady’s Alley, a pedestrian-friendly cobblestone lane south of M Street between 33rd and 34th. But the high-end design stores you’ll find there are worth a look. Here are some highlights.
Baker Furniture (202-342-7080) is a trusted favorite among architects and interior designers. Offering handsome pieces from about a dozen brands, the big showroom can help outfit a traditional rowhouse, a sleek condo, or anything in between.
Illuminations (202-965-4888) offers lamps and lighting design from forward-thinking European lines. Nearby, the Italian home-accessory company Alessi (202-298-0407), favored for cheeky teakettles and kitchen appliances, recently opened its only standalone store in the District.
Reproductions of Le Corbusier and other icons are the draw at the contemporary furniture showroom M2L (202-298-8010). Concrete-floored Contemporaria (202-338-0193), run by Peruvian-born architect Deborah Kalkstein, has long campaigned against traditional Colonial style with finds from Minotti, Molteni & C, and Vitra. More sleek modern furniture can be found at the popular international chains Design Within Reach (202-339-9480) and BoConcept (202-333-5656).
This article first appeared in the March 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.