Bloomingdale’s (240-744-3700; bloomingdales.com) caters to the urban-contemporary “it” girl with in-store boutiques for Tory Burch and Rebecca Taylor, plus a collection of designer jeans.
With labels including DVF and Armani, Saks Fifth Avenue (301-657-9000; saksfifthavenue.com) dresses women with deep pockets and offers personal shopping services. Thanks to finds such as La Mer face lotion, the store also boasts a better makeup counter than any of its competitors.
Neiman Marcus (202-966-9700; neimanmarcus.com) is smaller than its Tysons Galleria counterpart but maintains the same high-end taste with its Louboutin-packed shoe salon and evening frocks worthy of an inaugural ball.
For work dresses under $150 and stellar sales-rack finds, head to Lord & Taylor (202-362-9600; lordandtaylor.com). Well-stocked departments such as French Connection, Michael Kors, and BCBG Max Azria are never picked over.
Washington power players head to the upstairs club room at the Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Store (202-363-2059; saksfifthavenue.com). The haven for guys—complete with flat-screen TVs and a wet bar—offers Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, plus one of the best shoe selections around, ranging from classic Tod’s lace-ups to get-noticed Ferragamo sneakers.
For milestone anniversaries and heirloom-worthy timepieces, head to Cartier (301-654-5858; cartier.com). Signature styles at the French jeweler, in business more than 150 years, include the square-faced tank watch and the iconic 1970s Love bracelet, which can be opened only with a tiny screwdriver.
Girls of all ages love a tiny blue box from Tiffany & Co. (301-657-8777; tiffany.com). Classic elegance comes in the form of key pendants, sterling silver bean charms, and simple diamond solitaires.
The creator of some of history’s most coveted handbags, Louis Vuitton (301-654-1101; louisvuitton.com) is also the place to shop for high-quality travel gear. Suitcases and trunks of all sizes and styles line the walls; smaller glass cases are filled with leather passport wallets, personal calendars, and jewelry and cosmetic pouches.
For a night-out shoe, look to British line Jimmy Choo (240-223-1102; jimmychoo.com), famous for knee-high boots and strappy sandals with pencil-thin heels. Check out designs in leopard print and lipstick red.
The Italian house Gucci (301-986-8902; gucci.com), the power-dressing set’s go-to for modern-sexy accessories, is filled with equestrian-inspired boots, snakeskin clutches, and bamboo-accented work bags and totes. Don’t miss the wall of sunglasses or the impressive selection of men’s sneakers.
Also try: Christian Dior (301-986-8715; dior.com) for quilted leather purses and va-va-voom French heels.