The cover story of The Washingtonian’s April issue featured a great exploration of the area’s hidden gems. And while there was lots to discover, the list was unfortunately lacking in advice from the city’s style stars (sometimes there’s just not enough room for everything good in print). But never fear! We consulted a few of Washington’s top fashion folk for tips on where the in-the-know go.
Annie Lee, owner of Pretty People Vintage
“One of my favorite places is Treasure Trove. It’s in Annandale and owned by Inova Hospital—all proceeds go to the hospital. All of the doctors’ wives and the nurses who work for the hospital bring their stuff there. They have a great turnover—every couple of weeks, it’s like a brand new store. They have housewares, clothing, books, great jewelry, really beautiful paintings. It’s kind of like a high-end thrift store. They’re very discerning about what they take in, but the prices are still affordable. I’ve gotten so many things there: really great vintage dresses that little old ladies bring in, furniture, decorative accessories for my store. It’s next to a grocery store and has a very plain strip-mall storefront, but inside, it’s amazing.”
Marlene Hu Aldaba, owner of Hu's Shoes & Hu's Wear
"Chichie's Grooming Spa in Georgetown is one of my (and my dog Ginger's) favorite places in DC. This is no chain, it's a family owned pet grooming salon that offers personal attention to your furrier family members. Their approach to pet grooming is based on your pet's body type; they're almost like dog tailors. When we drop off Ginger, everyone knows her name, and it's a loving, calm space. You know your pet is in good hands if the Obamas trust them with Bo!
Carmen Lopez, owner of the Current Boutique chain
"A true hidden gem of mine is Dominion Jewelers, located in Falls Church, which specializes in custom-made jewelry. I had my grandmother's brooch turned into a cocktail ring and a diamond bracelet turned into drop earrings. I get tons of compliments on these pieces. Take them a picture, your inspiration, or a piece of heirloom jewelry, and they will make you a true conversation piece. On top of all of this, the jewelry is priced better than other chain jewelry stores for the same quality. The store is in a small office park that is very hard to miss. The interior is modest but functional with usually a half dozen or more jewelers hand-making jewelry while you watch--part of the experience. Finally, it's a family-owned business, so make sure you have a few extra minutes when you stop by because you may get introduced to everyone."
Anna Kahoe, owner of Goodwood
"Shop-wise, I love Nana in Mount Pleasant. [Owner] Jackie Flanagan is super-innovative, and the shop is approachable, friendly, and in a cool setting. Her organic cottons are actually affordable, and I find myself wearing the retro, '60s-inspired shift dresses year round. And I love that it's in Mount Pleasant, which is one of the cutest streets in DC. It looks like Main Street America."
Angela Newnam, Founder of Knock Out Panties
"The best seamstress in Washington is Lorraine Cully at Lorraine's Sewing Center in Georgetown. Not only can she do designer clothing, but she makes Knock Out's new product prototypes."
Kyle Barber, owner of Duo and designer of the Hippie Chic jewelry line
"I hit all the thrift stores in the area--it's cool to have a story attached to the beads [in the Hippie Chic pieces]. I like Unique Thrift Store in Falls Church the best because it has the biggest turnover. I go a lot--like once a week--to pick up clip-on earrings, embellishments, bracelets, and children's jewelry to add to my own pieces."
Gretchen Hitchner, owner of Ginger, Bethesda
"My hidden gem is Combat Balm, the moisturizer/fix-everything homemade balm, which is a part of the Skincando skin-care line started by DC native Sara Demelio. I'm a snob when it comes to skin cream--I use La Mer and Revive on my face, and my mother routinely buys me the latest and greatest in skin care--but Sara convinced me to give Combat Balm a try, and now we sell it at Ginger. And every day, our tester jar gets emptied because we're slathering her creams on our dry hands and elbows. While the balm goes on slightly greasy, just give it a minute to soak in and your skin feels so soft and smooth. It's been a great discovery."
Jayne Sandman, principal at BrandLinkDC
"I'm always looking for unique items, especially when it comes to accessories. I can't wait for the Styleliner to make its first stop in DC this May. I first heard about this mobile treasure trove from friends in New York, where it has a cult following, and they say the converted bus is stuffed with one-of-a-kind accessories mostly from smaller European designers."