Things to Do

Beauty + Fashion Events: Worth the Price of Admission?

I think it’s fair to say that after decades of being maligned for its lack of fashion and beauty sense, Washington is getting a reputation for being more stylish and in-the-know about clothes and beauty. We’ve got on-the-street-fashion blogs; we’ve got a bevy of great local designers; and we’re starting to get more fashion and beauty events.

But after attending a few of these events over the past month, I started to think more about the situation. Generally, admission to these events costs anywhere from $25 to $50. Typically, you’re paying for discounts on the products from designers and vendors at the event, plus free drinks, gift bags, and the occasional hors d’oeuvre. Not a bad deal for a night out with your girlfriends, right?

Maybe, maybe not.Two recent events I attended were, as a matter of fact, fairly disappointing from my point of view. Now I’m wondering if others thought they were worth the cost of admission. Shecky’s Girls Night Out and Beauty Night Out, which took place in the last month, had sounded promising and fun, advertising free drinks and discounts on the area’s best clothes and jewelry, plus highly-touted gift bags.

But at Beauty Night Out, at the downtown Embassy Suites Hotel, I felt that the night was a disappointing one. The food disappeared within seconds and was replenished only a few times—I managed to snag only a cracker. Lines for the cocktails were interminable; we gave up after waiting 15 minutes. It was the same with lines for the free beauty services, like facials and massages; my friend waited 35 minutes for a quick and sloppy facial that, she said, didn’t do anything for her skin. I surmised that the event was oversold; it was impossible to move without getting knocked over by somebody’s enormous handbag or suffering a claustrophobia-induced panic attack. And though I enjoyed the discounts on purses and jewelry, there were few vendors, and no must-buy specials jumped out to me. My girlfriends and I agreed afterward: It wasn’t worth the $35 paid in advance or the $45 at the door.

Shecky’s Girl’s Night Out
, while better organized, still had problems that left the night falling a little flat—including 20-minute waits for a small glass of wine or small cup of a margarita, served by excruciatingly slow bartenders. There were few clothing designers, and the dozens of jewelry lines started to blur together (though there were some beautiful, distinctive pieces). I left DAR Constitution Hall without having purchased anything, and my friend called the gift bag (which consisted mostly of small samples of acne-fighting products) “kind of a let down.” The cost of the night? $10 for general admission, and $25 for a ticket that included the gift bag.

Now, I don’t mean to sound finicky. My experience, and that of those I talked with afterward, may have been an exception. Certainly, some people at these events looked like they were having a decent time. And, of course, hanging out with your girlfriends, sipping on a drink while surrounded by jewelry and clothes, isn’t the worst way to spend an evening. But I haven’t been able to shake the nagging feeling that maybe, from what I saw, folks weren’t getting their money’s worth.

The one night I did think was worth the price of admission? The District Sample Sale back in February, which I recapped here.

Have you attended a local beauty and fashion event recently? Think I’m wrong? Agree with my sentiments? Leave a comment, or email me at candrews AT washingtonian DOT com.