DC Boutique Owners Dish: Where Do You Shop Besides Your Own Store?

We ask the women who stock Washington’s coolest boutiques where they go when they’re buying for themselves.

Hu’s Wear owner Marlene Hu Adalba shops for hard-to-find Institu Estherderm products on Photograph of Hu by Scott Suchman

You already know your favorite boutique owner has a knack for filling her shop with crowd-pleasing pieces. But where did she get that fabulous top she’s wearing? We polled seven of the area’s most stylish store owners on their go-to spots for stocking their own closets and makeup drawers. Read on to see where they head when it’s time to turn their sharp buyer’s eye inward.

Kelly Muccio, owner of Lost Boys

Carol Mitchell: “Carol is the best at curating couture. Only the most swoon-worthy styles from Dolce & Gabbana to Prada to Roland Mouret. Every time I walk in, I feel like I’m at Fashion Week all over again, and styled in her killer dresses I always leave runway-ready.”

Relish: “Hands down my favorite women’s store in DC. The trick here is to search for the most outrageous separates and then have a blast styling them for day-to-night. Style tip: Consider Casey, an amazing stylist there, your partner in crime for choosing looks that only you can pull off.”

Agent Provocateur: “I stumbled upon this vampy British lingerie store while living in New York, and the online flagship is just as daring. Sexy lace, playful knickers, and femme fatal cutouts . . . this collection is awesomely burlesque and never disappoints.”

Krista Johnson, owner of Ella-Rue

Tully Rector (Middleburg, VA): “A store from my hometown. Karen, the owner, does the best buys in the area. She carries Nanette Lepore, Milly, Trina Turk, Tibi. She buys so differently than other stores, and has the best collection every season.”

Blue Mercury: “I love that they have Laura Mercier and Fresh. You can spend something or nothing in there, and [either way] they’ll treat you like royalty.” Johnson especially loves the staff, because “they’re very friendly and knowledgeable.”

Georgetown Flea Market: “You will never believe the finds I get there—anything from a 1920s vintage crystal beaded belt to a mink stole. Little-known fact: I am also a book collector, and [it’s there that I] find the best books.”

Tiffany Burris, owner of Studio85

Nordstrom Rack: “I’m a discount junkie, and you can get all the designer stuff for less! I am someone who will wait months for something to go on sale (fashion should never put a dent in the rent!), and I don’t mind going on an all-over store search.”

Michael Kors: “I do have my guilty pleasures, and Michael Kors is one of them. I collect his watches, bags, and anything else I can get my hands on. His designs are American classics, with just enough edge. Plus I have no doubt that the pieces will last.”

Online, Burris recommends Shop Posh Boutique—“they always have a great selection of Honesty jewelry”—and Francesca’s Collections, which she says is “great for gifts.”

Lindsay Buscher, owner of the Urban Chic boutique chain

Sassanova: “I will hit up all three locations for their amazing selection of accessories. I love their bangles and bracelets—I just layer them on. They also have a great selection of kid shoes.”

Lululemon: “If I’m not wearing clothing from Urban Chic, I am in Lululemon! I’m obsessed with their pants and jackets. I think the smaller details, like ruffles on the back of the jackets and the bottoms of the pants, make their clothes more fun to work out in.”

Marlene Hu Aldaba, owner of Hu’s Shoes and Hu’s Wear

Good Wood: “I love the way the store is merchandised, and the eclectic mix of offerings. A place to find pieces that are one of a kind.”

Insight: “Best selection of unique and hard-to-find frames.”

Home Rule: “They have everything you need for the home and kitchen but with a flair.”

Space NK: The British retailer’s Web site “stocks hard to find products that I love, like Institut Esthederm from Paris.”

Elizabeth Mason, owner of Periwinkle Boutique

Kate Spade: “Both online and at the Georgetown store. I love the classic, feminine looks.”

Simply Soles: “I shop at Simply Soles in National Harbor for fabulous shoes. [They have] a great selection of perfectly heeled shoes for someone [who is on her] feet all day long.”

Bloomers in Shirlington Village: “I love the selection of loungewear and lingerie—it is what women really wear!”

Carmen Lopez, owner of the Current Boutique chain

ShoeFly: “They carry shoe lines like Jeffrey Campbell and Dolce Vita, which I love.”

Treasury: “They have great vintage accessories, and it’s so much fun to shop there.”

ShopStyle: “My go-to place for online shopping. If I’m looking for a long-sleeve purple silk blouse, I just type in exactly what I’m looking for, and it will give me hundreds of options. Love it!”