News & Politics

Best of Bethesda 2013: Where to Shop

Cool contemporary jewelry, handcrafted stationery, and the perfect shade of lipstick.

Ginger is one of several independent clothing boutiques in Bethesda. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Shoes: Standard Kate Spade kitten heels and
Tory Burch flats are de rigueur at Sassanova (7134
Bethesda La.; 301-654-7403), but don’t overlook the cute boutique’s other
footwear offerings from brands such as Bettye Muller, Loeffler Randall,
and Pour la Victoire. It even stocks Princess Kate’s favorite line of
shiny pumps from L.K. Bennett. When you’ve found your shoes, check out the
colorful costume jewelry from names including Suzanna Dai (we’re loving
her bright stones for day and evening) and Marlyn Schiff. Among the new
spring accessories are bold bib necklaces by Roarke.

Antiques: Design-conscious suburbanites rave
about the understated, simple pieces at Tone on Tone
(7920 Woodmont Ave.; 240-497-0800), most of which are Swedish antiques
from the 18th and 19th centuries that have been painted and lovingly
restored. The store’s “greige” paint palette amplifies the beauty of these
elegant-with-a-hint-of-shabby-chic items, from a delicate settee with
detail wood trim to a whitewashed secretary-style desk with worn knobs and
a distressed patina. A pair of armchairs from France have just the right
wear and tear, as though left out in the sun on a Parisian balcony. In
case you can’t tell, we want everything here.

Beauty: With makeup from Bobbi Brown, Chanel,
Laura Mercier, and Nars, Bluemercury (7105 Bethesda La.;
301-986-0070) is the ultimate spot for a beauty junkie to while away a few
hours. Don’t overlook the state-of-the-art skin care (including a few
Clarisonic products) or hair care (we keep a can of Oribe’s dry
texturizing spray in our bag at all times). The sales staff has all the
answers and is eager to help you find the right shade of Trish McEvoy
lipstick or the ideal spring Deborah Lippmann nail polish.

Gifts: While we often think of
Ginger (7114 Bethesda La.; 301-664-9242) for fashionable
apparel—it carries an extensive selection of Joie, one of our favorite
labels—we also come for the wide range of stylish gifts. Home goods from
Jonathan Adler, stationery by R. Nichols, zippered cosmetic bags from
South Africa, colorful agate coasters, and case upon case of handcrafted,
delicate gold jewelry are all affordable options. Cozy and unpretentious,
Ginger also champions eco-friendly, cruelty-free, and fair-trade

Fine jewelry: Owner Amy Hugo keeps the chic
Amethyst (4808 Bethesda Ave.; 301-907-6871) filled with
just the right mix of fine contemporary jewelry, be it a colorful ring by
Lauren Harper, a sleek drop pendant from Indian designer Kothari, or a
stack of studded Stephanie Albertson gold bracelets. Pieces typically
hover in the $3,500-to-$7,000 range, and a small section toward the back
includes earrings and daytime options for less than $200. Warning: The
handcrafted pieces are so unusual and modern, you’ll likely give up
department-store jewelry shopping and become an Amethyst

Consignment and resale: With the summer
opening of the Bethesda branch, Current Boutique (7220
Wisconsin Ave.; 301-222-1114) now has four Washington-area locations. The
selection here is similar to that of the sister properties, with a mixture
of new apparel and gently used consigned clothes organized by style and
size—fun and flirty Diane von Furstenberg, modern BCBG, standard Tory
Burch fare.

A close runner-up is Reddz Trading (7801
Woodmont Ave.; 301-656-7333). On a busy corner with giant street-facing
windows and a snappy display of mannequins, Reddz isn’t consignment—you
get your money on the spot when your trendy castoffs are accepted for

Another option on the consignment scene targets pregnant women,
who are often tired of buying expensive maternity clothes they quickly
won’t need again: Wiggle Room (4924 Del Ray Ave.;
301-656-5995) provides a nice buy/sell option.

Jeans: Bethesda has plenty of well-stocked
women’s boutiques, but Luna (7232 Woodmont Ave.;
301-656-1111) leads in the jeans department. A section near the front and
a larger space at the back are filled with all sorts of styles and fits,
from such labels as DL1961, 7 for All Mankind, Hudson, Mother, Genetic
Denim, AG, J Brand, and Joe’s Jeans. A young and fashion-savvy staff
provides expert guidance, politely suggesting flattering cuts and pointing
to on-trend styles for the season.

Gourmet goodies: When
Secolari (7249 Woodmont Ave.; 301-652-7006) opened on
this busy drag, Bethesdans readily embraced the artisanal olive oils,
vinegars, and gourmet pastas. A cozy boutique and tasting room lined with
urns of flavored oils and rich balsamic vinegars, Secolari feels part
workshop, part Tuscan marketplace. Staff is happy to treat you to tasting
flights, where you can sample such unusual flavors as habanero or lime
olive oil or blackberry-pepper and Champagne-mimosa vinegar. Pastas are
made in Denver by a small producer—fill your pantry with lemon-chive angel
hair and dark-chocolate linguine.

Wine: You may already know Vino
(7243-7247 Woodmont Ave.; 301-656-0916) from its airport
outposts—travelers can pop in for tastings in several cities around the
country. But this Bethesda location, which opened in November, is the
company’s first true brick-and-mortar store. A restaurant, tasting bar,
and wine shop in one, Vino Volo (which means “wine flight” in Italian)
provides the perfect spot to sip, sample, and buy from a selection of
close to 200 bottles.

Similarly, Cork & Fork (7110 Bethesda La.;
301-841-7204) offers a vast selection. The expert staffers (who talk about
wine without the obtuse snootiness often found at these types of places)
are genius at putting together impressive gift baskets. No more excuses
for showing up at a dinner party empty-handed.

Country decor: You don’t need to have a second
home to appreciate Urban Country (7117 Arlington Rd.;
301-654-0500), but owner Rachelle Roth has stocked this airy store with
the sort of overstuffed casual furnishings that would feel just right at a
rural retreat—one with a roaring fireplace and ceilings high enough for a
four-poster bed. Room setups offer inspiration for spaces of differing
scales. You can order custom projects such as sofa coverings or
curtains—or enlist one of the staff interior decorators for hands-on

Affordable accessories: It probably says
something that the quaint chain Lou Lou is moving this
month from its current spot (7125 Bethesda La.; 301-652-0048) across the
way to Urban Chic’s old space (7126 Bethesda La.), which is six times the
size. If you’re looking for an earring, scarf, hat, bracelet, or necklace
and can’t find it here, we wish you luck—it probably doesn’t

Fitness gear: Purveyor of the unofficial
Bethesda uniform, Lululemon Athletica (4856 Bethesda
Ave.; 301-652-0574) is known for fashionable, fun, and practical workout
wear. New to the brand? Don’t miss the Wunder Under yoga pants or the
Groove and Astro styles, whose colorful waistbands coordinate with the
brand’s Devotion T-shirts or racer-back tanks. You’ll also find the latest
and greatest in yoga mats and accessories.

Furniture splurge: Both contemporary and
antique furniture and accessories mingle at Random
(7766 Woodmont Ave.; 301-280-2777). Just roaming around
the displays is enough to inspire your inner interior decorator. A
beautifully polished console table pairs exquisitely with a light-blue
ceramic lamp, while a throw pillow on a plush love seat picks up hues from
the rug beneath it. But don’t get too carried away by the fantasy—most
items here range from $500 to $2,500.

Stationery and invitations: In addition to a
bustling event-planning business, Creative Parties (4822
St. Elmo Ave.; 301-654-9292) is the best place to find a staggering
variety of paper goods, including personalized writing paper, charming and
whimsical invitations, handcrafted announcements, even place cards, menus,
and programs. A new location on the ground floor of an office building
means a decidedly updated interior—you’ll find perusing the boxes of cards
and shelves of cute gifts to be a much more pleasing

Cookware: We’d bet our best soufflé that you
won’t find a cook who doesn’t rave about Le Creuset (7116
Bethesda La.; 301-718-1885). The famed French cookware company has been
the leader in enameled cast-iron kitchen essentials for decades, and the
Bethesda shop is stocked with just about every product it makes in an
array of colors, from the signature orange-red Flame color to bright
Marseille blue. Staff is also on hand to break down the collection—start
with a Dutch oven and go from there.

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