Old Town wins over history buffs—and Instagrammers—with its red-brick sidewalks and ye olde architecture, but in recent years, the Colonial-meets-Victorian city on the Potomac has been earning cred for its boutique scene. Some of Washington’s coolest shops for women’s fashion make their home there, often in centuries-old rowhouses.
Here are some of the best spots—plus a few pit stops—to hit on a shopping outing.
She’s Unique. White walls, sleek display cases, and a bichon in residence set a girly mood at this jewelry boutique where subtle, often affordable baubles include slender stacking rings, gold-tone initial necklaces ($20), and Zoë Comings’s ceramic-and-metal pendants and earrings. 205 King St.; 703-836-8863.
The Hive. Work-to-weekend wear with a New York–meets-LA feel fills this bright new shop, where edgy brands include Veronica Beard, Jenni Kayne, and IRO. Among the standouts on a recent visit: Ulla Johnson’s red silk peasant blouse ($415), a pink leather jacket by Veda ($897), and beaded necklace/scarves from Mignonne Gavigan. 301 Cameron St.; 703-548-7110.
The Shoe Hive. Open since 2004, Elizabeth Todd’s footwear den offers cool-girl brands such as AGL, Rag & Bone, and Paul Green, with styles ranging from peep-toe booties to Superga platform sneakers ($79). Other accessories include tough-yet-pretty antler-leather-and-bead necklaces by Twine & Twig as well as colorful scarves. 127 S. Fairfax St.; 703-548-7105.
Mint Condition. A brick rowhouse painted mint green showcases women’s designer consignment pieces with femme, preppy style. Recent finds included a tweed shift by Milly ($79) and blue velvet Tory Burch loafers with beetle ornaments ($80). Head upstairs to dig through the sale racks. 103 S. Saint Asaph St.; 703-836-6468.
Tsalt. An in-house line of drapey, goddessy dresses, tops, and tunics is supplement-ed by feminine brands such as Smythe (tailored blazers in linen, velvet, and more) and Figue (peasant blouses and “are we in Jakarta?” tunics) plus denim by cult-hit names like Frame and M.i.h. 106 N. Saint Asaph St.; 703-664-0585.
Society Fair. Easy-to-share, Mediterranean-accented dishes such as clam pizza, charcuterie, and Niçoise salad make this market-meets-bistro a good lunch stop. You can also get coffee or cocktails amid the tin-tile accents and black-and-white decor. 277 S. Washington St.; 703-683-3247.
Periwinkle. Wide-plank floors, a pink velvet antique sofa, and arched door frames set a ladylike vibe for classic-chic dresses, costume jewelry (lots of pearls), and sportswear by brands such as Rebecca Taylor and Shoshanna. Shoes, shown off on dark wood tables, include jeweled sandals and bright flats. 111 S. Columbus St.; 703-519-5242.
Duchess M. Classic-to-preppy brands you won’t find everywhere else—Joseph Ribkoff, Sail to Sable, Italy’s Cristina Gavioli—line the old-timey cabinets at this work- and cocktail-wear spot. Julie Vos’s goldstone-and-gem jewelry and crocodile clutches help complete an outfit. 805 King St.; 571-982-3118.
Bishop Boutique. In this glam space with its sparkling chandelier and blue velvet pouf, owner Kelly Ferenc displays shoes by Princess Kate fave L.K. Bennett and other designers such as hip Loeffler Randall. A smattering of accessories includes jeweled earrings and beach totes. 815-B King St.; 571-312-0042.
Uesa Goods Vintage. Vintage clothing dealer Uesa (say “U.S.”) Robinson opens her slim, second-story showroom Saturdays and Sundays, providing retro fans with 1960s jewelry, filmy 1920s gowns, and hats worthy of Mad Men spilling from a vintage suitcase. 817 King St., Suite 200; 202-258-5955.
Misha’s Coffee. Locals gossip, trade newspaper sections, and enjoy strong java (the beans are roasted on-site) at this homey, friendly hangout. 102 S. Patrick St.; 703-548-4089.
Bellacara. Dozens of lesser-known American and European skin-care and makeup lines fill a jewel-box space, where staffers are happy to demonstrate how to apply that SkinCeuticals’ serum or which Kevyn Aucoin lip gloss flatters your complexion. 1000 King St.; 703-299-9652.
The Fountains Day Spa. A snug rowhouse holds a skin-care and bodywork oasis that uses Paris’s Guinot products for services such as a Baltic mud wrap ($156 for 80 minutes) and a facial incorporating galvanic currents ($121 for 50 minutes). 422 S. Washington St.; 703-549-1990.
This article appears in the May 2017 issue of Washingtonian.