Category Archives: Guest Bloggers

Cleaning Out the Closet

One of the primary services I offer my clients as a Personal Shopper is the twice a year closet consultation.  I help them remove items that are worn or out of date, identify new items that would enhance their wardrobe, and put together new outfits from pieces they already own.  Even though I do this for my clients, it is somehow a struggle to do it for myself.  But this fall, I knew it was time.  I did a very thorough cleaning out and came up with a couple of large bags of stuff to get rid of.  Some of it was trash (should I mention that almost ALL of those pieces were worn out things I had only purchased a year or so ago from the large chain “discount” stores?  Where’s the value in that?!)  But I had some really nice things, barely worn and still very much in style.  So I contacted Mint Condition, an upscale consignment store and made an appointment.

Today I went in with my items and my two kids.  I’ve consigned before but I was really pleased with the service I received.  The ladies were very helpful, sweet to my somewhat wild children, and got me in and  out in a matter of minutes.  I will receive 50% of whatever they sell the items for in the first 60 days and half the sale price for the 30 days after that.  I can pick up whatever doesn’t sell as long as I go in before the 90 days is completely up and, if I don’t want it, they will donate it for me.  So I’m making money on stuff I can’t use anymore (which helps me purchase new items for fall!) and being kind to the environment offering the stuff to be reused. 

I should mention that I chose Mint Condition because of the cute stuff they have in there already.  I knew they’d be a good option for getting my pieces sold.  And I just might have to use some of that money right in their own store.  The pewter metallic Cynthia Steffe tunic hanging in the window was right up my alley.  And, if you’re looking to go really upscale, they had an iconic Chanel skirt suit in ivory, size 42 for $1800.  A steal, believe me, even at that price.  But I did notice it is scheduled to go to $900 on 9/1.  You can always wait and take your chances!

The Perfect Shopping Saturday

I have lived in the DC area for nearly seven years. Yet, even though I am admittedly a shopaholic, it is a rare weekend that I ever venture outside of Old Town Alexandria. Why should I? A quick jaunt through the Old Town Boutique District always meets my shopping needs.

When you can find a dress straight from this season’s runway at a boutique like Treat or Hysteria and a pair of handmade leather heels from an exclusive Italian designer at Shoe Hive, the argument for getting in my car to drive 20 minutes on the beltway to a shopping mall or to head to Georgetown to fight for parking suddenly loses credulity.

I am not lazy. As the owner of a new small business, I work crazy hours and am glued to my Blackberry and laptop. My weekends are much coveted free time to hang out with my husband and relax.

For me, there’s nothing better on a Saturday morning than rolling out of bed, hopping on my Dutch-style bicycle, and heading to Old Town for the Farmer’s Market followed by an afternoon of shopping in the hidden gems of the city’s boutiques.

So, over the past two Saturdays, I formulated a mini quest to chart out the perfect shopping Saturday in the Old Town Boutique District. I had intended to do this in one day. Yet, I was faced with the difficulty of this venture by its sheer magnitude because there are 28 shops in the Old Town Boutique District.

I love the idea of shopping local, both to support the city’s economy and to explore the unknown within the familiar. I’m always amazed at the selection of unique design, impeccable craftsmanship, and sheer variety available with the shops that comprise the Old Town Boutique District.

Combining data from my two samples, here is my personal ideal shopping Saturday in the Old Town Boutique District. Since I am a fashion addict, this list is exclusively clothing and accessory-related, and covers only a small fraction of the other shops in this group. There is no purchase necessary on my Saturday agenda, as most of the fun (and hence angst for my husband) is in wandering around to discover things.

  • Begin with a leisurely coffee at Grape and Bean.
  • Get a designer consignment fix at either Mint Condition or Diva.
  • Browse finds from this season’s sample sales at Treat.
  • Wander up King St to stock up on makeup and beauty products at Bellacara, then check out lingerie and sleepwear at Bloomer’s (secret: it’s also the best place in the DC area to find Spanx).
  • Walk down to Arts Afire or Fibre Space to admire their handcrafted goods.
  • Heading back down King St, saunter down St Asaph St to look in window of Fitness on the Run in order to contemplate whether or not to trade in gym membership for a private studio.
  • While pondering fitness goals, go to Red Barn Mercantile to browse their quirky and unique home furnishings.
  • Favoring the fitness value of walking via window shopping, walk five blocks to S. Fairfax St. to check out selection of designer clothes at Hysteria.
  • Walk a quarter of a block south into a cute little brick courtyard to admire (and inevitably try on) shoes from familiar and little known designers at Shoe Hive.
  • Finally, drag tired feet a few more blocks north and then east to buy a much-deserved piece of dark chocolate or other sweet treat from The Sugar Cube.

My next quest? To tackle La Cuisine and their myriad of cooking resources.

Shoes, shoes, and more shoes (and jewelry and handbags, too!)

I stopped in The Shoe Hive yesterday to check out the incoming fall shoes as well as the sale stuff.  The Shoe Hive is hands-down my favorite store in OT.  I always go here first when I’m looking for shoes, both for my clients and for me.  They also have great jewelry and handbags.  The thing about shopping at The Shoe Hive is this- shoes always fit and never make you feel fat.  So you’re pretty much guaranteed to come out feeling happy.  And, as usual, I did.  There were some great sale deals but I was pretty focused on the new stuff.  There are already gorgeous selections from Kate Spade, Butter, Cynthia Vincent, Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg and more.  Topping my list were some orangey rust-colored heels by Butter (style name “Snookie,” presumably from the Jersey Shore which is hilarious) that are luxurious and sexy, a chocolate brown lace Kate Spade heel perfect for sophisticated cocktails, a gray clog-inspired heel by Cynthia Vincent that will look perfect with jeans, and the cutest shimmery blue leather clutch/wallet by Tory Burch.  The list goes on but those were my favorite.  The store is beautiful, the selection impeccable, and the service stellar.  I left with a purchase, as always, and can’t wait to go back in a couple of weeks to see what other exciting items have arrived.

Manliness – Available Locally

By Joe Egerton, Arts Afire

I love living in Alexandria and shopping in Old Town because it is so international here.  For instance, I like a line of fragrances from Italy “Santa Maria Novella”, the oldest farmacia in Italy.  They make a scent “verbena” that is great for summer. However, it’s really hard to find. There’s a shop in Tysons Galleria that carries the product, but they seldom have this particular scent that I like.  Then, I can order it from a company in NYC spending about 30 mins. online and paying $12 to have it shipped in addition to the $110 for the product.  Just yesterday, I stopped at Bellacara and asked if they carried anyting with “verbena” in it.  Within minutes I was given the choice of a British product “Fresh” and I was able to achieve my desire.  I purchased a great scent for $75.00 (no shipping and spending only 5 minutes of my time).  You know we fellas don’t like to spend the day finding something. In and out, that’s the way we shop. Bellacara has an impressive stock of quality fragrances, more than you can find at any of the big boxes and they are so accommodating and knowledgeable.

I wonder how many men know about all the great manly fragrances and other products Bellacara carries.  If a man bothers to look good, he also wants to smell good. This is definitely a store more men should know about.