The Shopping List rummages through Smith’s latest bundle of insider city tips to highlight lesser-known shopping destinations and bring you the low-down on where and what to buy. First up: a short stay in Washington DC.
Washington DC might not shine as brightly on a fashionista’s radar as it does on the geopolitical map, but make no mistake: this city is as stylish as an imaginary First Ladies power brunch with Jackie O, Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni. There are beautiful boutique hotels, delightful delis, a requisite sprinkling of vintage emporia, and enough historic swag to fill the Smithsonian. Literally. There’s even an Alain Ducasse restaurant. But we digress.
TAKE ME SHOPPING!
For dedicated followers of big-brand fashion, the latest humdinger on DC’s style scene is the brand-spanking new outpost of Henri Bendel (here’s a quick pop culture reference to bring the less familiar among you up to speed: if Barney’s = SATC, then Henri Bendel = Gossip Girl). Bringing its trademark stripes to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, this Bendel baby rubs mall-space shoulders with BCBG, J Crew, Armani Exchange, Michael Kors et al. Henri Bendel is also our NBF since providing an awesome shopping prize for our latest competition.
Georgetown’s been around longer than DC itself, so it’s had plenty of time to develop a thriving shopping scene, with dozens of enticing boutiques springing up between buzzing bars and eateries. M Street Northwest and Wisconsin Avenue are the main drags to check out, with big boys from Abercrombie & Fitch to Zara as well as smaller independents. Try Sassanova for cute shoes and jewellery.
Hot on Georgetown’s cubans, the U Street Corridor is building up a name for itself among dedicated boutique browsers – Meeps has been fulfilling vintage fashion whims for nigh-on 20 years, as well as stocking a few local designers (Mr Smith likes the Sharpshirter T-shirts). On Sundays, don’t miss the flea market at Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market, where you’ll find anything and everything from African masks to artisinal sausages.
Knowing how you Smithsters like a slice of something extra on the side, we grilled Henri Bendel president and retail guru Chris Fiore for his top three DC tips…
• The Phillips Collection has to be the best collection of modern art in the District, with canvases by 20th-century greats such as Edward Hopper, Mondrian and Matisse in an atmospheric setting; its smaller size means its perfect for a mid-afternoon visit.
• Makoto is a super-tiny Japanese sushi restaurant (we’re talking seriously small: it has only 10 tables). The food will knock your socks off. Makoto, 4822 MacArthur Boulevard NW (U Street) (+1 202 298 6866).
• The National Gallery Sculpture Garden – part of the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall – is a must-see. In summer, they have an amazing jazz concert series, and in winter they set up an ice rink. It is amazing. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of DC, this is a year-round oasis.
Get more inspiration, find and book hotels and read restaurant reviews in Mr & Mrs Smith’s full guide to Washington DC…