DC’s unexpected gem: Fashion Boutiques in Old Town Alexandria

Everyone loves a good boutique clothing district. Those elusive hip areas where you can simply be dropped off to wander for a few hours, window to window, looking at all the covetous displays they have to offer, stopping only for coffee or a glass of wine. Georgetown is DC’s best known shopping district, 14th Street is the new up-and-comer, but old Town Alexandria? Could the land of 18th century vases, Americana knick knacks and neoclassical armchairs also be a center of DC fashion? I mean, one of the three pictures on their shopping webpage is simply balls of yarn. Yikes.

golden retriever couture?

Turns out Mr. Washington’s neighborhood is hipper than I thought. In addition to having a vibrant art scene anchored by the famous Torpedo Factory (Alexandria was named one of the top 5 mid-sized art cities in 2010 by the United States by American Style magazine), the shopping is fantastic. The thing is, 1) most of their best shops are on side streets, not on King Street and 2) most affordable options are hip consignment. Here are my favorites, with plenty of pictures and little copy:

Treat (103 S. Saint Asaph Street):

Treat is an interesting little store. A very small space with a highly edited collection, it is a sample sale boutique. That is, they offer designer brands at sample sale prices they find by looking through overstocked inventory, end of season specials and discontinued designs. Designers are big, Nanette Lepore, Phillip Lim, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Theory and many others, and so are the discounts.  Most importantly, the clothes are wonderful. I have a Groupon and have been saving it for Fall.

Mint Condition (114 S. Royal Street):

Mint Condition is a very cute modern consignment boutique. Nestled in a townhouse with ivy covered walls, the first thing you notice about the inventory is the color. Granted I went during summer, but there were many beautiful colors and patterns set against the well lit space. Items are normally a third of the standard retail value and designers tend to be high end, similar to those found at Treat with big names like Chanel and Chloe scattered about. It’s level of inventory is a perfect middle ground between Treat and Current, and operates on two floors of a townhouse.

Current Boutique (1009 King Street):

Oh Current Boutique. I saw you when I lived in Clarendon and now once again in Alexandria. Current Boutique is a consignment shop. Like Mint Condition, the pieces err on the side of modern, rather than  vintage and there is ALOT of inventory. However, unlike other consignment shops, the whole place is nicely organized by size. The brands range quite a bit, from BCBG, Alex & Olivia and Diane Von Furstenberg to more mainstream pieces of Anthropologie and Free People. The prices are often between $50-$100 for dresses, so not expensive but not super cheap either: a cute but deadly combination.

Diva Designer Consignment (116 South Pitt Street):

Diva is probably the most eclectic of the boutiques. A consignment-vintage store made out of a refurbished townhouse, it is 3 stories of clothes and accessories hanging in every possible open space. The whole place is warm and inviting, but is a bit all over map in terms of style,  so be warned, its gems require a bit more digging than the others, especially if you venture into the basement sale section. There are also tons of pictures of Diva, the little dachshund for which the store was named. A nice, personal touch.

Finally if you are not already shopped-out, Hysteria carries big name brands like Nanette Lepore, at regular prices. The selection is exquisite, but very expensive. Further afield (not walkable from Old Town), Periwinkle also carries beautiful designer clothes and is worth a look. Even if its just the sale rack.

Thanks to the boutiques’ websites and facebook pages for the photos! And Alexandria for the retriever couture pic!

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