By Kelly Mae Ross - 07/06/11 11:11 PM EDT
No trip to Old Town Alexandria would be complete without some time spent browsing its myriad boutiques and antique stores. But while visitors could spend a few afternoons seeing all Old Town has to offer, there are a few must-stop gems:
An American in Paris boutique
Some people may be surprised by the way in which Solimano asks her customers to handle the clothing in her store — she actually doesn’t want her customers to handle the pieces at all, but to touch the hangers and feel the fabric only along the bottom of the clothing. But this is only because she wants each dress, blouse or skirt she sells to be in pristine condition when a customer takes it home.
The shop carries not only the smallest sizes (as is true for many French stores), but also sizes 2-14 because Solimano said she believes “every woman is absolutely beautiful in how she was born.”
An American in Paris has a little bit of everything, but Solimano’s real specialty is her selection of dresses for all occasions. This boutique is a great place to find just the right outfit for a special event (a cocktail party, rehearsal dinner, etc.).
325 Cameron St. — Latin America, meet Old Town.
The owner of the artsy shop Gossypia, Amanda Lasker, brings the colors, patterns and flare of Latin America to Old Town with her wide offering of eclectic clothing, jewelry and decorative art pieces from the region.
The store carries a wide variety of clothing made from all-natural fibers, which employees of the store explained are more breathable in warm weather.
Recurring themes throughout the store include jewelry and art featuring artist Frida Kahlo and artsy decorations adorned with dancing skeletons and vibrant colors based on the Latin American holiday The Day of the Dead.
Another specialty of this unique store is its collection of, “lovely informal, encore, and destination wedding dresses.”
Imperfections Antiques and Great Stuff
1210 King St. — The owner of Imperfections, Nancy Deitchman, has earned herself a faithful customer base because, as another woman who works at the store explained, she is a “believer and lover of things that are different,” and people trust her taste.
And what fine taste she has.
Imperfections is a small but well-organized shop. It contains an eye-catching mix of furniture, art and home decorative pieces, any one of which, if placed in a living room, would surely be a conversation starter.
While the entire store is full of great finds, the scenes of the Capitol and White House painted by artist Zakhar Sasim and displayed in the window are eye-catching and popular with customers.
The paintings (featuring Old Town exclusively at Imperfections) are done in vibrant purples, oranges and reds and make for stunning images of some of D.C.’s most well-known sites. These works, painted with oils and acrylics, come in a variety of sizes and are sure to appeal to D.C. natives and tourists alike.
118 N. Fayette St. — Shoppers will have to deviate slightly from the main shopping street in Old Town in order to find BeautyFull Boutique. But if you are a woman in the hunt for clothing size 14 and up, BeautyFull is the place for you.
BeautyFull Boutique is a consignment shop featuring “designer alternatives for the plus-sized woman.”
The boutique itself is large and spacious, with plenty of clothing racks to browse. The clean, open atmosphere makes for a pleasant shopping experience.
Women will find all types of clothing, from a large selection of blazers to a rack of formalwear dresses near the back. There is also a separate room on the floor that features shoes of various sizes, including many pairs in that ever-difficult-to-find size, 11.
Dash’s of Old Town
1114 King St. — While there are many boutiques carrying women’s clothing in Old Town, there is at least one shop on King Street that caters specifically to the needs of men. Dash’s of Old Town features exclusively Italian suits and sportswear, made by some of Italy’s oldest manufacturers of menswear.
The owner of the store, Victor Dash, has been in the menswear business since he was 14 and is determined to ensure that all of his customers look their best when they walk out of his shop.
Dash also offers his expertise in helping his customers construct an ideal outfit or wardrobe. He said he tries to build relationships with his customers — something you don’t often find in the men’s sections of larger department stores.
While the casual tourist may not have time to call ahead and schedule a full-scale appointment at Dash’s, he will want to stop in and browse the store’s large selection of fine ties and its selection of collared shirts, with stripes as colorful as the man selling them — almost.