Flower Power

Everything’s coming up roses—and lilies and larkspurs—this spring. Flower motifs appear on dresses, bags, jackets, shoes, scarves and jewelry. A colorful floral piece can help transition a winter wardrobe to spring even if the mercury doesn’t cooperate. Here are some of our favorite floral finds.

Molded resin bloom stud earrings in various colors and sizes, $12 to $14 at LouLou in Bethesda (scheduled to move from 7125 Bethesda Lane across the way to 7126 Bethesda Lane at the end of February, 301-652-0048) and online at www.loulouboutiques.com

Blooming Bib Necklace in acrylic, glass and metal, $48 at Anthropologie (5406 Wisconsin Ave., 301-654-1481) and Anthropologie Shoes & Accessories (5402-C Wisconsin Ave., 301-652-1056), both in Chevy Chase, and online at www.anthropologie.com

Pink and gray floral leggings from BDG, $29 at Urban Outfitters in Bethesda (Westfield Montgomery Mall, 7101 Democracy Blvd., 301-469-6025) and online at www.urbanoutfitters.com

Large quilted Vera Bradley duffel in yellow, black, white and gray “Go Wild” floral, $85 at The Cottage Monet in Rockville (Rockville Town Center, 36 Maryland Ave., 301-279-2422) and online at www.verabradley.com

What’s in the Hopper

Area residents enjoy a night on the Hopper.Taxis are pricey and Metro unreliable, but from 9:30 p.m. to 3:15 a.m. on weekends, you can now count on the DC Hopper to make runs between Bethesda and the local nightlife hubs of Georgetown and Dupont Circle.


The brainchild of Winston Churchill High School grads Brandon Yu and Alex Middel, the Hopper is a door-to-door shuttle service that becomes cheaper when you travel with friends.

Going solo, it costs $24; for two, it’s $20 each; and for three, $16 each, traveling from Bethesda or back. That sum also gets you a wristband with extra perks, like no bar covers and special drinks at participating bars and clubs.

On weekend nights, the Hopper shuttles anywhere from 40 to 100 people back and forth from Bethesda to D.C.


Hop stops are at St. Elmo and Norfolk avenues, across from Hanaro Restaurant in Bethesda; 1218 Wisconsin Ave. in Georgetown; and at 18th Street and Connecticut Avenue across from the Public Bar in Dupont Circle.

Tickets are available via Square app or on the bus. For the schedule, go to www.TheDCHopper.com or call 240-406-9082. For real-time updates on shuttle whereabouts, Twitter@TheDCHopper.

Fleet and Famous

Getting a shout-out as one of the 50 best running gear stores in the country involved a bit of cloak-and-dagger.


Secret shoppers descended on Fleet Feet in Kentlands to gauge the family-owned business’ worthiness of the honor. This was the last hurdle, so to speak, in a 2012 contest run by Competitor Group, a media and entertainment company that focuses on endurance sports.

To make final cuts, secret shoppers evaluated their experience from how they were greeted to how knowledgeable salespeople were about shoes and fit to how they were treated after making a purchase. Local events, training programs and vendor/customer comments were also taken into account.

Opened by runners and former CPAs Chris and Robyn Gault in 2005, the 2,800-square-foot Gaithersburg outpost of the nationwide franchise is known for its running shoes and moisture-wicking apparel. Beyond that, the store offers running clinics, training programs, weekly group runs and other events. All of which added up to a winning combination.


255 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg, 301-926-6442, www.fleetfeetgaithersburg.com

It’s in the Bag

Anne Sylvain purse, $1,350 at Saks JandelTrue fashionistas are always ahead of the style curve. And just for them, Anne Sylvain’s “Le Mans Collection” at Saks Jandel in Chevy Chase has that on-the-cusp “it” bag feel.

Inspired by sports cars and crafted with exotic skins, then lined in bright suedes (think plum and cerulean), the bags are hand-stitched and made in the U.S. Patricia Raskin, a business-lawyer-turned-handbag-designer, named the company for her paternal grandmother, an artist and fashionista who lived in Northern Virginia, and her maternal grandfather, a Russian émigré and lawyer. To make your bag even more of a one-off, choose custom colors and leathers and have it stamped inside or out with your initials. The collection—which also includes key fobs and wallets—ranges in price from $50 to $2,350.


5510 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, 301-652-2250, annesylvain.com

A Kinder, Gentler E-Reader

Book-lovers can go the e-reader route with a clear conscience at Politics & Prose.

The Northwest D.C. independent bookstore is now selling three models of Kobo e-readers. And when customers purchase an e-book via the Kobo e-bookstore, a portion of the sale goes to Politics & Prose.


The bookstore, which has been selling e-books for two years, decided to take the step after noting that many regulars have become “hybrid” readers, buying print books while also downloading e-books.

The store is carrying the lightweight Mini ($79.99), which fits in your hand or pocket; the slightly bigger Glo ($129.99), which mimics the look and feel of a paperback; and the Tablet ($199), akin to an iPad mini. Best of all, you can sync your library with other devices such as the iPad and Android.

5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 202-364-1919 or 800-722-0790, www.politics-prose.com


Designers for Less

Photo by Laura E. WilsonEven in expensive ZIP codes, savvy girls are watching their Louis Vuitton pocketbooks these days when looking for designer wardrobe items. Best way to do that: by hunting for high-end consignment bargains.

Rita G’s Chapter Two Boutique, named for owner Rita Gendelman, is the newest Bethesda store for pre-owned designer handbags, jewelry, scarves, shoes and clothes, at a fraction of their original prices.

The former NIH cancer researcher has always been passionate about fashion— she refused to relinquish her Gucci sunglasses and Manolos even when coaching her daughter’s third-grade soccer team. And with its antique tables, her creamy-walled shop feels more like a boutique than a consignment cave.


“I’ve always loved bags and shoes because they always look good on you. You don’t have to worry about fit,” Gendelman says. That’s why you’ll find an aqua-green Marc Jacobs hobo for $375, and a Lady D. Dior black satin Swarovski-crystal- studded bag for $800 at her shop.

Prices mostly run $150 to $500 and labels include Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Kate Spade, Escada, Hermes and Chanel. These last two are always in high demand, Gendelman says. Sellers can track their consignments online.

4931 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-718-7200, ritagfineconsign.com


Meanwhile, Chic to Chic, the Gaithersburg consignment phenom, has partnered with SNOBSWAP.com, the D.C.-based online swap/sell/buy marketplace for pre-loved designer clothing and accessories. Now, Chic to Chic’s inventory will be available on SNOBSWAP’s easy-to-navigate website.

“We are always looking for ways to make it easier for our customers to shop,” says Ellen Didion, president of Chic to Chic.

Some recent finds on the site: Prada leopard pony-hair flats ($124.95 or best offer; retailed for $450), a Louis Vuitton doctor-style handbag ($599 or best offer; retailed for $1,350), Stella McCartney black leather boots with studs ($399 or best offer; retailed for $755) and Trina Turk silk blouse ($34.95; retailed for $140).


15900 Luanne Drive, Gaithersburg, 301-926-7700, www.chictochic.com


The much-beloved Bruce Variety, a Bethesda fixture for 60 years, closed its Arlington Road location in mid-January and was scheduled to reopen at 8011 Woodmont Ave., in February.

Bonobos, the stylish men’s clothing purveyor which had a pop-up store on Bethesda Lane before the holidays, has closed and was relocating to Cady’s Alley in Georgetown.


LouLou, the popular accessories boutique on Bethesda Lane, was scheduled to move into the Bonobos (formerly Urban Chic) space at the end of February (across from its current location).

Meanwhile, DJ Bennett, the online luxury sportswear retailer, has opened its first store in Chevy Chase Pavilion in Chevy Chase (open by appointment only, 800-587-5804 and 202-524-4488).

Cynthia Hacinli has written for Washingtonian, National Geographic Traveler and The New York Times and lives in Friendship Heights.