Party-Ready Playbook

A public relations professional shares her winning moves for looking good at events

PR guru Barbara Martin opts for a style with loose curls when she gets her hair done at Drybar in Bethesda. Photo by Abby Greenawalt

Barbara Martin is the force behind some of the most glamorous events in town, from hotel and restaurant openings to brand launches. She counts SoulCycle, Birchbox, Varnish Lane and Sweetgreen among her clients. If you happened to catch one of the fashion shows on Bethesda Row and ran into Jessica Alba or Andy Cohen shopping there, you can thank Martin.

Martin’s public relations firm, The Brand Guild, which she co-founded in Bethesda with co-CEO Jayne Sandman, turns 10 this year. The firm is now located in D.C. and New York City and has more than 40 employees. It’s not unheard of for Martin to attend events every night of the week.

It’s Martin’s job to show up looking appropriately fantastic, and to ensure that her clients do, too, which means that over the course of her career she’s built one of the most enviable contact lists in the business. We reached out to the wife, mother and entrepreneur, who lives in Bethesda’s Bannockburn neighborhood, for her top tips and favorite spots for getting party-ready.

  • Glo30: “[Founder] Arleen Lamba has figured out how to make monthly facials a part of your life—and they really, really work. I swear by their GloUp sunscreen and moisturizer.” 4915 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 855-456-3030,
  • Bluemercury: “My go-to nightly skin care duo is the Fresh Soy Face [Exfoliant] ($43) and their M-61 PowerGlow Peels ($30).” 7105 Bethesda Lane, Bethesda, 301-986-0070,
  • Christophers Glen Echo Hardware and Glen Echo Pharmacy: “I could truly live in the Glen Echo Shopping Center as it has everything I need, and these two places bookend it. The pharmacy is old-school and has everything, from Mason Pearson hairbrushes to OPI nail polishes to birthday cards. The hardware has literally everything else. (No, really. Just try them.)” Christophers Glen Echo Hardware, 7303 MacArthur Blvd., Bethesda, 301-229-3700,; Glen Echo Pharmacy, 7311 MacArthur Blvd., Bethesda, 301-299-5656,
  • Drybar: “A blowout at Drybar is my post-SoulCycle Saturday staple. I always get the ‘Cosmo’ [loose curls], which still looks good the next day.” 4840 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, 240-483-4277,
  • Fortunas: “I take all of my shoes here once a year, never fail. I’ve now paid more for fixing my 4-inch black Manolo BBs than I did when I originally bought them.” 7835 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-654-2533,
  • G Street Fabrics: “During the winter/early spring, I’m constantly making Peeps dioramas for my clients [#guildedpeeps on Instagram] and [as commentary on] the political landscape [@wethepeeple on Instagram]. G Street is the most colorful spot in MoCo and a great place to stroll for both fashion and craft inspiration.” 12220 Wilkins Ave., Rockville, 240-283-8300,
  • Neiman Marcus’s Last Call Sale: “My ride or die. Not the Last Call stores, the actual Last Call sale in their Chevy Chase store. Some of the best items in my closet have come from there.” 5300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 202-966-9700,
  • Luna: “For fun jewelry. We had a client who was wearing a necklace from here. I took a photo of it, texted it to my husband and made him drive to Luna to get it—and then made him box it up and give it to me for Christmas.” 7232 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-656-1111,