(Southern Living) -- Here's what I see as I cross the intersection of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue: a sleek woman in to-die-for jeans speaking a language I can't pin down; an iPod-toting jogger with shopping bags from a tony store; a model (or she should be) in knee-high boots and a thigh-high skirt. It's like a well-cast movie -- all the elements fit like a study in big-city fashion.
Fresh is among Georgetown's fashionable boutiques aimed at young professionals.
Is this the South? You bet. It's Georgetown at its best, trendiest, most promising. And we're here to shop (and take you with us for the fun). Follow along as we go international with names you know and local -- only the best --popping into reinvented townhomes to sample the distinctive character you only find here. Join us on a tour of my favorites.
The clothiers of Georgetown dress Presidential daughters, inaugural ball goddesses, pumps-wearing nine-to-fivers, and visitors to boot. Amid the better-known shops (look for Zara, Kate Spade, Diesel, and Lacoste), clothes junkies discover dozens of newcomers with frocks as unique as each shop's personality. Southern Living: Washington, D.C. inaugural travel planner
Originality reigns at Annie Creamcheese, a vintage emporium featuring racks with designer dresses from the 1940s to the present (3279 M Street NW.). Amid the Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix posters, you may see the famous Olsen twins snagging their sought-after style.
Follow the fashionistas who flock to these tiny upscale boutiques aimed at young professionals: Urban Chic (1626 Wisconsin Avenue NW.); Sugar (1633 Wisconsin Avenue NW.); Wink (3109 M Street NW.); and Fresh (1205 Potomac Street NW.).
Two noteworthy high-end stores cater to twenty- and thirtysomething, affluent women: CUSP by Neiman Marcus (3030 M Street NW.) and Barneys CO-OP (3040 M Street NW.). Southern Living: Cheap eats in D.C.
Bag a one-of-a-kind purse at Fornash (The Shops at Georgetown Park on M Street NW.). The brainchild of a PR executive turned handbag maven, this shop helps you choose the style, fabric, and ribbons for your own dream bag.
While Mexican folk art entices you into The Phoenix (1514 Wisconsin Avenue NW.), it's the handbags and Eileen Fisher casual wear that hold you there.
Wander down the stairs at Cady's Alley to a designer shop for preteen girls. Twixt (3319 Cady's Alley NW.) satisfies girls' trends while meeting moms' modesty standards.
Discover environmentally conscious children's clothes and accessories at Yiro (3236 P Street NW.).
It's about the bling
Two shops glitter with unusual jewelry designs -- one traditional, one contemporary.
An elegant M Street brownstone shows off snazzy gold jewelry with a patriotic and historical theme. Meet the eponymous jeweler at Ann Hand (2900 M Street NW.). Ann's original creations include an 18k gold pin, featuring an eagle resting on a genuine South Sea pearl, that's worn by first ladies, congresswomen, and diplomats.
The icy-white showroom of Jewelers' Werk Galerie (3319 Cady's Alley NW.) illustrates the talents of international jewelry artists and designers. A centerpiece cabinet holds drawers filled with unique necklaces, bracelets, and brooches crafted in unexpected materials.
Designing your interiors
Antiques and accessories shops populate the upper sections of Wisconsin Avenue, while home-decor marketplaces cluster around Cady's Alley.
It's always the 1950s in Sixteen Fifty Nine (1659 Wisconsin Avenue NW.). This midcentury modern furniture, lighting, and art showroom puts the cool back in Paul McCobb club chairs and snapshots of World War II America.
Walk through the red lacquer door to Carling Nichols (1675 Wisconsin Avenue NW.) for a serene selection of 18th- and 19th-century Chinese antiques. Their red wedding baskets make striking focal points.
The gallery Appalachian Spring (1415 Wisconsin Avenue NW.) features the crafts of American artists, including hand-turned wooden bowls, pottery, fabric art, blown-glass vases, and even kaleidoscopes.
The contemporary, clean lines of the fixtures in Boffi Studio DC (3320 M Street NW.) conjure calm hours luxuriating in home spas.
Only in D.C.
With so many spots named for George Washington, it's easy to forget the other George. Georgetown was formally established in 1751 and honored the British King George II with its name. Tobacco grew in the surrounding fields when the district incorporated the neighborhood and its university in 1871.
Brown tobacco leaves hang from the rafters of Georgetown Tobacco (3144 M Street NW.), harkening to the past. We shop here for the Venetian carnival masks.
Streetside parking is tough in Georgetown. You're better off using one of the dozen or so lots ($20 for all day) or riding the DC Circulator bus ($1) into the neighborhood, and then spending the day on foot.
A tale of four eateries
Martin's Tavern: This is where J.F.K. proposed to Jackie. An institution since the 1930s, the pub serves traditional fare (1264 Wisconsin Avenue NW.). A favorite of Washington's political elite, it's served every elected Presidential candidate since Harry Truman. Where else in the district can you tuck in an all-American buffalo burger or a comforting Welsh rarebit? Dine here soon, and you may rub elbows with our next Commander-in-Chief.
ching ching CHA: Silly name, serious Zen. Escape the bustle at this Chinese teahouse (1063 Wisconsin Avenue NW.). Take off your shoes, cozy onto a soft cushion, listen to the understated music, and be serene. Start with a cup of Dragon Well Tea ($8) and Mongolian dumplings rich with lamb ($5). The ambience soothes your woes as fast as an orange blossom opens in a teacup.
Patisserie Poupon: Climb the stairs off Wisconsin into the little French bakery that looks as if it were lifted out of the Left Bank (1645 Wisconsin Avenue NW.). Cases of baked goods clamor for your attention, while aromas of sugar and pastries entice. Don't pass up the almond croissants or the daily quiche. C'est magnifique!
Hook: This restaurant has caught a very smart trend: sustainability (3241 M Street NW.). The menu changes daily to promote only fresh and available seafood. Match that with considerable culinary talents for one of the best meals in town that you can feel good about.
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