Shop Talk

Shop Talk

Velvet, Nina McLemore and a GALA, Artisan Jewelry & Gifts

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Velvet Touch

Velvet never really goes out of style, and this season it’s showing up in everything from jeans to T-shirts, skirts to shorts, as well as cocktail dresses and evening gowns.

Look for textured burnout (in which acid etches patterns in the fabric), flocked styles and printed velvet, in addition to classic black velvet and jewel tones. Here are some inspired ways to wear it.

(From Left to Right):

  • Plum velvet Dinah cocktail dress from Ralph Lauren Black Label, $1,598 at Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase and at
  • Velvet woven goldplate chain necklace, $38 at Nordstrom in Bethesda and at
  • Burnout velvet Livian top from Diane Von Furstenberg, $198, at
  • Velvet dress with silk bodice from Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers, $850, at

Designing Woman

Nina McLemore's wool crepe Lorenzo jacket, $875; silk tank top, $325; and wool crepe skirt, $395Nina McLemore’s sedate yet stylish clothes seem tailor-made for the Bethesda area’s professional woman. So it’s no surprise she counts a number of local power brokers (Supreme Court and Cabinet members as well as corporate clients) among her customers.

After building a client base through trunk shows at her Georgetown home beginning in 2003, McLemore began opening brick-and-mortar stores. Her first was in Chestertown, Md., in October 2008. She now has stores in New York, Aspen, Nantucket, San Francisco and Seattle, as well. And last summer, she opened her first local shop at The Shops at Wisconsin Place in Chevy Chase.

Though known for her work-ready dresses, separates and casual wear in cashmere, wool, stretch cotton and silk, McLemore also has an evening collection that will be sold at the Chevy Chase store. Prices range from $150 to $695, with a portion of the profits going to charities supporting women and children, the arts, health care and education. So far $1.3 million has been donated to various  charities.

The Art of the Gift

GALA, Artisan Jewelry and GiftsLooking for holiday gifts? You might be able to one-stop shop at GALA, Artisan Jewelry & Gifts. This popular store/gallery, which recently relocated from Silver Spring to Kensington, offers all things crafty, including toys, fine art, pottery, jewelry, artisan soaps, letterpress stationery and art glass.

Jewelry artists Linda Blackbourn and Barbara Catrett own GALA, which mostly features local artists. We like the Kathryn Andrews handknit baby hats with fun embellishments and Annette Florin’s handbags, made from repurposed thrift-shop leather jackets.

Prices range from $8 for a button ring to $350 for a sapphire necklace.

10417 Armory Ave., Kensington, 301-933-2912


Gear up for winter sports at Icebreaker Touchlab, which recently opened at 4821 Bethesda Ave. in Bethesda. The sportswear store specializes in items made from soft, breathable merino wool for men, women and children.

Check out the new all-battery-powered Tesla Model S sedan at Westfield Montgomery mall (across from J.Crew on the first floor). Though you can’t take it for a test drive—the space is a permanent gallery—you can see what the fuss is all about, and gallery staff can help you custom design your own car to order online. The price of the car starts at about $60,000 and takes three to six weeks to deliver.

Symmetry Salon takes a different approach to the hair salon experience, with individual studios leased out to stylists in its new 4908 Hampden Lane space in Bethesda. Many of Symmetry’s stylists have experience at top salons in the area and offer a range of services from cutting and color to hair extensions and Brazilian straightening. Prices vary depending on the stylist and the treatment. For more information, go to

Bonobos Guideshop, a men’s clothing store, has opened at 4836 Bethesda Ave. The store is open seven days a week, but appointments with a style guide are required. Make them online at

Cynthia Hacinli lives in Chevy Chase and has written for GQ,The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler. Send Shop Talk ideas to

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