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By Lindsey A. Frederick

I love fashion and my momma always said to shop for a bargain. But where do you find affordable fashion in this town that doesn’t scoff at D.C.s all-important vibe of professionalism? When I’m on a budget, or just bored and looking for something unique, I shop consignment. So I set out on a treasure hunt to find the best D.C. thrift store finds for the working girl.

Best Fit

I found my favorite pair of Steve Madden suede ankle booties at a local shop for just $25. While I generally steer clear of finding a crisp white button down, you can find an abundance of quality professional wear. Structured pieces and most clothing staples never lose their shape or their chic. Look for:

  • Blazers and trench coats

  • Sheath dresses

  • Leather shoes and boots

  • Leather purses, clutches, and wallets

  • Costume jewelry and scarves

Worst Fit

There are, of course, pieces and fabrics that don’t hold up once they hit the racks the second time around. Avoid anything that loses shape or fades over time, including:

  • Cotton

  • Stretch cotton

  • Linen

  • Raw silk

  • Cotton sweaters

I think it goes without saying, but unless you’re the adventurous type, or looking for a specific vintage style, avoid undergarments.

Best D.C. Consignment

D.C. Has a number of consignment and vintage stores with prices ranging from budget-savvy to budget-busting. Here are your best bets for both quality and value:

Budget Savvy

Secondi, located on Connecticut Avenue in Dupont just a few blocks north of the circle, was voted City Papers’  Readers’ Choice Best Consignment Store in D.C. three years in a row. If you’re on a budget, this store offers great value for high-end brands. I found a gorgeous, Valentino A line skirt for about $60. And as a curvy girl, I was happy to see they carried sizes 0-18.

Brands: Anthropologie, Banana Republic, BCBG/Max Azria, Burberry, Chanel Christian Dior, Free People, J Crew, and Marc Jacobs. Visit secondi.com for a complete list.

Recommended items: Sheath and evening dresses; blazers and trench coats; non-cotton blouses.

Hint: Prices drop the longer they hang on the racks. Check the tags for scheduled price drops.

Treat Yo’self

If you have a few extra dollars to spend, head over to Second Time Around on M Street in Georgetown. With 40 stores nationwide, this upscale boutique offers a great assortment of designer brands in sizes 0-18.

Brands: Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Manolo Blahnik, Check out secondtimearound.net for more.

Recommended items: Blouses, blazers, skirts, purses, heels, and jewelry.

Hint: This store carries some seriously hot handbags.

Money Ain’t a Thing

If you’re looking to burning some serious cash, or are a die-hard thrifter who must have not only chic, but unique, check out Elle-Rue on P Street in Georgetown or Tari just a few blocks up on Wisconsin Avenue. Both shops have a true boutique feel, sans the musty second-hand aromas.


Brands: Betsy Johnson, Gucci, Christian Louboutin, Oscar De La Renta, Prada, Tory Burch Versace. Visit ella-rue.com for more

Recommended items: Blazers, evening wear, heels, jewelry.

Hint: Ella-Rue also carries a selection of new items.


Brands: Dolce & Gabana, Sergio Rossi, True Religion, Vera Wang. Visit taridc.com for more brands and discount offers.

Recommends: Blouses, evening wear,  leather boots, heels.

Hint: Tari also carries men’s clothing. The salespeople are super friendly and eager to make a sale, so make sure you’re in the mood to engage.