Who they are: Lauren and Van, Necessary & Proper
Black Friday usually means a lot of people, a lot of sales, and a lot of stress. How do you tackle the day?
Lauren: "Admittedly, I am a Black Friday ingenue. I used to avoid it at all costs, but in the last few years I have come to love the deals and steals, as well as the festive feeling of it all. Now on Black Friday, my mom, sister, and I hit the department stores first — almost as soon as they open, and then move on to the specialty boutiques. I always start with the shoe rack at Saks Fifth Avenue."
Van: "A plan is a definite plus. This is not amateur hour — people spend time preparing their shopping schedules. Don't think you can just stroll into Best Buy at 10 a.m. and grab a flatscreen! If you aren't feeling up to it, just stay at home — there are great deals to be had online, too."
What’s the best neighborhood in the area to hit on Black Friday? Best shop to visit?
Lauren: "Year-round, I shop at small boutiques, but during the holiday season, I am a sucker for department stores — and that starts on Black Friday. I love the decor, music, holiday deals, and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and I really feel that vibe at my favorite department stores. That said, Chevy Chase and Tysons Corner get my vote."
Van: "You can't beat the charm of Georgetown this time of year. It's got a lot of my favorite staple brands: Jack Spade, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Barbour. There's also a lot of wonderful independent stores, like Sterling & Burke for beautiful luggage and silver; stores we don't have anywhere else, like Suitsupply; and vintage stores, like The Lantern Bookshop and the Christ Child Opportunity Shop. Vintage is a great option for holiday gifts — you know they won't have it already!"
For those who don’t want to venture outside and deal with the craziness, what’s your favorite online destination for great holiday deals?
Van: "Iomoi has fun personalized gifts online — especially the iPhone cases and lacquer trays — and I love Travelteq's fun leather and canvas bags for frequent flyers. That said, if I'm looking for myself, I'm all about the deals on eBay. As long as you know what you're looking for and know your size in a given brand, it's a great way to snag a gift or two for yourself at a great price."
Lauren: "Ah, yes — when no one could live without Uggs, I found a pair for my sister on eBay. The stores had sold out completely."
Speaking of craziness, any tips for not getting too caught up in the shopping frenzy?
Lauren: "You have to remember it is just shopping. Hard at times, I know."
Van: "It's only Friday — you have the whole weekend to shop! ...But only if you want to."
What’s your craziest Black Friday purchase to date?
Lauren: "Oh gosh, this is hard. I got a killer pair of Giuseppe Zanotti (my favorite) velvet pumps at Saks a couple years ago. I was hesitant at the time, but am so glad I made the purchase now. I would say the craziest thing about each of my Black Fridays is really in the quantity of purchases."
Van: "One year, my parents and I drove off the lot in a new car on Black Friday. That was pretty crazy."
What about malls and outlet stores? A Do or a Don’t, and why?
Lauren: "I loooove the mall during the holidays — everything is in one place, and since I hate being cold, it is ideal. I am usually in Michigan for Black Friday and hit our mall in Troy — the crowds away from the city are not that extreme or aggressive, which really makes the experience much more pleasant."
Van: "Don't, to both. If you think things get out of hand at the mall, the outlets are exponentially worse. I'd rather enjoy the day than get into a fight over a parking space! I do love outlets — especially the upscale stores in Leesburg Corner — but I think it's a good idea to wait until after Christmas. The crowds are thinner and you can go pick up whatever Santa didn't bring you."
Any last words of advice for eager shoppers?
Lauren: "Have fun, have a plan, and don't go alone — you need an extra set of hands and eyes. My mom and sister always discover things that I gloss over. Drink coffee for extra stamina. Oh, and hide your purchases in the car when you get home, so your dad cannot assess the damage."
Van: "Don't sweat it if you don't find exactly what you're looking for. I've spent many a Black Friday window-shopping and gathering ideas. It's also a great day to burn off some turkey calories or enjoy your time at home with family."
Photos: Courtesy of Necessary & Proper, Tysons Galleria