Must Be In The Genes: Meet The Sibs Behind Our Fave New Shop

We're firm believers that good things come in pairs, particularly when it comes to fashionable families. Mary-Kate and Ashley, Theodora and Alexandra Richards, Elle and Dakota, Laura and Kate Mulleavy — you see where we're going with this, right? So, we're doubly elated that D.C. has gotten its very own shot of sisterly style—with a brand-new storefront to boot.
Meet Christina and Natalie Albina, girl-crush-worthy stylists and shop owners who were born and bred in Bethesda, and plan to call it home for the long haul. Each half of this sartorial set has a distinct way of dressing: One is edgy, tough, and eclectic with a penchant for arm-partying; while the other is polished and feminine with a preference for minimalism. But they both share a passion for helping their clients build badass wardrobes, and they gave us a special peek at their own favorite looks during a special tour of Style Etoile, their Rockville boutique. Click through to get to know this dynamic duo and peep some unreal eye candy. (You might wanna stash that credit card away first. Just sayin'…)
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How did Style Étoile get started?
Christina: "As little girls, Natalie and I always had our strong individual senses of style. After graduating from college and working in the fashion industry in New York, our passion for the business grew deeper and we decided to leave the corporate world and branch out on our own. We wanted to create a site that would inspire women all over the world, which then evolved into the brick-and-mortar store."

What's the significance of the name?
Christina: "Style Étoile means style star (étoile means star in French), and we selected this name because we love Parisian fashion and culture. You can see that in several of our looks on the site. And we want to help women bring out their true style star within. At first, we were a little worried about using another language, but we found that people in European markets really like it."


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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Did you always know this was something you wanted to do?

Christina: "Growing up, I did always know I would do something in the fashion industry. At first, I really wanted to be a designer, but I quickly learned I was not the best seamstress, so I started styling at 16 and really grew fond of creating a distinct look for all of my clients. I eventually worked in sales at Scoop and Miu Miu, but ultimately wanted to return home and use my skills to go the family-business route. My sister and I always wanted to be partners. We both studied business in college and had this entrepreneurial spirit that wasn't going to go away."

Natalie: "I've always had an interest in exercise and eating well. I've always believed the motto 'If you feel good on the inside, you look good on the outside.' On the other hand, I meet many people who want to look good on the outside in order to feel good on the inside. Starting Style Étoile with my sister was a way for me to help people feel good by putting their wardrobes together, and one day I hope to be able to work on the wellness side as well. I just enjoy helping people to feel their best."


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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On that note, what's it like to work together as sisters?


Christina: "Natalie and I have been working together in different environments for years, and we've figured out a system that works for us and our business. It is nice to work with someone who always has your back, no matter what the situation is. We complement one another because we have different skill sets. Buying merchandise for the store can sometimes be difficult because our personal senses of style are so very different, but we always compromise at the end of the day."

Eleven Objects embellished collar.


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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Who are your style icons? Where do you get your inspiration?

  
Christina: "My top five are Karl Lagerfeld, Edie Sedgwick, Coco Chanel, Lucille Ball, and Jackie O — but I get my inspiration from buying trips, mood boards, blogs, and my personal life. Most importantly, I get a ton of inspiration from music. I have a major music addiction. I can’t get enough."

What Goes Around Comes Around vintage t-shirts, Siwy studded denim shorts.


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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What kind of customer do you have in mind when you buy for the store?

Christina: "Luckily, we have a very close relationship with our customers and we ask them directly what they would like to see more of in the store and what they need in their wardrobes. The main goal at our store and on our site is to help clients select the appropriate items for their wardrobes and body types, and not to follow trends."

Natalie: "I buy things in general that I personally like, but keep my current clients in mind. Sometimes I have older, more conservative clients, and other times, I may have a completely edgy client, so we try to buy pieces that will be perfect for many closets."

If you could only wear one designer for the rest of your life, who would it be?


Christina: "This is such a difficult question, because my style is always changing. One day, I may channel Karl Lagerfeld, and the next day, I'm sporting a boho-chic ensemble inspired by Courtney Love. Or a completely conservative outfit because I have to play the role of a professional. So, it really depends on the day. Currently, I wear a ton of Nonoo."

Christina wears a What Goes Around Comes Around vintage tee, Iro pleated leather shorts, and an Eleven Objects collar.


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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How would you describe the style here in Washington?

Christina: "The style here is safe and conservative, but I can see that changing within the next few years. I feel that the area is a bit saturated with 'basic' clothing, which leaves consumers with very few options. And you always need options in fashion! 
Natalie: "I love that there are so many diverse people here and that the city is always changing. I think the style here is finally gravitating towards a New York influence."

If you had a magic wand and could stop one D.C. fashion faux pas forever, what would would it be?

Christina: "Sporting gym clothes and UGGs all day long."
Natalie: "Knock-offs."


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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Which spring trends are you most excited to try?
 Christina: "We are getting ready for tons of citrus hues, like tangerine, yellow, and red, plus pops of cobalt blue. Floral prints are all over the place from dresses to denim. We are telling clients to keep it beach-chic with a pair of cut-off jean shorts and a colorful caftan during the day. At night, opt for a short babydoll dress and a leather or sequin baseball jacket, which are big this season."

Natalie wears a Misha Nonoo blazer and dress with Miu Miu booties.


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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What's your favorite thing about Washington?

Christina: "Although I grew up in Bethesda, I am starting to get out and explore different venues in the city ranging from the parks/trails to all the different Smithsonian museums.  Every weekend could be so different here — I love the options. The museums are great if you're looking for a relaxed low-key day/evening, and I like that you can hike or kayak on the Potomac if you're looking for an adventurous outing."

Favorite place to spend an afternoon?


Natalie: "The Georgetown waterfront."

Vintage Chanel bag.


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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What designers and lines do you want people to know about?

Christina: "Over the past few seasons, I have been following a few designers that I think are going to make it BIG! We're talking expert tailoring, amazing patterns, and silhouettes that I can’t live without. Misha Nonoo is by far one of my favorite designers at the moment. Recently, she was awarded the Fashion Group International's Rising Star Award for Womenswear Design, and you can see why in all of her collections. Timo Weiland is another favorite of mine — he has been hard at work perfecting his line and you can definitely see that in his spring and fall collections. His designs are extremely creative and out-of-the-box, full of vibrant colors and extremely functional ready-to-wear pieces at an affordable price. Eleven Objects is another, because we are [suckers] for great accessories. We love the quirky duo behind the line and their collection of ornate collars and collars with sleeves."


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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Christina's impressive collection of wrist-candy.


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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What are the plans for Style Étoile over the next few years?
Christina: "We are extremely excited for the SweetLife festival coming up in April, which we attend every year. What's better than a festival with all your friends and amazing music? I get a lot of visual inspiration from the street style at concerts.
In the fall, we plan on launching 'Messieurs Étoile' — our men’s division for fashion-forward gents in the area looking to freshen up their personal style and wardrobe. We're super excited about branching out into menswear."

Natalie wears a Misha Nonoo blazer and dress with Miu Miu booties; Christina wears a Camilla and Marc leather jacket, Misha Nonoo maxi skirt, and Chanel lace booties.


Photographed by Carlos Gonzalez
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