Virginia Is For Shoppers: 6 Charming Shopgirls Show Off Their Chic Style

UPDATE: Summer doldrums got you in a style rut? Sometimes, all you need is a little inspiration, and these six chic boutique staffers have plenty to offer. This story was originally published on June 28, 2012.
Imagine this: You've finally found your perfect neighborhood bar. Great ambiance, cool clientele, and killer cocktails — it's your happy place and you can't go a weekend without a stop-in. Now, imagine what you'd be missing if you didn't know the bartender. We all know that the key to any good next-level experience is knowing the staff. And since our main vice (if you can even call it that) is shopping, we know just how important it is know our favorite boutique's chicest staffers.
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Last month, we brought you the most inspiring shopgirls in the District. This time, we headed south to study up on NoVa's must-meet ladies. Just like your resident mixologist, these ladies know their stuff, love their customers, and want you to step out of your (style) box — whether that means trying a new denim line or a bold orange lip. Now, what are you waiting for? Get to know these retail mavens, and take home a few of their best styling tips (for free!).
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Who she is: Allison Baird, beauty associate at Bellacara (1000 King Street, Alexandria; 703-299-9652)

How did you get the job?
"My mom was the one who saw the job listing and emailed me immediately. 'Product Junkies Wanted' was literally written on the job ad, and I knew in a second I needed to apply. After meeting all of the other employees and seeing the store, I fell in love with the atmosphere and the products. What makeup addict wouldn't want to work in a toy store for beauty-lovers? I had been spending my free time researching and learning about products, so work didn't seem like work at all! Learning about skin care and hair care was more of a joy than a task. I love doing what I do, and am so excited to be part of Bellacara and to grow with the store!"

Describe your personal style.
"My personal style is different every day! I know what I like, and it ranges across the board from vintage '40s with rolled hair and red lipstick, to city-chic with a topknot and riding boots There are so many options, and I can't help wanting to try them all. I like to keep it exciting."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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Have you bought many items from the shop?
"Since I just started working at the beginning of the summer, I had to restrain myself from cleaning off the shelves in my first week. I told myself it would probably be better if I tried skin care [products], makeup, and fragrances before I started investing. I've already created an embarrassingly long list of things I am hoping to purchase in the future."

What are your favorite products?
"My favorite products are currently endless, thanks to my product-junkie lifestyle and personality. (If I could wear four different toners and eye creams at once, I probably would, although my skin would disagree). My makeup bag should be called a makeup suitcase, because discovering and trying new makeup is basically what I live for. From working at Bellacara, I have fallen in love with Nouba cosmetics and, of course, Smashbox. Nouba's Divinouba Powder gives a flawless finish because it does not reflect light. I adore Sue Devitt's beautifully pigmented eyeshadows, and Kevyn Aucoin is dominating my dream list right now. I've recently purchased Tokyomilk Dark body souffle and bath gel, some Mario Badescu spot treatments, and an amazing brow pot from Smashbox."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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How does working at a boutique influence your own personal style?
"Working at a boutique definitely inspires me to be more unique and not fall into the hum of buying/wearing the same lipstick or item every time I run out the door. There are so many different products out there, and I have become more creative and spontaneous from working around them every day. It has allowed me to try different looks I would have otherwise been too apprehensive to try, such as hot pink lips or orange blush. You can tell a lot about a person by how they dress and look, and the whole world of beauty and fashion is amazing and exciting. I get a thrill out of being adventurous with how I present myself."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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Who she is: Gechi Robertson, assistant manager at New To You (108 West Broad Street, Falls Church; 703-533-1251)

How did you get the job?
"I was living in Providence, Rhode Island, and finding it very difficult to find work. I began applying to jobs in Northern Virginia, where I grew up, yet nothing I came across seemed quite worth leaving my life in Providence. Then I came across an opening for a full-time sales associate position at New To You. After looking at the store’s webpage, where I read [owner] Christina’s story, I knew I couldn’t let this opportunity go. Others might feel I say this too much, but I think I could never express it enough: I love my job, the store, and the women I work with."

Describe your personal style.
"It’s hard for me to describe, but I do know my personal style is always evolving, while staying true to my two loves: layering, and mixing prints, fabrics, and colors. I incorporate one or both [techniques] into my outfits, whether I’m in ‘90s grunge, pseudo-preppy, or post-apocalyptic grandma garb. I think the key is dressing for myself, the way I feel, and not following the rules. If I think I look awesome, maybe other people will, too."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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Who she is: Kendra McCullough, store buyer at New To You

How did you get the job?
"A friend from college worked here doing PR about a year and a half ago, and I was looking for a job at the time. She sent me a message to contact the owner, which I did; [I] came in for my interview and have been here and loving it ever since."

Describe your personal style.
"I think it’s always hard to pinpoint your own personal style, but if I had to narrow it down, it’d be somewhere along the lines of a slightly dressed-up tomboy, with armfuls of mismatched jewelry and weird shoes. My go-to essentials are leather moto jackets, denim cut-offs, clunky sky-high ankle boots, and two-sizes-too-big sweaters and blouses. I spend most of my adventurous and fashion-conscious energy on wild shoes and punk-meets-vintage jewelry. Then again, my style evolves to the slightest degree from day to day, so that’s just where I am right now. I know what I like when I see it, sometimes I have no idea why."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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Have you bought many pieces from the boutique? What are your favorites?
Gechi: "Oh man, so many! I can’t even help myself, and when I do restrain myself, I end up a little heartbroken from the item I missed out on. I see so many beautiful pieces [go] in and out every day, and even though I crush on so many of them, I know that each one of them is waiting for that perfect person to come in — and sometimes that person is me.
My closet has expanded greatly within the two years of working here, and I can’t call any specific pieces my favorites — I love them all and wear them all. However, the three most practical ones are my Alberta Ferretti boots, a vintage forest green Barbour Beaufort jacket, and a brown one-piece quilted Post Card ski suit with a fur-lined hood. All of these I wear while riding my scooter."

Kendra: "I do shop here often; it’s hard to avoid. A few of my favorite things I’ve bought from the boutique are now so glued to me, I can’t remember how I functioned before them. Last winter, I bought a black frayed-edge Louis Vuitton scarf that soon became my security blanket — I actually couldn’t walk out my front door without it. I also bought a super-soft black leather Marc Jacobs shoulder bag that is now just an extension of my right arm. I bought my first pair of J Brand jeans here, and now I always keep an eye out for more in my size to come in. I don’t mind splurging every now and then on basics that I know I’ll get miles of wear out of."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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How does working at a boutique influence your own personal style?
Gechi: "I’ve learned so much about cut, color, and fabric. I’ve developed a finer appreciation for well-tailored clothing, which I keep in mind when buying for myself. I now know which cuts I look terrible in, and which pieces work best on me. I’ve always been adventurous when it comes to fashion, but since working at the shop, I’ve really honed my style, and my look has become more cohesive."

Kendra: "Working here, especially being the buyer and being so hands-on with everything that comes in, I definitely get new ideas every day. Being a designer myself, I’ve grown to appreciate even more the look and feel of really nice things. I think everyone deserves at least a few nice things to hold onto. Since I’ve been here, I think my comfort zone has expanded a bit. My personal style hasn’t changed much, but working here has definitely helped me find new ways to communicate it."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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Who she is: Katie Lucas, style associate at Bishop Boutique (815B King Street, Alexandria; 571-312-0042)

How did you get the job?
"I’ve lived in Alexandria all my life, and [while] home from college this summer, I stumbled upon Bishop and fell in love with the fun, glam style of the shoes and accessories, and the store itself. I felt I'd walked into the closet of a Hollywood starlet, and so I eagerly left all my information at the front desk. Kelly, the owner, called me back for an interview a few weeks after that, and I have been playing dress-up with the fashionable ladies of D.C. ever since!"

Describe your personal style.
"Classic with a twist. I buy a lot of versatile, simple pieces, but pair them with real eye-catching pieces in different prints, colors, and textures. Right now, I am inspired by a recent trip to Belize, and am obsessed with bright woven patterns, turquoise and coral accents, and experimenting with color blocking."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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Have you bought many pieces from the boutique? What are your favorites?
"I just started working at Bishop, and already I am craving the stunning druzy necklaces by Alexandra Beth for layering, and a pair of turquoise stone sandals by Ivanka Trump for everyday romping."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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How does working at a boutique influence your own personal style?
"Bishop is a perfect example of D.C. style — sophisticated and fun. Versatility is key here, and a fun (yet comfortable) pair of shoes and a statement necklace can go a long way in a sea of black suits. Working in a boutique shows me how to create a style that balances the classic with the unique as I enter the professional world myself."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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Who she is: Shereen Herbert, second assistant manager at South Moon Under (2700 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington; 703-807-4083)

How did you get the job?
"I applied in person and was offered an interview on the spot. About 15 minutes later, I was hired and began training that week!"

Describe your personal style.
"Working at South Moon Under has influenced my style a lot, since we carry such a wide variety of clothing. Some days I will come to work in jean shorts, a graphic tee, and Toms, while other days, I will rock an Ella Moss maxi dress and a pair of Sam Edelman sandals. My personal style really depends on how I am feeling that day and what is going on with the weather."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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Who she is: Jessica Smith, store manager at South Moon Under

How did you get the job?
"I was super intrigued with South Moon Under after shopping with the company — I had such great experiences every time I went in that I couldn’t help but think this was a company I’d love to work for and could really get behind."

Describe your personal style.
"I don’t like to pigeonhole myself into one specific style. I really do whatever feels good to me, and how my mood is for the day determines what I’m going to wear. One day I could be super boho, the next I could be prep — it really just depends."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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Have you bought many pieces from the boutique? What are your favorites?
Jessica: "I am constantly buying product from the store! Right now, I’m obsessed with all of my colored denim and a wrap belt by ADA that I throw on with just about every dress I own."

Shereen: "I have bought a ton! It's hard not to when everything is so gosh darn awesome! The swimsuits are incredible; just last month, I bought the Ralph Lauren stars-and-stripes bikini that was featured in our mailer. The graphic tees are great, too; recently, I got the Blondie swing tank, which is purple and features the artist across the front. This list could go on for days..."


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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How does working at a boutique influence your own personal style?
Jessica: "Since working at South Moon Under, my style has evolved a ton. I feel that I have become more adventurous and am willing to take more chances with my wardrobe."

Shereen: "Working at a boutique has given me the opportunity to see fashion from many different perspectives. Everyone I work with has their own unique style and opinion on fashion. Where I might wear a maxi skirt low around my hips, someone else might wear it as a dress and belt it around the waist. Seeing people create their own individual style has influenced me to break boundaries and try new things!"


Photographed by Sebastian Marin
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