Off the Beaten Path: Downtown D.C.

When most people think of downtown Washington, office buildings, sandwich shops and florists usually come to mind. Downtown even houses some of the best happy hour spots in the city. But one usually doesn't think of downtown for shopping. You'd head to Georgetown or Adams Morgan maybe.

But on a few blocks along Connecticut Avenue, just a stone's throw from Dupont Circle, lies a set of businesses that offer a shopping experience off the beaten path.

You could start your journey at Betsy Fisher, a women's boutique filled with well-known and not-so-known designer clothing and shoes from names like Diane Von Furstenberg, Trina Turk, Donna Degnan, Vivienne Tam and Claudia Ciutti. The shop opened 20 years ago and helps women put together outfits for work, weddings or casual events. The store is staffed with a handful of fashion experts, many of whom have had their own fashion consulting businesses. And if you're intimidated by the idea of having someone dress you, check out the store's Web site, which offers dozens of ideas for putting outfits together.

Then swing next door for your kid fix. Kid's Closet is a sweet little shop with toys, books and baby and kid clothes that's been around for 23 years. The toys range from arts and crafts kits to princess dress-up clothes. Even infants can get a teething ring or two. And the clothes, which happen to be 20-40 percent off this week, ranged from Carter's to Absorba.

Head down Connecticut Avenue toward Dupont Circle and you stumble upon Green and Blue, a clothing and jewelry store opened by two friends in 2007. Like Betsy Fisher, the store offers a plethora of designers, including Yoanna Baraschi, Eva Franco and 7 for All Man Kind. The selection even includes Ela Ela Couture, a clothing line designed by one of the store's owners, Daniela Cermanova. Above the shop, she will custom design evening gowns, suits, dresses, coats, pants and skirts based on your needs. Cermanova will even design wedding gowns. Her design fees, which don't include fabric, range from $150 for a skirt to $900 for an evening gown.

And then pop in next door to Proper Topper for unique gifts or a chic hat. The shop, which was opened in 1990 by Anna Fuhrman, has a wide range of items from women's clothing to men's and women's hats to children's clothing, jewelry, small gifts and books. You can pick up everything from a mother of pearl caviar dish for $25 to a baby onesie with a funky little design on the front for $30.

Have you been to any of these stores? What other shops have you discovered off the beaten path? Any other interesting finds along Connecticut Avenue? Post a comment below.

Speaking of shopping... Father's Day is around the corner. How do you plan to gift the father in your life? Please send me your ideas at shoptoit@washingtonpost.com.

By Tania Anderson |  June 5, 2008; 3:00 AM ET Off the Beaten Path
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Comments

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How can you mention that stretch of Connecticut and leave off Secondi, the wonderful consignment shop adjacent to Teaism? I think the shopkeepers at this second-floor boutique do an excellent job of only accepting gently worn merchandise that will appeal to their local audience and sell through quickly, so the selection is always fresh. I'm happy to be both a consigner and a shopper at Secondi.

Posted by: JZ | June 6, 2008 12:42 AM

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