The nation's capital isn't just buzzing with politics. In the last few years, an exciting dining and nightlife scene has sprung up in several corridors including the hip-and-happening U Street and the Northeast and Southeast districts. And come fall, the weather cools and the changing leaves make the city especially ripe for a getaway. Now, what to pack?
Georgetown by Day
Though the usual dress code has loosened up in the last years (it's not all pantsuits anymore), there's still a buttoned-up feel inside the beltway. Stick with traditional patterns like this red and white stripe tee with a hint of detail in the shoulder zips ($24.95). Pair the top with stretchy denim ($79), low block heels in patent navy ($178), and a classic trench coat if temperatures cool ($34.98). Pack a tried-and-true shift dress, here in a patriotic red, white, and blue print ($170), to pair with a brown leather satchel ($298). And add a touch of romance—DC is a wonderful walking town with plenty of scenic routes along the Potomac—like this burnished brass love knot ring ($79).
District Dining by Night
If good food is high on the priority list, be sure to reserve a spot at a joint helmed by locally loved chef Jose Andres, Minibar. Sport a sleeveless polo top with feminine ruffle ($85), black flounce skirt ($165), and two-tone camel and black pumps ($275). A high-low hem shirt dress ($138) should definitely find its way into your bag, especially when paired with a silver locket necklace ($38) and a slick power clutch that can double during travel as an iPad sleeve ($90). Stop into DC-based beauty emporium Blue Mercury beforehand, to pick up these matching metallic eye shadow colors ($25 by Laura Mercier). Lastly, slip on this gold and silver watch so you make your reservation in time ($225).
For the politically inclined, the Hill (aka, ground zero for Congress) makes for great people watching and museum browsing (the Smithsonian is nearby). Stroll the famous Mall in these star print shorts ($158) and simple tee on top. If you feel like driving the theme home, pack this "Liberty For All" print tee ($69) in your chambray travel bag ($132). If you're there during brisker months, go for this blue and green large check button down instead ($78), worn with classic fit chinos ($69.50). For accessories, this leather belt with tonal stitching works well ($98), as do these burlap brogues by Tom's ($98).
It used to be that the Southeast district was the area less traveled, at least compared with the usual Northwest haunts like Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan. But of late, the area has spawned some of the more inventive eateries around town. For a casual after work vibe, head to Bluejacket for a pint in these cords, perfect for fall in a rich red ($225), gray henley ($39.50), and gray "officer" jacket ($299). Try to snag a reservation in advance at the tiny but memorable Beuchert's Saloon. And pack easy-to-pair shapes like varsity cardigans ($269) or stripe polos ($125) are also good luggage additions. Upgrade the preppy look to something a little more soigné with a pair of rakish handsewn boat shoes ($99.99) or a handsome credit card holder in cognac ($50).
Photo Credits: Women Day: Courtesy of J.CREW; www.target.com; 2013 Kate Spade Saturday; 2013 Peruvian Connection; 013 AEO Management Co.; 2012 Lord & Taylor. Women Night: Courtesy of 2013 Nordstrom, Inc.; 2013 - Barneys New York; www.intermixonline.com; 2013 kate spade; www.anntaylor.com; www.bluemercury.com; 2013 Tory Burch LLC.Men Day: Courtesy of J.CREW; 2009 ROGAN LLC.; www.marcjacobs.com; 2006 - 2013 TOMS Shoes; Gilded Age Inc; BROOKS BROTHERS GROUP, INC. BROOKS BROTHERS GROUP, INC.; www.bonobos.com. Men Night: 2013 Nordstrom, Inc.; 2013 J.CREW; us.longchamp.com; 2013 Shipley & Halmos, LLC; www.johnvarvatos.com; Gilded Age Inc; 2010 Thom Brown of Boston, Inc.