Kiskadee in Alexandria

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Stepping into Kiskadee, a cheery, color-splashed boutique on Del Ray's main shopping strip, is a bit like bumping into a group of gal pals somewhere in the Deep South. The owners, Darby Rush, 42, and Neil Hall, 52, know many of their customers by name. They can point out favorite items made by their artsy friends, such as an intricate shell-and-bead necklace from Meg Carter or handpainted tiles by Soraya Jones. And before you splurge on that punchy printed Hal¿ Bob dress, they'll let you know who else in town bought it.

"We felt there was a niche missing here," Rush says. "Maybe you didn't need a dress, but you did need a hostess gift. . . . We like to call it our 'store for everyday living.' "

Named after a bird found in the Tidewater region of Virginia, the four-month-old Alexandria boutique houses a medley of women's accessories, jewelry and clothing, highlighted by vintage-inspired offerings from Tribute by Heni Neman and Yoana Baraschi. Men's ties, baby clothes, custom stationery, furniture and beachy knickknacks round out the mix.

Shoppers craving a minimalist aesthetic might blanch at Kiskadee's eclectic patterns and homey offerings; if it's an anonymous afternoon of browsing you're after, you'd be better off at a department store. But if you're in the mood to buy a dress for your next beach weekend or enjoy some girly gossip with the owners, you'll feel right at home.

-- Holly E. Thomas

The items at right are available at Kiskadee (2205 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, 703-549-0813,

Skirtin Around Linen Coat

The juicy hue of this lightweight bell-sleeve topper ($304) is right in step with spring's wave of colorful wares.

Interlud Embellished Silk Tank

The ornate, shell-covered neckline plays off the airy silk on this hip-skimming top ($174). Pair it with slim white pants for a chic seaside look -- no flip-flops necessary.

Lulu & Merie's cheery greeting cards come in a box of 32 ($25) -- just the thing to adorn a present for a new bride or baby.

Bamboo Bangles

Go for an earthy look with a couple of these natural-wood-finish bracelets ($5 each), or aim for something a bit more glamorous with a stack of their gold and silver counterparts ($18 each).

MacBeth Collection Clipboards

Snap up a couple of these painted clipboards ($26.95-$40) and use the accompanying notepads, which are trimmed in contrasting patterns, to get everything from grocery lists to household to-dos in perfect order.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company