My POTOMAC // Ali McLaughlin

I met with Ali, the managing editor at Washington Life, on an extremely hot day in July. Ali is a true local. She grew up in Potomac, Md., (which is basically connected to DC), attended college at George Washington University, and now works in the Kalorama area of DC. See where Ali took me in Kalorama and Potomac, Md., after the jump!

On my walk to meet up with Ali, I stopped in my tracks. I hadn’t been to this area of DC before. I love the architecture and history in DC and am always surprised in every new neighborhood I visit.

Ali’s office is in Kalorama, so we went on a little walk to see some of the beautiful homes in the neighborhood.

Both starving, we bee-lined it up to Potomac to grab lunch at Founding Farmers. This is where we realized that our eating habits are similar. We both love mac-n-cheese — which is what we each ordered for lunch and I promptly inhaled. I consider myself somewhat of a mac-n-cheese connoisseur, and the version they have at Founding Farmers is delicious! We also both hate cilantro with a passion, and we are both picky and eat little meals all day long.

The bill came in this little mailbox, and when you are ready for them to take it, you put the flag up — so cute!

Ali is definitely known for her love of fashion, so I’ll get right to the elements of her outfit — which I kid you not, she sent me the details to in an Excel doc. She’s not kidding when she says OCD, but mostly in an organizational way.

Bracelets & Watch
Frieda and Nellie / Michael Kors / Ralph Lauren / Barney’s / Hermes / Blu Bijoux
David Yurman / Crislu “Forever Knots” pave diamond ring. 
iPhone case 
Gorjana “Aquarius” (similar)
Celine mini luggage
Calisto of California
Hugo Boss (they used to be her dads)

After lunch we headed over to Emily Grace, a boutique where Ali is a frequent shopper. So much so that she is friends with Morgan the buyer, who just happened to be there and basically pulled everything she knew Ali would like.

Ali perused, and couldn’t leave with picking up a few things.
Like this bright printed dress.

And this leopard top. Morgan, also brought out some new jewelry they had just received that wasn’t even priced yet, but she knew Ali would love. She was right.

Let’s hear from Ali:

Why did you take me to Kalorama, Founding Farmers, and Emily Grace? 
We skipped around a bit, but I don’t have a neighborhood right now that’s really “mine” so it was pretty reflective of my life at this point.  First we walked around Kalorama, where my office is located and is home to some of the most beautiful properties in all of Washington.  I spend a significant amount of my time at the office (esp when we are on deadline!) so this neighborhood is basically a second home to me.  Then we went to my first/real home: Potomac, Md.  I am a hard-core Marylander (there is a bitter feud between Md and Va … Md always wins) and I love where I grew up. I took you to Founding Farmers, which is the second location of the restaurant that opened in Foggy Bottom (where I went to college). I actually hadn’t yet been to the one in Potomac yet so it was nice to get to see what it was like, very similar to the DC location, which is a good thing in my opinion. We totally jinx-ed on our orders and that mac ‘n’ cheese was delish. The little mailbox for the check was a cute touch that I think is unique to the Md. location. Then we finished the day at Emily Grace, my favorite clothing boutique in Potomac. They have such a well-curated selection, and the main buyer, Morgan, and I have become pretty friendly and she always gives me the best fashion tips and advice. She even opened the store on a Sunday when they were closed because I just HAD to have the dress in the window — she’s the best. They always have some Rebecca Taylor, my all-time favorite designer (that I actually wear/can afford) and tend to have unique pieces from familiar brands, stuff you won’t see in the local Bloomingdale’s or Nordstrom. The fact that I didn’t leave the store empty-handed pretty much says it all.

How did you become the managing editor at Washington Life
It was really a right-place, right-time situation. I interned for the editorial department the summer before my senior year of college at GWU, and became really close with the managing & associate editors who were there at that time and ended up continuing my internship throughout the rest of my senior year. As graduation was approaching, I mentioned that I’d love to work there if they were hiring, and they set up a meeting for me with the CEO. He hired me right then and there and I started as an official WL employee (my title was editorial assistant) in May 2010. In the two years since then, people have come and gone while I stayed, which definitely helped me rise in the ranks a bit faster. I was promoted to my current title in April which was very exciting and flattering. I’ll forever be indebted to WL’s owners and the editors for whom I interned for having such faith in me!

When did you start to love fashion and what is your current fashion philosophy? 
I really started to get into fashion in high school. The Bloomingdale’s at White Flint Mall (RIP) was my JAM. I can’t remember exactly what sparked my interest, but I’ve LOVED shopping for clothes ever since I can remember, and I think the time I started high school (2003-2004ish) I remember celebrity fashion becoming a lot more accessible. Slightly embarrassing to admit now but I remember looking at what celebrities like Paris & Nicky Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, the cast of The OC, etc were wearing and trying to recreate it — I loved the trends of that time (to a degree) with the pleated, school-girl skirts, pastel bags & trendy loungewear (anyone remember Primp?) … not that I’d necessarily wear those things now but that’s really when I got into reading magazines to see where different pieces were available and learning who the designers were and understanding their differing aesthetics. I’d say my current fashion philosophy is trying out trends I see on blogs and in the pages of magazines with my own style injected into the looks. I’m also a firm believer in only spending serious money on things that will never go out of style: a black quilted Chanel bag, classic nude Louboutins, etc.

What are your favorite items in your wardrobe? 
This is a hard one, I always have way too many clothes but at the same time my OCD causes me to go through and clean out stuff pretty regularly — yet I still seem to have a bit more than I need and never turn down a shopping trip. My favorite items pretty much depend on which day you ask me: what’s new, what I have that is similar to what I saw someone wearing on a blog or in a magazine, what accessories I am currently obsessed with, etc. Some pieces I always gravitate towards are floral sundresses, blazers, and anything with nautical stripes.