My DC // Alina of The Hyperbalist

On a warm Saturday I spent practically the entire day with Alina of The Hyperbalist. Alina cracks me up, and her blog is an extension of her. She's an open book. A writer. A free spirit. A girl who is herself. So refreshing don't you think? Alina took me around her neighborhood: the Adams Morgan/U Street area in DC.

See where the free-spirited Alina took me after the break.

Our first stop of the day was at an adorable local eatery, Tryst, where Alina is a regular. It was quite busy, so we nabbed a little table in the back, and apparently the most forgetful waitress ever. I don't think it was common for this to happen there, but they completely forgot to put our order in or make it or something. So we waited an hour for our food. Don't worry Tryst, I won't hold it against you because Alina loves you. And my sandwich was delish.

Alina had waffles and an iced coffee that she nearly dumped an entire bottle of creamer into. The would you like creamer with your coffee saying applies here. Too funny.

After brunch we walked down the street to a boutique called Violet where Alina is a frequent customer. The owner just happened to be there, and knows Alina's style, so she was bringing new items out from the back that she thought Alina would like. It worked, as we both left with multiple additions to our wardrobes.

Luckily the Violet experience was not to the detriment to our bank accounts because this shop is super affordable. The perfect place to get trendy items that you will only wear for a season.

We spent at least an hour in there combing every rack, testing out jewelry, etc. I know you are dying to know here are Alina's outfit details: My chambray tie-knot top was from Old Navy, the shorts were "Kenny" brand from Blue Planet in Venice California, and the netural+studded gladiator shoes were Zara. My black-and-gold cross body zippered bag was Marc by Marc Jacobs from South Moon Under.

After our little shopping spree, Alina took me to Meridian Hill Park. A serious gem in the DC area. People were playing frisbee, laying out on blankets, reading, having a picnic, and just enjoying the day.

I mean, look at this place!

Unfortunately, a giant condo building is blocking what would be a sick view of DC. Who's the dumbass that let that happen?!?

After the park, we headed to some of her favorite home shops on U Street. First up was Foundry. You have to walk through it several times to make sure you didn't miss anything!

Foundry carries a mix of furniture and accessories, vintage, mid-century modern, and new. It's a great little shop where I'm sure to drop some dough one of these days.

Next up is a DC favorite, GoodWood. A well-curated shop full of furniture and accessories. It's mostly vintage with a few new items, and lots of inspiration. Please tell me you see the lamp?!? Alina knew the owner, and they discussed the purchases she had recently made from there and how amazing they look in her apartment.

On the left is a little side table with gold bamboo-style legs that I was having a hard time leaving at Foundry. On the right is a cool industrial/rustic console table at GoodWood (that is now marked down) that I was considering for a TV stand.

After all the shopping (and looking, and drooling) we rounded out the afternoon on the patio at Napoleon Bistro

We sipped on bellini's and chatted. It was lovely end to afternoon. Alina headed out to meet her boyfriend and best friend at a pool, and I hopped back on my bike and rode the three miles home. I wasn't planning on riding the entire way home because it the second half is uphill, and I had my heavy purse with me. I stopped and waited 18 minutes for the dang bus, and when it came, the bike rack was full. So I took it as a sign I was just supposed to bike up that dang hill with my heavy purse. When I got back to my place I was a hot mess, but it always feels good after the workout is over, right? Totally worth the sweaty mess.

Let's hear what Alina has to say (did I mention Alina is a writer?):

Why did you take me to Tryst, Violet, GoodWood, Meridian Hill Park, and Napoleon?
I took you to those spots because they are where I go l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y every weekend. Tryst has fantastic food for really cheap, and it's communal and big with open windows and an upbeat vibe — it's not a cramped small coffee shop where everyone vies for the same outlet which I would go crazy in. I always dreamed of having 'that neighborhood spot' that's around the corner from where you live, where you know the menu by heart and the waiters legit ask how your parents are, and if I'd designed it in my head I couldn't have executed anything more perfect than Tryst. The music they play and thus the ambiance it sets is unreal.
Violet just has really cute, unique shit for really low prices. And I'm honestly scared to get started on GoodWood and how genius I think the owners are (an adorable husband-and-wife team!) I think they are the two coolest living people in the entire District of Columbia. Every item they cull for their store blows my mind and visual senses. I've spent 4 hours in there just wishing it was my home. Probably the coolest thing I could ever imagine doing is going on a buying trip with the two of them. Meridian Hill Park is just gorge and so cool, and Napoleon has the best outdoor patio for STRAIGHT chilling. I also love the staff there. 

What are some of your other favorite places to eat and visit in DC and why or what do you HAVE to get when you go to them?  
I love Peregrine for iced coffee and a chocolate chip cookie (the CCC there is BOMBBBB). I like the pesto-potato pizza at Pizza Paradiso. I love going to The Hamilton just because it's such an impressive space (I say that if DC were to have one place that remotely came close to Bottega Louis in LA, this would have to be it...just in terms of size and visual impact). I love the mussels from Et Voila in Palisades (an awesome not-known-by-many Belgium close-sized restaurant); and also from Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda. I love going to the Arboretum, and renting bikes from Fletcher's Boat House. I love the tomato-basil-mozzarella sandwich (a.k.a The Capri) from Sundevich in Mount Vernon Square — if you don't know of this hole-in-the-wall sandwich joint tucked away in Blagden Alley, get to it. I've seriously never had a fresher TBM sandwich. I love Beach Bar, and The Passenger around the corner. I'm newly obsessed with Estadio, and the quality of the meats/cheeses and sangria and atmosphere. I am also obsessed with Graffiato, and believe it or not, the old-fashioned soft-serve ice cream at HERSHEY'S ice cream on the Georgetown Waterfront is my favorite ice cream in the city. Someone recommended it to me and I was kind of embarrassed for them in my head like (I'm cringing for you that with all the places in the city you recommended this lame low-quality brand of chocolate that's sold at CVS, yeah that's where I'll want to have an ice cream cone), and it was the best fucking ice cream I've ever had.

What are your favorite items in your home? 
Honestly, other than my clothes and shoes, I have no favorite items in my home. I have no inherited family heirlooms or sentimental objects — like a chair from my grandmother or painting from my boyfriend. I don't care about our Ikea dining table & chairs, or our $35 Ikea coffee table, or our TJ Maxx lighting (WHY WOULD I). And I don't care about our Pier 1 side table or Ikea throw pillows or Overstock rug. Our bed is ghetto too. I'm not emotionally attached to the things in my house because everything is something I had to buy because I couldn't afford what I REALLY loved/wanted. Legitimately, no hyperbole here, if our entire apartment burned down I would not give a shit (closet aside). That might surprise some people because I just wrote a giant blogpost about how happy I am that we found this amazing sofa and our living room has finally come together; and I AM happy that we have the sofa, and have other items that serve their purpose and were inexpensive and look perfectly fine, but what that really means is: I am pleased with them for what they cost, not inherently for what they are. In other words, I'm happy we got a cheap sectional that is large, comfortable, attractive, and ideal for movie-watching but there is always a second half to that sentence, and it's — for the price we got it for. I could truly throw away every single item in my house right now and not care at all. Like none of it matters to me.

What items in your wardrobe do you constantly wear? 
I CONSTANTLY wear a super-soft, oversized, chambray-and-jersey cotton button-down oxford shirt by Alexander Wang that I scored for $61 at a Scoop sale in NYC. It's so soft, sexy, and chill but very visually interesting. Every time I wear it people fawn over it. (That's not bragging because I didn't make the shirt, and they're fawning over the shirt). I honestly think it's the one piece in my closet — the ONE piece — that if I lost it or it died in a fire, I would never recover. Like never return to a normal life because of missing it so much. I get very attached to pieces and the memories we create in them and this pieces is irreplaceable. Other things I wear constantly are: high-waisted vintage Levi's shorts that are majorly distressed, ballet flats, and this pair of badass ankle boots (they actually may tie with the oxford in terms of emotional attachment). Oh and hoop earrings. But overall: what I wear most is jeans, shorts, and tees/tanks. I only care about comfort and would wear jean shorts and simple tanks every day forever.

What's your fashion philosophy
In one sentence it's: unstyled comfort with some visual interest.
As a human being, every single thing in my soul is constantly screaming — be chill. That's why I belong in LA, personality wise. I'm consistently drawn to an ensemble of jeans + tee shirt + chucks. That's it. That's my outfit. The chucks can have studs — that's the visual interest. Or the shorts can be loud — (like my neon striped Mexican pair you photographed me in on), but I HATE looking or feeling styled. Put in other words, my fashion philosophy is: the LEAST number of items on my body at all times, but the number of items that
are on my body are comfortable and cool. I'm equally minimalist when it comes to accessories. I've never met a person who cared less about belts than I do. I have one belt and I like it because it's loud and has giant gold block-letters spelling MOSCHINO out, aka it's super badass, but it's the only belt you'd ever see me in and I only wear it to special occasions where I want to stand out, like a blogger meet-up. My brain works like this: why would I belt my dress when I could just....wear the dress and be free. The belt is an unnecessary step that leads to fuss and discomfort.

Overall, I feel like I'm French in my back-to-basics minimalism and obsession with simple lines, shapes and comfy fabrics (think of Jane Birkin with her simple, easy uniform of striped tees + wide leg jeans + white sneakers); except with Miami loudness and LA chillness. So where the French girl's tee-shirt is monochrome grey, mine is the same shape and fabric but has a weird cartoon graphic on it (Miami boldness coming through); and her pants are black and mine are hot pink with zippers. And I'm carefree and unfussy with accessories, and I'm in LA in my mind. In a mathematical equation, freedom (LA) + comfort/simplicity (French) + at least one aspect of visual interest/high-impact (Miami) = me and fashion. That is an
analysis of how I naturally dress though, it's not like guideline. Meaning, I don't get dressed in the morning and pause and go "wait alina, have you met your daily outfit ratio of comfort to simplicity to loudness?" It's just that over the years, you recognize what you are always drawn to and how you always dress, and my outfits mostly always have the common thread of being simple and comfortable with something that catches the eye.

What have you learned from blogging? 
Literally every single thing I know about interior design. I learned what mid-century modern is; what a credenza is; what suzani and ikat are, what an 'overdyed kilim rug' is, what 'jute; and 'sissal' rugs are, what a 'drum table' is, who Eames is, what a 'garden stool' is; what an 'étagère' is, what a triptych is, etc. I mean I'd SEEN credenzas and garden stools and étagères before, but I didn't know the TERMS before. I never studied interior design, so I could spot items or elements that belonged to the same era or style category; like for instance I could spot a mid-century modern dresser and recognize that it had the same look as a mid-century modern stool, bar cart, or lounge chair,  but I did so without using the WORDS mid-century modern. I wasn't equipped to classify anything before blogging. All I had was an inherent love for and appreciation of the visual world — how things look, how a living room looks, how furniture looks, how clothing looks, etc. So I unintentionally absorbed the common language from constantly trolling the 'net. Like I would just constantly see images, blogs, Pinterest, etc. and learned what everything was called without trying to, so now, I can actually communicate and speak the language. It's fun. OBVIOUSLY I KNOW NOTHING compared to interior designers, but I'm just saying that I know that a single light fixture that hangs from your cieling is called a pendant lamp and that ones that are mounted onto your walls are called sconces.

That probably sounds LAUGHABLY and embarrassingly rudimentary to any interior designers, but I'm telling you that prior to blogging I would have said "those little lights that are stuck on your wall that look like porch lights." Now I would say "I am in the market for a sconce". And before learning that photos/paintings that are split into 3 pieces and framed as such are called "triptychs," I called them "split-series photos." Now I'd tell someone, "I'd like to turn this photo into a triptych." See ya. Also I learned some fashion stuff too, like peplum, pussybow blouses, d'orsay heels, stacked heels. Before blogging, I would have described the peplum style as "that thing where it flounces out at your hips and makes you look like a flower/
Dilophosaurus." (Dilophosarus are those little dinosaur-lizzard looking things whose necks splay out to look like peplum, like that little one that killed Newman from Seinfeld in Jurassic Park). That's how my brain works. I would have been in Bloomingdales shopping, looking for something peplum style, and described it that way to the salesperson — before blogging.

What are your goals for the next year? 
Save money and move to LA. 

She also had no lack of interesting responses for my Quick Questions (I wasn't surprised), so I had to include almost all of them!


Tobe | Because It's Awesome said...

good one. i've been missing out by not visiting her!

Sam [The Peak of Tres Chic] said...

I completely adore her outfit. I need to check out her blog, she sounds like a very interesting girl. I love these city features, Meg!

simplyepalf said...

Great pics of the Adams Morgan and U street area!! I really want to visit Meridian Hill Park one day. I LOVE Alina's shorts!

Becky said...

love love love your blog! but the fact that every photo is half-blurry gives me a headache and/or makes me want to schedule an appointment with my optometrist.

casiemace said...

OMG first of all, I LOVE Blue Planet and its totally where I used to always go when I would visit L.A. and Im SOOOOO glad I just learned they have an online shop now!. Two--I didn't know about so many interiors terms either before blogging!!! So funny--glad Im not alone. Awesome My City! :)

casiemace said...

OMG first of all, I LOVE Blue Planet and its totally where I used to always go when I would visit L.A. and Im SOOOOO glad I just learned they have an online shop now!. Two--I didn't know about so many interiors terms either before blogging!!! So funny--glad Im not alone. Awesome My City! :)

Kaitlyn (blue rooms-white houses) said...

This is a great My City, especially because Alina brought you to some DC gems! Good Wood is one of my all time favorite resources.
-Kaitlyn, Blue Rooms-White Houses

Jaclyn said...

Looks like such a fun trip, I love all of the places you visited. Those shorts are adorable and I always like learning about another blogger as well.

Stay in the Lines

Nancy said...

Such a fantastic post and Love this girl!!! Thanks for all the great tips in DC.. I love the U Street Corridor shops.
Have you been to Rejuvinations and Miss Pinky, too? fun times. So great that you ride your bike everywhere Michelle. You're the bomb.

Donna in Potomac said...

Wow, I need to get out more! I haven't heard of most of these places...so Thank You Two for taking the time to enlighten us. Meridian Hill and Good Wood are on the top of my list.

p.s. Something tells me this girl has a Screenplay in her head. Good Luck with your future Alina!

Eternity Modern said...

Great post

Hope to see more posting related to Artichoke lamps


Eternity Modern said...

Great collections

I will definitely visit your site

I would love to see more posts related to Artichoke lamps.


Grateful from the Gr8 Plains said...

I'm related to Alina and I can tell you that as a little girl she had style. Although I must admit I was not the first to notice it. It was the parents of her friends.

Mothers in Middle School would say to me, "I love how Alina dresses" and I'd say, "Isn't it just like everyone else?" And they'd say, "Hello. No. Look at her." Then, I started noticing that yes, she might put a piece or two that the other girls were wearing but she'd definitely do something different or clever that would spice things up.

And to the Commenter who mentioned that Alina sounds like someone with a screenplay in her head, she wrote one in high school that was a serious hoot, as we Baby Boomers say. It all about the nuns who taught her so well.

Love your blog & glad Alina's introduced her relatives and friends to another awesome writer.

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