Real Style With Refine Boutique’s Tanya Semsar

The thing I love most about shopping at boutiques versus mass retailers is feeling like I’m getting something exclusive that 50 other women won’t also be able to buy. So I was super excited to check out Refine boutique in Washington, D.C. It’s an appointment-based boutique that offers shoppers a one-on-one personalized shopping experience. The boutique is literally like walking into a fabulous closet complete with a sitting area, dressing room and refreshments (your choice of wine or water).

Tanya Semsar, owner, Refine  (Photo:
Tanya Semsar, owner, Refine boutique (Photo:

The boutique’s owner Tanya Semsar is a one-woman show and says that she wants her clients to walk away feeling as if they’ve purchased something special, so she limits the amount of inventory she keeps in stock. Clothing and accessories are available at Refine ranging in price from $20 to $300 and clothing sizes that range from extra small to large.

I sat down with Tanya to pick her brain about why she decided to open her own clothing store, which spring fashion trends she’s loving most, which fashion trend she wishes would go away and so much more. Check out the Q&A below:

What inspired you to open your own clothing boutique?

Growing up, I always had a love of fashion and just clothing, in general. Prior to opening Refine, I worked in retail for seven-plus years at places such as CUSP, Urban Chic, Hu’s Wear and Emily Grace. With that experience, I grew to understand the smaller end of the business. When the opportunity came to open my own place, I jumped at it.

I tossed around the idea of doing a boutique-style brick and mortar, but it finally came down to what would help us stand out better. There have been a lot of boutiques to open [in the D.C.-area] and not many are left standing. So we decided to go the appointment-based route and have found that it got people more excited. There’s no one else to worry about when you’re here and we’re kind of on-call for our clients like a concierge service.

Who’s the ideal Refine shopper?

It’s someone who really loves fashion and is into trends. It’s someone who loves to play with color, different styles, fabrics and looks that aren’t necessarily seen everywhere else. We don’t really have an age demographic that we cater to — we’ve had everyone from college students to moms shop here.

What’s your process for selecting the clothing and accessories found at Refine?

I try to keep up with what’s new and current. I definitely take advice from vendors about what’s happening right now. When selecting new brands, I’m looking at where and how an item is made. The fabrics are super important when it comes to choosing new items. You don’t want to be wearing something that’s itchy or ill-fitting. From there I consider cut and what will work well for most women. It has to be something that’s easy to wear.

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Who are your favorite fashion designers?

I love Isabel Marant. Everything she does is fun, flirty and I can’t get enough of it.

What are some of the biggest fashion and accessory trends you see happening for spring/summer 2016?

Off-the-shoulder is huge for spring. And I’m talking about simple off-the-shoulder tops to blouses with a ruffle hem. Lace-up tops are another big trend. You’ll see lace-up details on everything from sweaters to dresses. Also, stripes will be back in a big way.

Which fashion trend do you wish would go away (and never come back)?

The drop crouch on pants — I really don’t like it. It doesn’t look pretty and it doesn’t work for a lot of people. It’s just excess fabric for no reason. I can’t stand it.

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What’s one fashion item you can’t live without?

A good white tee — it’s so versatile. You can dress it up or down and it goes with everything.

Where do you see the boutique five years from now?

I would love to see Refine in a larger space with a section for appointments, as well as walk-ins. A location in Virginia or Maryland would be great.

To learn more about Refine go to Read more “Real Style” posts here.

Keep it stylish,

Andrea, S&P Founder and Editor

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