Top 10 Vintage and Second-Hand Boutiques in L.A.
Jesse Fiorino, courtesy of Buttons and Bows
Whether you're looking for 1960s Peggy Moffitt mod couture or 1980s stonewashed denim castaways from the Valley, Los Angeles has a vintage and second-hand shopping scene that's bursting at the old-school seams. In a city known for making old things look fresher than they really are, it's no surprise that L.A. yields some of the best vintage in the country. So whether you're cruising the red carpet, taking road trips to the desert or ordering your third cup of Intelligentsia, retro always rocks.
Here are our picks for the 10 best vintage and second-hand boutiques in L.A.
Yves Saint Laurent once said, "Fashions fade, style is eternal" -- but he could have been talking about Golyester, a vintage clothing and textiles mecca that has, like the goods inside, withstood the test of time. In business since 1976, and specializing in all things pre-1970s, it's the kind of place where you can imagine the ghost of Joan Crawford peering over Ginger Rogers' shoulder as she caresses the racks of pristine camisoles and pencil skirts. These kinds of finds rarely come cheap -- think $400 for a pair of museum-quality 1940s pumps -- but vintage rookies and the underemployed shouldn't despair. Window shopping will always be free. 136 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park
Stepping into Tavin is like falling into Joni Mitchell's walk-in closet circa Ladies of the Canyon. Gauzy summer dresses, lace shawls, floral headscarves, '70s Afghani tunics and faded objets d'art make this little treasure trove a must for wistful-eyed romantics and wild poets. Even the price tags are handwritten, with little thoughts penned by store owner Erin Tavin (you'll recognize her by her abundant blond curls). With some dresses above the $300 mark, this is a store for boho jetsetters rather than starving thrifters, a place to pick out looks for that next trip to Marrakech, that yoga retreat in Ibiza or that romantic weekender in Tulum. 1543 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park
8. The Way We Wore
There are a handful of vintage fashion personalities in Los Angeles, but very few are as beloved -- or as knowledgeable -- as Doris Raymond, proprietress of The Way We Wore. Raymond carries only the most exquisite pieces from the late 19th century through the late 20th century, but she curates her collection with the eye of a modern fashionista, so you never feel like you're in a museum. And not a shred of snootiness -- Raymond may dress some of the biggest A-listers in town, but she is among the most democratic fashionistas you'll ever meet, and will happily answer your dorky questions about how to get that "Edie Sedgwick vibe" or that "Breakfast at Tiffany's look". So don't be intimidated by the price tags -- just go in, soak up Doris' warm vibes and behold her dazzling selection of 1960s Pucci, 1970s Halston, 1980s Bob Mackie, 1990s Versace and millennial Lanvin. It's a vintage pilgrimage you'll never regret. 334 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park
7. Flounce Vintage
Adorably eccentric, Flounce caters to the true Echo Park indie vintage girl, housing a charming hodge-podge of wares from the 1920s to the 1980s at midrange prices that won't make your rent check bounce. Of course there are clothes, lots of them -- cloche hats, floaty chiffon dresses, sparkly costume jewelry, and 1950s Mad Men cardigans -- but you'll also find all manner of old-school radness -- turntables, books, magazines, small toys, knickknacks, baubles, tchotchkes and trinkets. 1555 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park
6. Jet Rag
We've said it once and we'll say it again -- Jet Rag's Sunday parking-lot dollar sale is like hipster church. Services begin at 9 a.m. and we recommend early arrival. Each hour, watch in amazement as more bags of bowling shoes, concert tees and psychedelic polyester shirts are unloaded, relics from the 1960s mixed in with contemporary finds. You'll update your entire closet for little more than the cost of a six-pack of PBR. Score.
825 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood
5. Hidden Treasures
As much an experience as a place to buy clothing, Hidden Treasures looks like a gingerbread house formerly inhabited by unicorns, Parisian hookers and gay pirates on acid -- but then, this is Topanga. Neon tutus in every color of the rainbow sit alongside vintage trunks, Victorian linens, fez hats, velvets, piano shawls and kimonos in a reputedly haunted house that feels less like a boutique and more like a fairground attraction. Quality is hit-or-miss, so get ready for some "whoa" moments (some good, some bad) while you rummage through the store's myriad bins and trunks. But the prices are rock-bottom and the vibe pure Middle Earth, making this an obligatory pit stop as you wind your way through the magical canyon toward the Pacific. 154 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga
Treading the fine line between trashy vintage and awesome thrift, Squaresville is a popular spot for neo-hippies, mod girls and groupies who are sexy and confident enough to pair teal Spandex with tangerine nylon and not give a fuck. The recycled looks date largely from the 1970s on, inhabiting that gray area between "retarded Halloween outfit" and "daring party threads." Take your time sifting through the racks, and pop an antihistamine if you get wheezy -- looks this groovy are worth the dust allergies. 1800 Vermont Ave., Los Feliz
Jesse Fiorino, courtesy of Buttons and Bows
3. Buttons & Bows
Fresh on the L.A. vintage scene, Buttons & Bows in downtown is the brainchild of stylish BFFs Monique Aquino and Karen Marley, daughter of Bob Marley. Their contemporary take on vintage, for some reason, really compels me to get up, stand up. And their store's recycled high fashion (Chanel, Margiela, Chloe, YSL, even some TOPSHOP) truly satisfies my soul. Not to mention the honestly priced wares (usually marked down at least 50% from original prices), which left me wondering, "Is this love?" So lively up yourself, quit waiting in vain, and join the punky reggae vintage party downtown. Jah. 548 S. Spring St., #112, downtown
2. Shareen Vintage
No boys are allowed at Shareen Mitchell's behemoth vintage treasure chest downtown, as popular with Vogue editors as it is with slender young Silver Lake dwellers looking for that pretty Catherine Deneuve-ish date dress. At its cavernous warehouse, there are no changing rooms, so you should know your exact measurements or at least remember to wear underwear. There are no prices on the garments, either, and Shareen or one of her assistants will pluck a number out of thin air when you go to pay -- so leave your 'tude at the gate and increase your chances of a good deal. Expect to pay no less than $30 per item. 1721 N. Spring St. (enter on Baker St.), Chinatown
1. Decades Inc.
No top-10 L.A. vintage list would be complete without mention of Cameron Silver's Decades, an Elysium of glamorous vintage couture from the 1960s and '70s so iconic that Silver (a former cabaret singer) was profiled in the New Yorker. Think Chanel motorcycle chokers, André Courrèges '60s space age dresses, Azzaro samples from the '70s ... items so rare and fabulous that unless Daddy's exceedingly generous, or you're on the cover of Us Weekly on a regular basis, you'll probably only be able to afford a button, or half a sleeve at best. A girl can dream... 8214 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood
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