BEST LAWN-MOWING UNIFORMSGoodwill on Glenoaks.
This section of Glenoaks Boulevard is your prototypical old white suburban neighborhood. This means the local thrift stores usually stock lots of neatly pressed 60s and late-50s mens sportswear in good condition and this is the case at the Glenoaks Goodwill. Youll find a number of J.C. Penney, Pendleton and other classic shirts and sweaters for $2 to $4. All the Goodwill stores, it seems, have adopted a universal pricing structure plain T-shirts $1, printed tees $1.98, jackets $5.95, etc. so at least the prices are more or less fair (though you may run across the odd heavy shirt they mark as a jacket). The Kids Today have already discovered this place, but on any given day, you will find several gems you too will be happy to take home.1622 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank; (818) 242-9399.
BEST PAINT STORELarchmont Beauty Center.
This light and airy beauty-supply store is cluttered with exotic oils, aromatherapy products, all-natural hand-milled soaps, full lines of hair-care products (everything from Paul Mitchell to Oribe and lesser-known brands), formaldehyde-free nail polishes, even many hygiene items for tony toddlers. They have hair accessories ranging from utilitarian Goody ponytail elastics, to elborate hand-made ornaments, glittery skin gels and chic cosmetic bags, to pro makeup caddies. As if that wasnt enough, theres a full-service salon on the premises that does everything from manicures (Julliet, fiberglass, nail repairs) to mens skin-fitness treatments, solar bronzing and exfoliation, reflexology massages, cellulite control the works! They do facials with makeup applications, eyebrow shaping, Swedish massages, beauty-treatment packages and bridal packages. Gift certificates are available, and they do lovely free gift wrapping. A great place to browse or be pampered spa-style without leaving the city!208 N. Larchmont Blvd.; (213) 461-0162
. (Pleasant Gehman)
BEST DIGITAL PAINT STOREJessica Nail Clinic.
In tranquil, genteel surroundings gigantic bouquets of fresh flowers, a waiting and nail-drying room with overstuffed couches and every current fashion and decorating magazine you can be pampered by nail technicians who regularly work on the claws of Jodie Foster, Julia Roberts, Nancy Reagan, Betsy Bloomingdale, Tyra Banks and Dyan Cannon. Here, a manicure or pedicure (they call it "nail-cultivation treatment") costs $25, but for that you get more than an hour of sheer heaven. Jessicas does not believe in anything artificial, so dont expect acrylics but if you come here on a regular basis, you wont need them anyway! They have their own special line of polishes (available for $6 a bottle), as well as their own treatment-product line ($6 to $14). From supermodels to housewifemodels, everyone is treated like a queen, and youll emerge from Jessicas looking like one.8627 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood; (310) 659-9292
. (Pleasant Gehman)
SLIP INTO THE PASTGolyester.
Some 20 years ago, Harry Eden said to his future bride, conceptual artist Esther Ginsberg, "Golly, Esther, what are you gonna to do with all this stuff?" Walk into her vintage shop on La Brea (a former Malibu Tile showroom) and find out just what it is she did. She rescued all those barrels of handmade quilts, beaded dresses, tropical bark cloth that once made elegant curtains, lace hankies, doilies and slips, all those Hawaiian fabrics printed with old dyes for which the formula is lost . . . and piled em up high in her studio until shed amassed collections that leave you breathless. Then she opened Golyester. "Whew," said Harry. All those American and Chinese icons, representing years of craftsmanship, were just waiting to be coveted, says Esther, whose collection of rare textiles (from circa 1900 through the 50s), trims and laces inspires high-end designers and Hollywood stylists alike. And when youre nearly moved to tears by her stock of hand-embroidered shawls from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Esther tells you that her real pride and joy is her staff: Linda Davis (owns 100 pairs of vintage rayon PJs, purchased on-site, no doubt), Michele Bigler (old shoes, 80 pairs), Cynthia Howell (also shoes yes, there are catfights), Leslie Baker-Gee (60s kitsch) and Penny Whisler (Victorian whites), all of whom, she says, adorn her store with style and grace and afford her the time to shop for those perfect little head-turning 40s cotton dresses (under $100), shopping as only Esther can shop.136 S. La Brea Ave.; (213) 931-1339.
HOSS? LIL JOE? MANICURE TIME.Manhattan Health and Beauty.
To enter this store is to enter a bonanza of beauty. Hair- and skin-care products from all over Europe, aromatherapy oils and candles, bath oils, nail polishes in every color you can possibly imagine (and some you might not want to), cellulite cream if it makes you feel beautiful, you can find it here. The staff is knowledgeable and wont try to sell you the most expensive thing in the store (if they dont believe its right for you). You can also have your hair cut and colored, get manicured, pedicured, massaged, facialed and, in a private back room, waxed. I treated myself to the aromatherapy manicure-pedicure, which included a muscle-stimulation chair, a warm neck collar filled with aromatic herbs and flowers, a paraffin dip, and a hand and foot massage with aromatherapy oils blended by the manicurist herself. A good indulgence is the "Day of Beauty," which includes a shampoo-cut-style, a manicure, a facial and lunch for $100.1006 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 374-9890
. (Michele Birkner)
BEST STRIP MALLCitadel Factory Stores.
Theres no need to drive to far-flung locales to satisfy your outlet-shopping urge. The Citadel Factory Stores in Commerce are nine miles south of downtown. The 42 outlets include Benetton, Betsey John son, Eddie Bauer, Old Navy, Vans, Ann Taylor, Max Studio and Joan & David. Theres a food court and free parking. Exit at Washington Boulevard; the building is the former Firestone Tire Factory.100 Citadel Dr., City of Commerce; (213) 888-1220.
BEST ARNIEThe Tailor at Fazio Cleaners in Man hattan Beach.
This suburban branch of the chain dry cleaner has a well-kept secret: Arnie. Arnie the tailor sits at his sewing machine, surrounded by bright spools of thread, laughing and joking with customers, and turning out the best alterations money can buy. (And for not much money a basic hem is about $12.) Since Im 53", everything I buy off the rack is too long, so I love that I can just walk in, toss my skirt or pants on the counter, say "take off two inches" and know that within 48 hours Ill have it back and itll be perfect. Its always disappointing when you take something to a tailor denim for example that has those nice, flat side seams and double-stitched hems, and they come back looking like you fixed them yourself. Arnies gift is in returning your clothes to you exactly the way they looked when you brought them in, only shorter. Or smaller. Or whatever-er.2660 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-9702
. (Michele Birkner)
Nestled in this harbor citys ever-morphing downtown is Cheap 4,000 square feet of secondhand ecstasy antiques, knick-knacks and vintage-clothing bargains on racks reaching the ceiling. Owner Mike Greenwood prices his clothes at the register dresses generally $3 to $10, skirts $2 to $4. A kitschy plaid sport coat (were talking elbow patches here) will run you $3 to $5. As with any secondhand store, be sure to check items for tears and rust stains Greenwood will give you a fair shake for fixer-uppers.705 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro;(310) 547-1000
. (Nicole Campos)
. . . AND THEN SHE GOES, LIKE, "FROCK," YOU KNOW? JUST LIKE THAT: "FROCK!" AND IM LIKE, IM SURE. IM SO FUCKING SURE . . .Contempo Casuals.
If youre fond of the trendy fashions worn by theSassy/Clueless
crowd (and who can deny the utter cuteness of todays halter top and miniskirt-wearing youth?), then most likely you have the cash (and the body) to pull it off. Fear not, financially challenged fashion whores. Hidden away just east of Glendale is an unassuming little mall called Eagle Rock Plaza with a store yourSingled Out
watching self has been waiting for: a Contempo Casuals half-off outlet! Thats right, clothing queens, over half of the store is packed with racks and racks of markdowns most 50 percent to 75 percent off. Browsing through the overpacked racks can be a workout, but youll run across some of the odder stuff they couldnt sell at the big malls all the better for the adventurous. Check out this discounted house of fads before you even consider shelling out your hard-earned cash on the latest looks.Eagle Rock Plaza, 27000 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (213) 258-2795.
BEST TOT SNIPPERYYellow Balloon.
There are plenty of hair salons where you can take your child for a haircut, but Yellow Balloon is a salon where kidsrule
. My 5-year-old daughter loves the glamour of being pampered, powdered and blow-dryed. There are pinball machines to play, pictures to color, a cookie jar at each station, and the water-spritz bottles (the stylists dont shampoo kids hair even they arent that brave) are filled with floating toys. After that all-important very first haircut, parents are given the initial snip of hair in a special envelope and a Polaroid of the finished product. The stylists are skilled at soothing anxious little nerves, and they do quick, expert work for $11 to $14. All snipped tots leave the salon with cool stamps on their hands and a big yellow balloon around their wrists.1328 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 458-7947
. (Michele Birkner)
BEST HIP SNIPPERYDelux Beauty Parlor.
Sort of like a cross between the beauty parlor inThe Wizard of Oz
and Andy Warhols Factory, this comfortable, full-service salon was started two and a half years ago by partners Roz Music, Jill Fink and Molly Stern, a trio of cosmeticians and makeup artists who are triple-handedly responsible for more Tinseltown glamour than the entire cast ofHeliotrope Lane 90026
. Although the staff may look intimidating at first theyre uniformly coifed and manicured in the latest ultratrendy styles, attired in to-die-for funky chic theres a prevailing sense of warm, kooky fun and casual "just us gals" folksiness: none of the usual salon snobbery to be found here! In a beautiful, curvilinear deco atmosphere, they do hair for $55 to $75, coloring and tinting in the same price range, as well as waxing. Their extraordinary manicurist, Cynthia Kendall, will do your fingernails with Deluxs fantastic custom line of polishes (plus give you a heavenly hand and arm massage). The polishes have not only cool colors and great names ("Hula Hula" is an opaque turquoise; "Matador" is a bloody true red), but great staying power. Though they think dropping celeb names is cheesy, they just did the makeup for the new videos of Tonya Donelly and Beck, and Roz cheerfully admits that when John Taylor of Duran Duran walked in, "We all hyperventilated and fell on the floor!"727 N. Fairfax Ave.; (213) 658-8585
. (Pleasant Gehman)
BEST RUBBERS FOR LANDLUBBERSDive n Surf.
You decide its time to get that first wet suit. So what if youre only into light bodysurfing or occasional sea kayaking. That water gets cold! Youve been admiring the local boys all decked out in their neon-accented Body Gloves for long enough. Dive n Surf has 10 times the selection and, by the nature of the capitalist beast, much lower prices than youll find at SportMart. Choose from winter suits, summer suits and half suits. All suited up, looking like a pro hell, you might even go in the water.504 N. Broadway, Redondo Beach; (310) 372-8423.
BEST HOOKER SHOESNikkis.
If The Artist Formerly Known As Prince were still producing Vanity 6, hed make them shop for shoes at Nikkis. If Betty Page were still posing for pinups, this would be her supplier. Every Times Square foot-fetishist fantasy comes true in this store, which stocks shoes from Ken "Crimes of Passion
" Russells wildest dreams. Nikkis features footwear such as lace-up thigh-high vinyl animal-print boots, shocking blue sparkly stilettos with seven-inch heels, demure-yet-kinky Victorian-tapestry ankle-high booties and platforms, platforms, platforms. Day-Glo colors, Grable-esque ankle straps, metallics, lethal lucite mules you name it, this place has it. Catering mostly to exotic dancers and the adult film industry, Nikkis has over a hundred styles in stock, ranging in price from $30 to $350. They also have many shoes available in larger sizes up to 16 for hard-to-fit big gals and, of course, cross-dressers. A word to the uninitiated: Some of these shoes might serve you better if they never touch the ground (wink-wink) and only face the ceiling!6500 Hollywood Blvd.; (213) 461-8208
. (Pleasant Gehman)
GOODBYE, FESTERIN CARBUNCLESSkin Sense.
One of the big fibs of childhood, ranking right up there with "When youre older youll understand," is the widely promulgated myth that acne ends with adolescence. In fact, for many adults it actually gets worse. Year after year, those mighty carbuncles continue to erupt every which way, seemingly immune to the best of toners, cleansers and creams. At Skin Sense, a tiny, unpretentious, yellow-awninged storefront that bills itself as "an English day spa," youll find a well-trained staff armed and ready to drain the life out of those pus-filled pimples. Depending on how the facialist (ask for Nancee) assesses the state of your dermis that day, the hour-long treatment may include a peel or a mask or an herbal remedy. It always features a firm (and sometimes painful) but highly effective squeezing, a face, shoulder and neck massage, and a good 10 or 15 minutes of just lying there in the darkness with cool cotton pads over your eyes whilst soothing melodies float about. Ahh. 8448 W. Third St.; (213) 653-4701
. (Sara Catania)
THURSTON & LOVEYS CASTAWAYSGoodwill Shoppe.
One of the smallest Goodwill stores in greater Los Angeles also has the best-quality clothing Ive ever seen. The Redondo Beach Goodwill Shoppe seems to have the line on designer shirts, blouses, slacks and skirts. Even the lesser pieces are in excellent shape and could pass muster in a stuffy office job. Among the Evan Picone, Arrow and Armani lurk a good number of suede skirts, fur coats and hats, plus high-quality woolens and London Fog raincoats. There are also fine linen and rayon dresses still bearing their department-store price tags. While the Goodwill Shoppe doesnt really carry your fun n wacky retro duds, you can definitely find things you can wear.317 Torrance Blvd. (at PCH), Redondo Beach; (310) 379-4612
. (Suzy Beal)
MATERIAL, GIRL?Michael Levine.
Down towns fashion district is teeming with stores offering fabrics at dirt-cheap prices. But when you dont have the time or patience to search through mounds and mounds of ugly prints just to find one good one, and you want quality at a fair price and validated parking downtown (with a $15 purchase), theres only one place you can go Michael Levine. Aspiring clothing designers have known about the place for years, not only because of the huge selection but because of the special deals. With several long racks of remnants, tables offering special savings on fake fur, velvet, lace, rayon and silk (to name a few), plus bins filled with such specials as satin at $1.50 a yard and lamé at $2, Michael has it.920 S. Maple St., downtown; (213) 622-6259.
BEST GRANDMAS ATTICMuskrat Vintage Clothing
. At 16, I loved flea markets and junk stores, and prying open locked trunks and my grandmothers 40s dresses. When I grew up and married a rich man, I spent big bucks on new frocks that looked old (half Salvation Army, half Giorgios). When I left him, I went back to thrift-shopping and, of course, Im much happier now . . . even though I do have this obsession with collecting prewar clothing and jewelry. Some of my best indulgences have come from Muskrat; a bonafide thrift in this Age of Vintage, albeit a Cadillac of a thrift. Expect to find unpolished gems amid rust with a needle and thread, a good cleaning and some Bakelite buttons, most of what Muskrat stocks can be given new life. Old collectible Hawaiian shirts are a particular passion of owner Tom Kampas, whose methods of scoring all this great stuff remain a complete mystery. He spends his days surfing and hunting for old cars, guitars and baseball shirts, which hed never sell. (Not everything, you see, has a price.)1248 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; (310) 394-1713.
BEST PEP BOYS FOR YER HEADRobinsons Beautilities.
Along with makeup, hair-care products, nail polish, hair accessories, lotions, creams, cotton balls and the like, Robinsons Beautilities stocks an unbelievable line of wigs (everything from glamour-puss falls, switches and hairpieces to clown hair) and thousands of costumes (for rent or to buy). In business for over 30 years, Robinsons always has a makeup artist and an alterations lady on the premises to do make-overs (usually free with purchase!) and costume fittings. This is the place to go for any type of theatrical makeup Ben Nye, Cinema Secrets, La Femme and Joe Blasco, among others but also stuff like latex noses and fake scars, cosmetic-grade glitter and the like. You could go into this store to pick up a bottle of nail-polish remover and be lost for hours browsing through the fascinating and fun stuff here. And remember Halloweens just around the corner!12320 Venice Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 398-5757.
BEST PLACE TO FIGHT WITH A SCREAMING BABY FOR A PAIR OF SHARKSKIN BELL-BOTTOMSThe Salvation Army Thrift Store.
A mecca to all those who worship cheap junk, the Salvation Army in Santa Monica is a vast field of dreams where maidens wear polyester and prophets haggle over the price of old suits. These gilded racks of clothes are no secret to anyone. Expect to fight for space and elbow your way past yuppies, homeless people, Melrose chicks, screaming babies and . . . freelance day laborers. The management has hired a security guard in case anyone gets out of line and people do. The huge flow of stuff coming through means if youre diligent, you may score a gorgeous sports jacket in great shape for $8, or a snappy pair of sharkskin slacks for $5. The womens section is gigantic and unsurpassed. There are no changing rooms, so expect to see semi-naked bag ladies. The folks who run this place are aware of the diamond mine theyre sitting on, so some things can be expensive like a pair of Levis thats almost all holes for $8. The Salvation Armyowned boutique next door is ridiculously priced and should be avoided.1658 11th St., Santa Monica; (310) 450-7235
. (Adam Bregman)
BEST GIFTS FOR YOUR HUNThe Sword and the Stone.
Need an etched and jewel-inlaid copy of the Charlemagne sword? How about a Crusader helmet from the Tower of London? Tony Swatton, who made the silver hook forHook
, the swords for theConan
TV series, even some of the "bat grapples" fromBatman
, has expanded his private showroom into a stone-walled, medieval emporium of custom and off-the-rack armor and swords (and axes, spears and knives). Here, youll find yourself among Viking, Byzantine and Spanish pirating gear, with the option to spend upwards of $5,000 for a gold-wire-wrapped "Excalibur" sword, or $150 for your basic, low-end Viking throwing-ax. Be you of milder humors, there are more accessible gifts, such as piratical stationery, gem-studded necklaces and amulets, and the cutest steel swords for opening letters.723 N. Victory Blvd., Burbank; (818) 562-6548.
THIS YEARS NICE AND/OR LOVELY THING (FOR OUR LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE READERS)The Address.
The first time I went to the Address, it was for that devastatingly important teenage ritual, the prom. While thoughts of buttons and boutonnieres danced in my head, the staff at the Address was intimately obliging, a welcome reprieve from the hypercool tautness of Westside chains. Prices run from $50 to $1,050 but even the most expensive item is well worth the ticket. A stretchy black Alaia T-back dress, originally $1,000, goes for $248; a slate-blue Donna Karan pantsuit of nubby knit wool crepe, originally $1,500, goes for $150; and an outspoken red Moschino suit, originally $2,800, goes for $195. The Address carries both new and used glam (plus shoes, accessories and lingerie), and offers free soda and advice for the lost and lovelorn.1116 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 394-1406
. (Laura Anderson)
NAPPY AND PEPPY AND BURSTING WITH JAHMy People by Allesa.
If youre one of those supremely nappy-haired people whove been waiting all your life for the hairdresser wholl tell you that you have "good hair," then My People by Allesa offers the service of your dreams. Allesas specialty is that relatively new phenomenon of professional dreadlock twisting, and shell do it either in her Echo Park home or in a salon on Slauson. Allesa, who also hosts a "comedic reality" show on cable access television, will get your locks rockin in an atmosphere thats mad cool. True rastas might blanche at the notion of such headwork, but as Allesa puts it, if your dreads are antennae for Jah, then they can always use a little tuning. $40 per session.2621 Slauson Ave.; (213) 481-0048
. (Donnell Alexander)
BEST CUSTOM-MADE BATHING SUITSTurtle Beach.
Most womens bathing suits are designed to fit fantasy images of women tall, thin and curvy, sans hips, thighs or anything that droops. Thats how come we can try on dozens and have all of em look, well, quite honestly . . . lousy. Who wants to strut down a magnificent Caribbean beach lookin like that? Its downright depressing. Designer and Turtle Beach owner Conny Tielbeke can sweeten things up without sweat, starvation or surgery. First, she reallylooks
at you. Then she asks you what you want and why. You try on the basic models and work from there French cut, bikini, hip hugger, Bardot cups, triangle or underwire, 30s, Monroe 50s, velvet, satin, lycra, nylon, cotton, print or solid, black, purple, green Tielbeke labors to accentuate your positive attributes while masking your flaws. A higher-cut leg or a lower-cut waist, exposing less butt or more, can make the difference between swank and stain. Bolts of fabric many from Switzerland, France and Italy line the back wall where the suits are created. It takes about two weeks to have a suit made, cost about $175, depending on the fabric and style you choose. Pricey? Perhaps. Beautiful?"Mais oui, madame." 318½ N. La Cienega Blvd.; (310) 652-6039.
THE CREAM OF THE CRAPRoss Dress for Less.
Ive gotten a lot of great stuff at Ross for way cheap, including two pairs of Hush Puppies for $20 a pair, Levis for $15 and Adrienne Vittadini sheets for a mere $30. Ross rules! But Ross can suck. To navigate the often murky seas of Ross, follow my set of "Ross rules," carefully cultivated from cruel experience: 1. Dont bother with the Ross on Third and Fairfax; its old-lady central, and those babes can be nasty rude, not to mention they always end up quibbling with the cashier and holding up the line till youre as old as they are. Instead, hit the mellower Ross at Sunset and La Brea. 2. Go during off hours mornings are okay, but thats also when many moms show up and block the aisles with strollers containing invariably screaming children, whom they ignore. The best time is around 6 p.m, when everyone is eating dinner or stuck in traffic. 3. Before you enter, decide on no more than three sections to ransack theres a lot of crap in there, and slogging through too much will addle your mind and impair your judgment. Simply follow these rules without deviation and I guarantee a world full of goodies will be yours.7060 Sunset Blvd.; (213) 465-0738.
BEST THREADS FOR THE SWING SETJulians Vintage Clothing.
When I desperately needed a Holly Golightly velvet hat, I hightailed it to Julian. A Philadelphia transplant, hes been styling L.A. for six years, making the "kids go crazy" with his 30s to 50s dresses, dinner jackets, beaded sweaters, coats and velvet in time-machine condition. But the accessories are what make Julians really nifty: the greatest selection of handbags, hats, shoes, furs and costume jewelry this side of 1949. Prices are always negotiable, and hell happily offer advice if you cant make up your mind between the tortoise-shell handbag and the 40s satin nightie. Dont ask for the polyester era, however, or hell roll his eyes and say, "Im from the 60s, and I detested the clothes even then."8366 W. Third St.; (213) 655-3011
. (Skylaire Alfvegren)
AN INHUMAN SELECTION OF WIGSHollywood Toys and Costumes.
I walked into this toy, costume and wig superstore on a whim and emerged moments later with a glamorous new persona. You can find the traditional Dolly Parton dos, circaBest Little Whorehouse in Texas
, as well as chic bobs, sexy long tresses and cascading wavy wigs in "human hair colors" black, brown, blond and auburn. But the real excitement is the punk selection, or "nonhuman" colors. Electric blues, reds, purples and pinks are perfect for those who seek to shock yet fear hair dye. There are also dainty pastel purple, pink and even shimmery white wigs for those more demure moods.6600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (213) 464-4444.
A PASSIONATE TRIBUTE TO OLD, LOVELY THINGSPolkadots & Moonbeams.
When Wendy Freedman Borsuk opened her vintage shop on Third Street some 15 years ago, the neighborhood was made up of temples, butchers and bakers, and the Beverly Center had yet to arise. There were thrift shops and junk stores in the city, but they were mostly full of dirty, yucky, dowdy, musty-smelling stuff. Using a Frank Sinatra song and her grandmother as inspiration, Borsuk went about creating a passionate tribute to old, lovely things thats clean and fresh and playful. I try on a new tropical-style dress made of an old curtain. The cups are too big, I point out to Borsuk. "Stuff em," she says. "Thats what they used to do." New Hawaiian shirts of vintage printed silks commingle with 30s beaded cashmeres, 50s swimsuits, bias-cut slips and $35 dresses with so much swank they can give a girl a reputation. There are no stains; fabrics are still vivid; everythings pressed; buttons are in place. Each piece has fallen under the critical gaze of Borsuk, or of assistant Molly Corey, herself a Polkadots patron since the age of 10. In the modern-wear shop seven doors up the block, new dresses by Nicole Miller and Steffi Dobrindt look as though theyve come out of the 40s. The differences? Price, fit, a 90s wink here and there; but the truth is, customers run back and forth between the two stores because there are treasures in both thatll withstand the harsh test of time.
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