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How To B. Chic

Warning: If you, like me, are on a shopping moratorium of any degree or duration, don’t go to B. Chic. It is not for the temptable. I only went for this piece — hubby, are you listening? — and barely two questions into an interview my eye was wandering just about everyplace in this small but seemingly infinite boutique on La Brea Avenue with the cheery/lusty red walls: first to a corner where sexy knit tunics hung from racks, then to a high shelf lined with ruched, ruffled leather purses, to designer heels and finally to a backroom that beckoned with party clothes glowing hot with understated glitz. And the bulk of jeans, tops, skirts, dresses and accessories fall on the lower end of the price scale. Darn.

The lure of such fun stuff notwithstanding, I am more apt to sin at B. Chic than in other parts of town because it happens to be in my part of town — Inglewood. This is not the Hollywood-adjacent La Brea of American Rag, but the avenue several miles south, where it dips down from Baldwin Hills at Slauson Avenue into Inglewood city limits at 64th Street and then makes its first major pit stop at Centinela. That three-block stretch of the avenue has always been charming in its own right, and B. Chic owner Bridget Willis affirmed as much by opening last year in a muted, industrial storefront that was once a tax office. Not everybody thought it was such a good idea.

“There was really nothing on this block — people thought it was unrealistic,” says Willis, a vivacious 26-year-old L.A. native and Howard University grad with a degree in biology. She flirted with the idea of becoming a doctor or dentist before going into fashion full time. “They came in and looked around and said, ‘What are you doing here? You oughta be on Melrose or somewhere!’ ” She laughs, slightly incredulous. “But that’s why I’m here, because the market is right here — Ladera, Inglewood, Baldwin Hills. We shouldn’t have to go to Melrose. I hope I start a trend in the community.”

Willis’ aesthetic is what I call “fly woman”: brightly colored and nightclub funky but grownup at the same time. She’s constantly on the prowl for new looks or unique interpretations of current styles — customers tend to visit weekly just to see what she’s turned up — and culls much of her merchandise from a burgeoning local cadre of designers, as well as from more established designers as far away as Italy; she also gets ensembles straight off runways each season. Regular stock includes jeans by Gang Rio, handmade knitwear by Who’s That Lady, delectable bags by Ce Fou Shoo, and Willis’ own line, B. Chic. There are also shoes by Sonia Rykiel, dresses by Joy Nicholson (Jack’s daughter) — at least this week. I almost made it out of B. Chic unscathed, but there was this white leather, rhinestone-studded hip belt with a Western buckle in the window . . . and it was only $42 . . . and I didn’t have a belt on . . . you shopaholics out there know the rest of the story. Now go get your own.

B. Chic, 1031 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, (310) 673-2442.


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