Major retailers (Bendels), boutiques, manufacturers (Forever 21) and wholesalers donate fashions, fabric and accessories from both last season and this season to the FIDM scholarship store, which sells the merch at 50 to 90 percent off retail prices, supporting the scholarship program at FIDM. Many items are damaged but reparable, or are samples, labeled as such. Digging is rewarded, as is an active imagination: Think Halloween and you'll discover more possibilities than if you're looking for a wear-to-work skirt. Formal dresses, suitable for bridesmaids, brides, red-carpet events and playing dress-up, range from $25 to $100. While this place is definitely not for those who don't like to work for their fashion, the FIDM store is an easy way to get this season's trends for pennies. Where else can you find a coat for $8 or a swimsuit for $2? Fabric is $1 to $2 a yard and is the best deal in the place. 919 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn. (corner of Ninth and Grand). (213) 624-1200, ext. 2617. (Closed Sun.)

—Kate Coe

LA Weekly