Countless mariachi costumes and folklorico gowns have begun their lives in a modest shop off Cesar Chavez Avenue, Elias Designs. Owner-designer Elias Roldan works with each customer to make sure that each traje de charro — or mariachi suit — fits the body and soul of the artist. You can get your botonaduras gold-plated, if you like — those jangly ornaments that run down a mariachi's straight-cut pant leg. Or you can go greca, sporting the patterned appliqué that can suggest anyplace from la frontera to indigenous Central America, depending on the motif. Women's folkorico costumes come in variety of colorful ruffles, ribbons and hairpieces. Roldan is well-versed in the subtle differences in fashion, which can vary from one Mexican state to the next, so it helps to have an idea of what you want before you walk in the door. A complete mariachi outfit, from sombrero to pistol holder, will set you back $350 to $2,000, depending on how much charro bling you think you can get away with. A bargain it's not, but you're unlikely to find this level of quality and expertise on the Westside. Accessories like custom bows and sombreros make delightful souvenirs, and can be ordered individually — for far less money than a full outfit. Trumpets and heartbroken lyrics sold separately. 2734 E. Cesar Chavez Ave., L.A. (323) 268-2929.

—Todd Krainin

LA Weekly