Long before Rachel Zoe, controversial stylist to the stars, praised the benefits of wearing vintage, I had been rummaging for hidden treasures for years. Zoe claims it is the only way to have unique pieces no one else has, and she is right.
When the Vintage Expo hit Santa Monica, it cost a whopping $20 to get in, (thank God for my press pass) and then hundreds and hundreds of dollars to get your hands on some good pieces. Stylists go for inspiration, fashionistas go for deals and the rich go to shop.
But $45 for a grease-stained cardigan? Cruising the Vintage Expo was like being in yet another overpriced boutique in Los Angeles. These things are perfect for wealthy people who don't have the patience to drive around to the best boutiques and dig through racks to find that one special piece. Here it's all in one place, hanging on organized racks and draped across mannequins.
But for me, part of the thrill is the steal; knowing you landed a remarkable garment for a fraction of it's worth. Recently, I scored a mint condition 100% silk cocktail dress a la Mad Men for only $6 at an estate sale (see photo to the right). That's what I get excited about. Of course, shopping for vintage in Los Angeles is a lot more involved than it is in other towns. If anyone goes to the Salvation Army, it's been picked over by boutique scouts, who clean the racks of beautiful finds. All that are left are faded, pilled up and stained relics of the 90's, like forest green ribbed turtlenecks from the Gap. How depressing. All the good pieces are spiked in price and sent to vintage boutiques where they sometimes cost twice as much as a new item made just as well. What's the thrill in that?
For the best in cheap vintage, you must drive a bit past city limits. I get up early, grab a white mocha and head East. That's all I will say, for fear that the boutique vultures will descend upon the place with their Hefty lawn bags and toss everything in for the vintage shops in Los Feliz and on Abbott Kinney.
The Expo had stunning pieces of art, like this:
But this, this was NOT okay, not even in an ironic way: