CAST-OFF COUTURE – SOCAL’S DESIGNER RESALE AND VINTAGE CLOTHING BOUTIQUES

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Ever wonder what happens when moneyed fashionistas grow weary of their $12,000 vintage 60s Chanel gown or their $1,200 Valentino Garavani “Russian Ballet” scarf? Or when a washed-up career sends celebs from the A list to the D list? Well, as the saying goes, when times get tough, the tough unload their Louboutin … or their Lanvin.

Consider that your magic moment. Because if you’re savvy enough to know where to unearth such a cache of castaway couture—for a fraction of the original cost—then that cement walkway from your driveway to your car could soon resemble the runway in Milan during Fashion Week …

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Castaway Couture: SoCal’s Designer Resale and Vintage Clothing Boutiques
by Jenni Keast

Ever wonder what happens when moneyed fashionistas grow weary of their $12,000 vintage 60s Chanel gown or their $1,200 Valentino Garavani “Russian Ballet” scarf? Or when a washed-up career sends celebs from the A list to the D list? Well, as the saying goes, when times get tough, the tough unload their Louboutin … or their Lanvin.

Consider that your magic moment. Because if you’re savvy enough to know where to unearth such a cache of castaway couture—for a fraction of the original cost—then that cement walkway from your driveway to your car could soon resemble the runway in Milan during Fashion Week.

To help all you lovers of Lavigne, fans of Fendi and devotees of Dior, we have “the list.” Here, spanning five counties, are a few of the upscale designer resale and vintage clothing boutiques that are worth a visit.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Boutique: Renaissance Fine Consignment, Santa Barbara

Type: Contemporary and vintage high-end and mid-level designers. Consignment only.

It’s that magical mix of “location, location, location” meets provenance—complete with exposed beans, oriental rugs and fabulous art. It’s what every store proprietor with taste and fashion breeding wants—and the lovely Joanne Younger is lucky enough to live in a city with the “right” clientele to appreciate such things. Ditto the kind of tourists who walk through her door. A $4,200 Chanel belted tweed coat? No problem. An $800 Mary McFadden gown to gladden your day? It’s in the bag. That’s chump change compared to the original price of these designer duds.

But don’t be too depressed if the only kind of “coco” you can afford is the kind you mix with milk on a frosty morning. Because while haute couture is alive and well at the Renaissance Boutique in Santa Barbara, so are designers for the rest of us. Tory Burch, Helmut Lang, Diane Von Furstenberg and Kate Spade are all there for a song—and sometimes only a verse or two when you find these designers’ creations on Renaissance’s sale rack. Distinctives: Stunning location, beautifully decorated store and personable hands-on owner with a friendly and knowledgeable staff. http://www.renaissancecorp.com/

LOS ANGELES COUNTY:

Boutique: The Way We Wore, Hancock Park

Type: Contemporary and vintage high-end designers. No consignments.

It’s no surprise that L.A. has more high-end designer resale and vintage boutiques than a Beverly Hills pooch has fleas. (Wait, they don’t get fleas!) But if we could only pick one on the uber-upper-end scale, then The Way We Wore designer vintage boutique fits the bill. Known as THE arbiter of L.A. and international fashion, owner and curator Doris Raymond is also the star of her Smithsonian Channel docu-reality series, L.A. Frock Stars. Translated: She knows haute couture. Moreover, she’s dedicated to help make you look good.

Love 40s films and the stars that shined in them? Then channel your inner Loretta Young with one of her dresses—a stunning 60s Jean-Louis gold paisley patterned gown and turban for $1,200. Have a figure that’s just made for a formfitting 80s jumpsuit—with cutouts? Then take that $2,500 you were going to spend on something as mundane as your mortgage and show up to the party with Sarli—the Italian designer who fashioned a heavily embellished vintage 90s sheer jumpsuit, perhaps worn by Elizabeth Taylor or Mona Belluci.

For those with champagne tastes without the bubbly (cash), take heart. Doris has recently launched an online boutique for the common folk: Voguely Familiar. There, you can pick up one-of-a-kind vintage, designer and contemporary fashion items for $99 and under. Such a deal! Distinctives: Iconic items, frequented by designers and celebs, online shopping and personalized service. www.thewaywewore.com

Boutique: MS Vintage, Playa del Rey

Type: High-end vintage, both couture brands and unlabeled one-of-kind items. No consignments.

Have you been injured by a poor fashion choice? Experienced loss or emotional suffering as the result of acquiring a piece of designer vintage clothing that simply didn’t suit you? Then call and speak to the law firm of Sabrina, Marsha, Ziggy and Theo, a.k.a. MS Vintage. They can help. (And their little dogs, too.)

Owners Marsha and Sabrina may be music industry lawyers, but they’re also vintage clothing purveyors, headquartering their dual careers in one fun, artsy location—Playa del Rey. Their collection ranges all over the vintage fashion map … from a Chanel necklace, to a rare pair of Maison Martin Margiela sneakers, to a VERY rare unbranded French military jacket, to … well, check out the photos on their Facebook page and you’ll see for yourself! Distinctives: Artistic integrity, a non-salesy manner, men’s clothing, furnishings and personalized service. http://www.msvintage.net/

VENTURA COUNTY

Boutique: Love at Second Sight, Thousand Oaks

Type: Contemporary high-end and mid-level designers. Consignment only.

Can’t do without your Choo? Wish that Chanel would be less chummy with L.A. and strike up a relationship with the Channel Islands? Don’t despair! Pre-loved Jimmy and Coco can both be found at this laid-back designer resale boutique in Ventura County—along with Christian Louboutin and more egalitarian brands such as hippie-glam Free People and funky Jeffrey Campbell—both of whom are loved by boho-leaning Millennials. Second Sight’s owner, Danielle Pardee, offers the designer-loving women of Thousand Oaks and the surrounding areas a way to avoid crazy L.A. traffic, hipster overkill and parking Nazi’s.

This store is more befitting sleepy Ventura County than the purported second largest fashion capital of the world (L.A.), so don’t expect to be wowed by gowns you’d see in a Parisian store window, or a Hollywood celebrity’s red carpet castoff. But the owner’s fashion choices are well culled and more affordable to the fashionista on a budget. Distinctives: Personalized service, friendly staff and three big sales a year. www.boutiquewestlakevillageca.com

ORANGE COUNTY

Boutique: Bellissima, Corona del Mar

Type: Contemporary. Consignment only.

St. John Knits lovers rejoice—there’s a mecca for you. Hidden away in Corona del Mar is a gem of a designer resale consignment shop—run by haute couture “saint” Adriana Spitzer, former international designer consultant for Nordstrom and a St. John Knits specialist for over 16 years. But St. John isn’t all that this terrific boutique carries—designers such as Chanel (Coco has her own special section), Hermes, Commes des Garcons and Balenciaga are all well represented here—and well taken care of. As one loyal Bellissima customer remarked, “It’s hard to tell that anything here was pre-owned—it all looks brand-new!” Distinctives: Largest collection of St. John Knits anywhere, layaway and highly personalized service. http://www.bellissimaconsignment.com/

SAN DIEGO

Boutique: La Femme Chic, Solano Beach

Type: Contemporary and vintage. Consignment only.

Shop. Consign. Love That’s the motto at Le Femme Chic, and they’re sticking to it—with high sticker prices for high-end designer goodies, but far below what you’d pay for them right out of the box. Really, if you can snatch up a vintage gold chain-and-leather Chanel belt for under a grand and Christian Louboutin spiked aqua patent peep-toe heels for under $600 in primo condition, then why not? They’ve got spikes! (Who needs pepper spray?)

Kidding aside, there are some serious bargains to be had at this truly upscale consignment boutique located in the charming Cedros District of Solano Beach. Louis Vuitton, Coach, James Perse, Splendid, DVF and Chanel—they’re all there. So when you’re ready to procure some couture for your well-outfitted closet, don’t overlook this treasure trove of tantalizing pre-loved designer wear. Distinctives: Beautiful location, helpful staff and a request list. http://www.lafemmechicconsignment.com/

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