Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Living in your 20s: Out of the Closet, Style in the suburbs for under $30

Living in your 20s: Out of the Closet
Style in the suburbs for under $30
By Marcos Luevanos

Living in the suburbs has its advantages: weekend anonymity from city-dwelling co-workers, proximity to ironic dining establishments, traffic as a legitimate excuse to evade nearly anything. There are 101 reasons to love the fringes of metropolis, but thrift stores—and the vintage clothing they carry—never fail to crack the top of the list. After years of secondhand shopping everywhere in L.A., from the most edited boutiques to the materially unpredictable, I’ve found that not only do vintage shops in the ’burbs have lower prices, they also tend to have more adventurous stock.

Don’t get me wrong, buying from thrift stores in neighborhoods more commonly known for their sartorial aesthetic is always fun, but it can sometimes feel as futile as combing John Travolta’s receding hairline. Why frequent any retail establishment where some hungover hipster is always one amazing find ahead of you?

While the Out of the Closet thrift store chain is hardly new to Los Angeles—there are 12 in Southern California—the superstore in Glassell Park recently proved to be more than just your average consignment shop. On the surface it appears to be like any other bead in their necklace of outfitters, but upon closer inspection—looking past the old mirrors, wicker patio furniture and VHS tapes of “Jane Fonda’s Workout”—the clothing and accessories delivered the goods.

With only $30 to spend, I started by looking at (what else?) the shoes. I found a pair of brown leather topsiders that fit me perfectly, but because they were $15, I carried them around knowing full well I might have to ditch them at the end of my spree. When shopping vintage I usually allow myself the opportunity to purchase louder items; because I’m spending so little, I can indulge in all things eccentric, from costume jewelry cameos to OshKosh overalls.

The topsiders (more commonly know as boat shoes) served as the inspiration for a preppy/nautical-chic outfit. I spotted a pair of light-blue above-the-knee corduroy cargo shorts that, according to the blue tag—OOTC has a color-coded pricing system—were only $1. After temporarily wandering into blazer territory, I found the perfect pastel gray houndstooth sweater vest with a midnight-blue-and-burgundy pattern for only $6.25.

I tried on many a shirt to match the shorts/vest combo before I finally settled on a classic white short-sleeved dress shirt that was $6.25. Ordinarily, I dislike button-down collars, but I was going for pelagic prep and made an exception.

In the end I purchased the $15 shoes, the $1 cargo shorts, the $6.25 sweater vest and the $6.25 white shirt, for a grand total of $28.50. Living in your ’20s isn’t easy, but if you thrift, even folks in the ’burbs can look sweet on the cheap.

Follow this link for more photos from my shopping trip»

Marcos Luevanos is Style editor for Metromix Los Angeles.

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