In this post, I will be discussing my love affair with second-hand clothing and listing my four favorite thrift stores in LA (aka charity shops to English folk).
Thrift stores usually carry negative connotations. They’re often viewed as dingy, dirty places stocked with other people’s rejects. Why would you want to pay for other people’s refuse? Many reasons! It’s not “refuse” for a start. I would like to encourage everyone to wear or at least try pre-loved clothing. I look at secondhand clothing as re-purposing or recycling. It’s a great way to stick to a budget but inject your wardrobe with something different. Best of all, wearing secondhand clothing prevents clothes with plenty of life left from being dumped into landfills.
I’ve grown up quoting the saying that “one man’s junk, is another man’s treasure.” Ever since I can remember, my parents would take me to thrift stores, swap meets (we call them boot fairs in England), vintage stores and antique stores. In fact, one of the many businesses my Grandpa owned was an antique shop.
I haven’t always had a love for secondhand clothing. At the age of seven, I realised that thrift shopping wasn’t seen as “cool” to my classmates. I went through a phase of being embarrassed that parts of my wardrobe were second hand. I remember resenting an aunt of mine for dragging me along as she visited every single charity shop in my hometown of Faversham. During one memorable trip, I darted from store to store adopting spy like behavior in the hope that none of my classmates would catch me going to a thrift store. Thankfully, by my teens, I didn’t feel self-conscious about sporting second-hand clothing. In fact, I celebrated finding hidden gems, bagging a bargain and supporting anti-consumerist causes.
Without any further ado, below are my four favourite thrift stores:
There are a bunch of Buffalo Exchanges across the US and there are three in LA: Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Sherman Oaks. I haven’t visited the Sherman Oaks store but can attest to the other two. Both stores have an eclectic mix of high street brands and a pretty good ratio of men to women’s clothing. Options range from cheap high street brands such as H&M to more expensive pieces by companies like Ted Baker. If you’re a student, you can get 10% off by providing your ID.
National Council of Jewish Women
I was introduced to the National Council of Jewish Woman by my in-laws. They sell everything and anything from glassware, jigsaw puzzles to jackets. This is the kind of the thrift store I grew up visiting. During my last visit, I picked up some cute vintage style purses for less than $2 each. They had previously been owned by someone in the “industry”. I know this because an old contact card was left in the inside pocket. It was fun playing detective and googling the previous owner. The store isn’t much to look at it. However, if you can put the look of the place aside, I’m sure you’d find a good jumper to tide you over this mild Autumn to Winter for less than a fiver.
I visited LA once before moving and I fell in love with American Rag. American Rag sells new and used clothing. The hat I am wearing in the shots accompanying this post is from their vintage section. There are two stores, one in La Brea and one in Newport beach. So far I have only been to their La Brea store where I found their used clothing to have a very carefully curated feel to it. They offer men’s and woman’s clothing and it was actually on a guy’s recommendation that I visited that first time.
Wasteland is a different breed of thrift. Their store front is very pretty and you can tell they’ve spent a lot of time planning their look and feel. Their stock consists of new clothing alongside racks of gently worn pieces. Choices range from last season’s Wildfox jumpers to brand new silky Equipment dresses. Wasteland has stores in Santa Monica and Studio City but their best is the one in Hollywood. Their pricing is at the higher end of second-hand clothing but I think that’s to be expected if you’re buying a pair of Louboutin’s or a Vivienne Westwood dress.
Wasteland offers a service where you can take your own pre-loved clothing and they will sell it for a commission fee. In London, I found a great store where I’d buy second-hand clothing. Quite often when I’d finished with a piece, I’d take it back to the same store to sell it. I liked the idea of multiple people enjoying the same beautiful garment and I’ll admit it was handy building up credit to spend instore, which you can also do at Wasteland.
Dress & Necklace: UK thrift stores
Hat: American Rag
Shoes: Vegan by Melissa
Photography: Frances Von Wong