Monday, August 27, 2012

Misty Water-Colored Memories...Of The Way We Wore

My (Chandra's) idea of fun couldn’t be better than a day spent vintage shopping with a friend, followed by lunch at a trendy cafe. So when my fellow Diva Lara suggested we spend the afternoon at the Los Angeles Boutique, The Way We Wore and then grab lunch at M Cafe on Melrose, I thought that was a pretty spiffy idea. 

Parking was a snap! We parked on La Brea about a block away from the store. There’s metered parking, but we happened to hit it on a Sunday so we didn’t have to feed the meters. However, no matter what time of day or night that you ever park anywhere in LA, check the signs! Some meters are 24/7 or there's restricted parking 24/7.

Upon entering, we were given a nice welcome by Jascmeen and told about the fabulous sale that was going on. Lara mentioned that we follow the store on Twitter and the immediate response was, “Are you Art Deco Divas?”  We’d been recognized!  

Doris Raymond, the owner, approached with a big smile and unforgettable blue eyes. She offered us a drink and gave us the low down on the store's layout. Everything in the store is wonderfully organized by decade, beginning with the 20’s and 30‘s on the right with shoes, hats and bags mixed in. 

If you head up the divine leopard print staircase, you’ll find the more intricate designer stuff and miles of shoes in a rainbow of colors and styles. Despite the store's organization, I didn’t know where to begin; I wanted to grab everything and yell, “Mine, mine, all mine!” 

Leopard Staircase to the Divine!
Doris, who has owned the shop for years, was charming and gracious and willing to talk with us about her feelings on vintage clothing. When we asked her how to best care for these wonderful pieces, she laughed and said, “Well, they really shouldn’t be hung, but unfortunately they have to be.”  

She explained that in order to preserve them and prevent stress on the delicate fabrics, she cycles them off the hangers regularly. Ideally, you would want to store your precious investment by wrapping it in an unbleached cotton sheet to keep it away from moisture and dust. Storing it in plastic on a hanger is a huge No-No

Lara wanted to run home and immediately save her vintage collection from their plastic hanging chambers of doom! The plastic doesn’t allow the fabric to breathe, and it can cause deterioration over time. Hanging it causes stress to the shoulder area, which can lead to tearing. See, shopping can be educational!

Doris likened herself to a foster parent, with the garments being her children. She said that she felt as though she needed to care for them until they could find another loving parent. I couldn’t help thinking that If I had it my way, I’d do it Angelina Jolie style and take them all home with me. 

Doris gave us some advice when looking for something to buy. She said to be brave but know your limits and to shop at places with integrity that will tell you if a blemish is fixable. Also, hold things up to the light to look for any kind of damage to a garment. 

We started looking through the 20’s and 30‘s dresses, and Lara and I found a few to sample. A lot of the clothing runs small, and many of the 40‘s clothing is super-tiny, as it was custom-tailored to the owner. Extra care should be taken when trying on vintage clothing. Many have side zippers and buttons to make it easier, but watch your ribcage, and never force or tug on anything!  Also, don’t wear foundation. I wore bright red lips to get into the “Mood” so I spent the majority of the time with my lips tucked in to avoid transferring anything onto the dresses I tried.  

Shelly, the sales associate, stayed upstairs with us to help out and answer any questions. This is standard practice (and The Way We Wore has excellent customer service!), so don't feel strange if someone is hovering while you're trying stuff on. They’re there to help you! 

I tried on two gorgeous gowns. Lara found a beautiful mauve-ish taupe dress that fit her like a glove and a gold handbag that said “Diamonds are a girl's best friend.” 

We admired the fit in the full length mirror and comfy chairs they have upstairs. You could definitely spend hours chatting and lounging and trying things on, so make sure you allow plenty of time for a visit. 

And chances are you’ll find something you love, whatever your price range! We spotted sunglasses for $14, and then a beautiful dress from 1918.  I tried a few cloche hats akin to Angelina Jolie’s in The Changeling, but my noggin was just too large. I’m not giving up, though! Someone from that era had to have a head as large as mine. 

I was so thankful for this experience. Doris and her staff made us feel very welcome and were so gracious with their knowledge. Their website, Facebook, and Twitter have tons of information if you want to find out more about the boutique and expand your knowledge of vintage clothing. 

But do try to visit them in person--there's no substitute for walking through the door of The Way We Wore and being blown away by the sheer loveliness of it all. And with a little bit of luck, you’ll find a perfect fit, take it home with you, and then enjoy a night out in vintage style. And, when someone says your dress is fabulous, you can step back and say coyly, “What? This old thing?” And mean it. 

Contact Info:

The Way We Wore
334 South La Brea Avenue 
Los Angeles, CA 90036

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