Vintage Clothing Stores in Los Angeles with Mom

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Last week I took a trip out to LA with my husband and son. It happens that my husband has a brother in Santa Monica, and I have a brother in Santa Monica, so it's become a yearly winter escape to the sun for us.

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My mom, who lives in San Francisco, flew down to join us. My daughter wanted to come too, but she couldn't take time off from her job.

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This year, with my novel Astor Place Vintage coming out in June, I decided to take along some advance copies and visit as many vintage clothing stores as I could. Apart from feeling the need to do some self-promotion, I'm always happy to have an excuse to gorge my eyes on some vintage clothes. My mom would be my PR assistant and offer moral support as I introduced myself to shop owners and offered them an advance copy of my novel.

We only had a day and a half in LA before going to Palm Springs to meet up with the guys, who only wanted to gorge their eyes on the greens of a golf course. They would drive the two hour trip into the desert on their own in my brother-in-law's SVU. Mom and I would travel on our own in her rental car.

Since the weather was rather chilly, I was looking forward to lounging by the pool at our motel on Palm Canyon Drive.

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Los Angeles Freeway

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Days Inn Motel in Palm Springs

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But meanwhile, mom and I had a big day ahead of us. Since I only have a general sense of the lay of the land of LA, we made a pact not to fritter away the allotted time on shopping, or we'd never make it to the dozen or so stores spread out all over the city that I'd located online.

First stop: the Santa Monica AAA. I wanted to have someone who actually knew the location of all these addresses map out a route for me.

I had a memory of going to the AAA with my mom when I was little to plan for a driving trip up the coast from San Francisco up to Washington. I could still remember how our trip adviser drew a line up the coast highway with a felt pen on one of their "TripTiks," a map broken down into separate pages like a tall notebook. (Mom remembered it too, and said that triptik might still be in some drawer in the house!)

Of course that was the 20th century version of Mapquesting, but I had no printer and the GPS in the rental was a piece of junk.

historical noveltriptik Vintage Clothing Stores in Los Angeles with Mom

(not our triptik)

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Breakfast with Mom at Googie's

Alas, there was only "one person there who could route trips" and a long line of people waited for her. My nostalgic fantasy quashed, we settled for a regular map handout and headed to our next stop: breakfast at Googie's.

While waiting for my eggs, I attempted to figure out the most efficient way to cover our territory, which spanned Venice to Silver Lake.

Good luck, right? I decided to head East initially, and save the stores to the West for the next day; we'd hit them on the way to Palm Springs.

Our first stop would be The Paper Bag Princess in Beverly Hills.

A vintage store in Beverly Hills? The idea of a shop in one of the richest zip codes selling (let's face it) used clothes (or shall we say "pre-owned") seemed a bit contradictory.

historical novelBeverly Hillbillies Vintage Clothing Stores in Los Angeles with Mom

A vintage clothing store in Beverly Hills?

historical novelPaper Bag Princess Beverly Hills Vintage Clothing Stores in Los Angeles with Mom

But, after being let in the locked front door by a burly security guard, I saw aisles of couture dresses, and gowns covered with protective plastic on racks with signs asking patrons not to touch. It turned out to be exactly what a vintage store in Beverly Hills should be.

Somewhat nervous to be exposing myself, and feeling needy despite the fact that I was offering a free copy of my book, I approached the girl behind the counter and introduced myself. She turned out to be totally sweet and responded with reassuring enthusiasm. The owner of the store, Elizabeth Mason, was busy in the back, but I noticed the familiar cover of her book, Valuable Vintage, displayed on the counter.

historical novelValuable Vintage Cover Vintage Clothing Stores in Los Angeles with Mom

"I've read that book!" I said, without volunteering that it had been courtesy of the New York Public Library. Mom and I took a minute to get lost in the aisles of sumptuous couture clothes that were needless-to-say beyond our price-point even if we had been shopping (or touching).


Before we left, Elizabeth Mason did make an appearance. She told me about her own experiences getting published, and, gracious as she was, I suspected that reading a novel might not be the highest priority on her to-do list, I left glad to have visited her shop since it wouldn't normally be in my purview.

Mom and I returned to the car. Our next step was The Way We Wore on La Brea.

Click here to continue to Part 2