Few shopping experiences are more depressing than a sale at a second-hand designer clothing store. I went to the sale at The Address, in Santa Monica, in response to the tempting postcard they sent me, describing price reductions of up to 75%. The storefront resembles a miniature Roman Colosseum, with banners proclaiming classic high-end designer brands. Gucci! Prada! Chanel! Versace! Fendi! Inside it’s a cluttered mess, filled with racks of clothes that get progressively more expensive as you work your way toward the closet-like rear of the store.
The sale had been in progress for five hours when I arrived. An exhausted woman was slumped on a small couch, next to a sad half-empty platter of complementary cookies. An elderly couple tried without success to explain to each other some problem regarding a pantsuit on a rack marked “$30 and under!?” None of the three salespersons took notice of me, busy as they were cooing at a customer modeling an awful jacket back in the communal dressing area.
I looked through a rack of jeans, impressed by the many outmoded styles and ridiculously high prices. I did see a noteworthy pair of jeans with purple fur appliques on the widely flared bottoms, but I was too shaken to look at the pricetag. Next, I tried sweaters and shirts, finding a collection I would pass right by in a thrift shop. Likewise a shelf of tired handbags, including two fake Chanels and a beat-up alligator bag priced at $125 and marked “Vintage?”.
With bated breath, I approached a rack of purported Chanel suits. Most were huge but there was a garish red plaid from the 70s or 80s in my size. Luckily, the jacket was much too long for my taste, and the price was a fearsome $690. The evening-wear was mildly interesting in its eclectic array of styles, most suited to a showgirl or prostitute with a penchant for black. The decadent snake-skin pantsuit by Fendi , however, was priced at $2,100 and worth every penny.
As I began to accept that the party was over ( for me, anyway,) I steered away from a pair of half-undressed Asian girls chattering in irritable tones, and found myself mesmerized by a short muscular woman preening in front of a mirror. She seemed to be evaluating a huge gold chain belt that did nothing to help her skintight, psychedelic mini-dress, which she had chosen to accent with painful looking stiletto heeled shoes. I was annoyed to notice that she had managed to find a nice handbag, which she now inspected. Her hard, tanned features displayed doubt. Oh goody, I thought, maybe she’ll put it back on the shelf. Instead, she presented it to a salesclerk and lied: “I thought this was a Dooney and Burke, but now I see it says Dior. Do you think it’s really Dior? I’ve never seen this style”. Of course she assumed it was a genuine Dior, but hoped to get away with paying less. I fought the urge to intervene, and walked out into the blazing sun.
To sum up, I’ve learned that it’s far more rewarding to look for affordable designer clothing on ebay, or even Marshalls, than to waste your time at The Address, located at 1116 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica, and on the net at http://theaddressboutique.com/.