Buy Curious: January 5, 2007

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You made it through the holidays; now it's time to figure out what to do with the overflow of stuff you've just acquired. Whether you need to find a new home for that tacky Christmas sweater, or say goodbye to that tired old coat of yours, 'tis the season for turnover. This week, Buy Curious evaluates the options for hawking your wardrobe. Plus we checked out hot new spots for denim and home decor in Old Oakland, discovered a unique auction to benefit James Kim's family, and tackled your toughest style nightmares: How to tell your significant other he needs the fashion police. Never fear, Buy Curious to the rescue!

STYLEFILE

Name: Alfonso Dominguez, 29, Oakland Occupation: Co-owner of Drift Spotted: In his new denim store, Drift, in Old Oakland Personal style: "Eclectic urban." Dominguez has a background in architecture, so when it comes to his own style, "everything has to make sense," he says. "Form and function." Items he can't live without: "Denim. Good Italian shoes and a great sports jacket. Really it's about the jeans and the jacket." Fashion inspiration: "Old Italian men. I used to live in Florence and there were sixty-year-old men who looked more fashionable than me." Next purchase: More Japanese raw denim.

Fashion tip: "Give up clothes that don't fit right. People need to experience tailored cuts. Learn about quality fabrics, don't get too stuck on IKEA and H&M." New Year's Resolution: "Dump my old clothes. Learn to move on. New energy." Fashion motto: "Jeans is the new skin."

Check out Drift, which Dominguez started with his fianc�e and owner of home boutique store Mignonne, Johnelle Mancha. Drift specializes in men's and women's denim from lines like J Brand, Joe's Jeans, and the Proportion of Blu. Plus, tees from Oaklandish, amazingly worn-in leather jackets for men (we're jealous!), stylish hats, bags, earrings, and more. While you're at it, head around the corner to Mancha's delightful home-goods store, where you're sure to find hidden treasures, like a restored vintage kitchen table or graphic-print pillows.

WHERE: Drift, 815 Washington St., Oakland, (510) 444-8815

SHOP TALK This week, it's all about making room for the new. Got a Christmas gift that you can't stomach? Have some items tucked away in your closet that you haven't worn in a year? Spring is just around the corner, and stores are clearing out their merchandise for brighter colors and lighter fabrics. Instead of stocking up on winter items from last season, make room for some fresh new inspiration in your wardrobe. Here are some options for a proper spring cleaning:

1) Sell Them: Always an attractive -- yet elusive -- option, selling clothes for money (that can buy more than a cup of coffee) can be a hassle. The traditional options of selling to secondhand stores like Buffalo Exchange (2585 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, (510) 644-9202) and Crossroads Trading Co. (5636 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 420-1952) can leave you wanting more ... much more. If you're not in immediate need for cash, consignment stores like Maribel (3251 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, (510) 419-0677) and Rockridge Rags (5711 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 655-2289) give a higher percentage of the sale price, though they can be quite picky. If you're feeling really motivated, start a blog like ShopMyCloset -- an effective and profitable way to skip the middleman, but it requires quite a bit of effort up front. Your best bet may still be eBay. Hint: avoid hagglers on Craigslist.

2) Donate Them: No money, but you're guaranteed to feel just as good, if not better than getting $5 for the sweater you bought for $100. Plenty of places like Goodwill (1220 Broadway, Oakland (510) 834-6123), Salvation Army (601 Webster St., Oakland, CA (510) 451-4514), and the Alta Bates Showcase (5615 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 653-1527) will be more than happy to take all items off your hands. Plus it's tax-deductible! Just beware of the green boxes !

3) Swap Them: Here's the most fun option: Organize your friends for a clothing swap! Clothing swaps have become extremely popular ways for groups of friends to recycle their clothing. Just gather a half-dozen friends, have them bring any unwanted items (clothes, accessories, even appliances will do), dump them into a big pile, and have at it! The host of the swap is responsible for getting rid of any leftovers. They're also a great excuse to mingle with old friends, and as an icebreaker to make new ones!

Gorgeous Arts & Crafts, Great Cause

An auction to benefit the Kim Family in the aftermath of James Kim's death last month runs through Sunday night (Jan. 7) on eBay. If you've got the bucks (because we know you've got the compassion), you can bid on 49 pieces donated by artists, including stuffed toys, jewelry, paintings, and pottery. All proceeds (bids totaled nearly $10,000 as of Friday morning) will go directly to the family. The auction is the brainchild of San Francisco artist Lisa Congdon and her family; Lisa sells her work in the Kims' lower Haight St. store, Doe , and says that the family has been a huge supporter of the local arts community. It's a great idea�and one that we hope will catch on to benefit families reeling from far-less-publicized tragedies, too.

BUY CLUELESS

Has a shopping or style quandary been eating away at you for months? Mere minutes? Whatever the case, it's time to end your agony. Buy Curious will tackle your fashion dilemmas in Buy Clueless, the East Bay's first online fashion advice column. Advice is free, but following it may require forking over some cash. Send your query to buycurious@eastbayexpress.com.

Dear BC: My boyfriend and I are totally different, bodywise. He's a cute endomorph (meat on his bones, including a really nice butt), and I'm a bony ectomorph. Thing is, from the waist up we're able to wear each other's clothes: One of the benefits of being gay, I guess, apart from being free of the pressure from our folks of having to produce an heir (unless you count adopting from China, but that's for some other column). Anyway, I definitely look better in my boyfriend's clothes than he does. And once he sees me in them, he knows it, too. I can tell by the wistful look he gets when I try on that new Theory shirt he just bought, or the cashmere cardigan from Bloomingdales.

I go through the motions of asking permission if I can wear something of his. But really, we both know that I'm the one who should have them, based on the law of he-who-looks-awesome-in-something-rightfully-owns-it. Here's my question: Should I forget the pretense of asking permission, or should I just move the things that by fashion belong to me over to my side of the closet? And, given that he's pretty much incapable of buying stuff that actually look good on him, should I stage some sort of shopping intervention?

Signed, Closet Co-opter

Dear Buy Clueless, My boyfriend seems to think that menswear is exempt from the laws of fashion! Maybe I am wrong, but please tell me whether it's appropriate for my guy to wear pastel plaids underneath his winter wool suit. I think he's ill informed, and I don't want to see springtime fabulous when it's definitely time for winter wear. Would you please set the record straight about what's acceptable and seasonal, taking into account our mild seasons?

Signed, Mine eyes have seen the Easter Bunny in December

Dear Clothes Snatcher & Bunny Eyes,

Well, it seems apparent that Buy Curious has been focusing far too heavily on women's fashion, what with all of the male fashion faux pas we've been hearing about from precious (if overly critical) readers like you two. Because, you know, we're never critical. Never. Uh, ever.

Moving right along, let's first tackle the quandary from the reader who thinks he deserves to own his boyfriend's clothes simply because they look far more ravishing upon his rangy ecto frame. We're happy to inform you that there's little you can do except (1) stop stealing, (2) buy your own damn designer clothes, and (3) tell your boyfriend every day that you love his incredibly scrumptious toosh. Unless, of course, he's secretly buying these clothes because you won't lay down the cash yourself and he just loves to see you in them. Are you sure that "wistful" look that he gets in his eyes when you pull on his luxe stuff isn't really an "Oh, boy, oh boy! He took the bait again!" kind of look? Also, you haven't convinced us that his clothes look bad on him � just that they look better on you. We'd guess � hell, we'd bet you � that most of our clothes would look better on supermodels. But we do need to leave the house in the morning, and we can't exactly do it naked. So we're not donating them to a supermodel clothing drive.

If you think he really is buying the wrong stuff, then sure, go shopping together. Pick out some stuff that you wouldn't wear in a million years but looks perfect for him, and lavish copious praise upon him when he takes a spin in front of the dressing room mirror. Then you won't be tempted every time you open his closet.

Now, as for the woman who finds her man's passion for pastels less than classy ... well, let's begin by admitting that your juxtaposition of the words "pastel plaids" and "winter wool suit" strikes our ears no more agreeably than chalk screeching down a blackboard. Still, it's hard to say for sure whether your guy is totally off his fashion rocker without a visual representation. Does he look absolutely idiotic when he walks out the door? Or are you solely concerned that he looks as though he's been beamed in from Summerland? (Note to readers: Feel free to send photos to accompany your queries!)

If it's the latter, you may need to give him a break. As long as his suits aren't seersucker or blinding white a la Miami Vice or a heavily textured wool, he can pretty much get away with anything in these climes. (Particularly since Bay Area men seem to have the superhuman power to remain on the verge of sweating even when women sitting four inches away from them are shivering as though affixed to a glacier. Go figure.)

If it's the former � he clashes beyond belief � then by all means start a fire in his closet. But first, be sure he has homeowner's insurance. And if, when replenishing his wardrobe, he decides to skip the wool suit and head directly to pastel-land, send him here.

Our final word on pastels (for today)? There's nothing wrong with a simple, crisp, shirt in a solid pastel shade or a subtle pattern. Most straight guys don't have the guts (or confidence) to try to pull such a shirt off, but if yours can, more power to him! For the record, we prefer a pink button-down. Beneath a suit is just as sexy. And never, ever tuck it into jeans!

Every Friday, Buy Curious posts photos of the fashion fabulous of the East Bay, as well as news on store openings, closings, new items, and sales. We want to hear from you! Tips? Send them to us!and Kathleen Richards

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

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