Buy Curious: Cheap & Chic in the East Bay

1 comment

This week, Buy Curious ponders the ever elusive problem of how to score cheap, stylish duds. We came up with neighborhood consignment shops (Sophisticated Lady, anyone?), clothing swaps (with drinks!), and Web sites like BudgetDiva. Plus, don't miss some of the weekend's hottest shopping events: from Babes & Babies to an outdoor fashion show hosted by the East Bay Style Collective. TGIF!

SHOP TALK bitten.jacket.190.jpg

Taking a Bite Out of Expensive Fashion A recent Q&A with actress Sarah Jessica Parker about her new clothing line Bitten on Cathy Horyn's blog has touched off a wave of online chatter about celebrities pushing their cheap threads, the difficulty in finding affordable, well-made stylish clothing for plus-sized women, and the ethics of purchasing clothes made by sweatshop labor. Unfortunately, Parker's line of stylish basics isn't sold online, and the closest place for Bay Area folks to buy them is Steve and Barry's in Santa Monica.

Which got me thinking, what are the best places to shop chic and cheap in the East Bay? Certainly there's the usual: Target, Old Navy, Gap, H&M, and Forever21. But often such cheaply-made clothing wears out after a few rotations in the wash. The trick is finding well-made clothes on discount. For that, there's places like Ross, Nordstrom Rack, and TJ Maxx. Online sites like Budget Diva and ShopItToMe also aggregate some of the best deals on the Web. But here are some of my top local picks: sophisticated%20lady.jpg

Sophisticated Lady , 4020 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, CA 94611 (510) 654-1718 As its name implies, this consignment shop caters to the "mature" lady. But occasionally, you'll find grandma dropped off something her niece left behind. I still boast about a delicate crocheted top I scored for $2.

Marshall's, 10794 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530 (510) 527-5668 Quietly my new favorite spot for designer deals. Recently spotted: Ella Moss jersey dresses, Michael Stars tees, and enough shoes to make you go crazy.

Rockridge Rags , 5711 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618 (510) 655-2289 Another consignment shop that caters to an older clientele, Rockridge Rags can admittedly be hit or miss. But occasionally you stumble upon adorable a-line linen skirts for $14.

Maribel, 3251 Lakeshore Ave. Oakland, CA 94610 (510) 419-0677 Though their customer service is questionable and pricing a bit on the high side, Maribel consistently gets its trendy young customers to drop off their last season items for consignment. From shoes to handbags, and a mysterious stream of Diane von Furstenberg dresses and funky Twinkle sweaters, Maribel is the place to go if you need of-the-moment trendy $300 items for $100.

Jeremy's, 2967 College Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705 (510) 849-0701 Enter if you dare. This overstock store stuffs its racks with discounted J. Crew, Anthropologie, and stained, ripped designer apparel from seasons past, which draws flocks of the bargain-hungry. If you feel like engaging in contact sport, check out one of their regular reoccurring weekend sales. Otherwise, weekday mornings are the best times to browse. Need colorful tees and tanks? A demure dress for a wedding? Maybe some khakis for a safari vacation? This is the place to go.

Alcohol + Free Clothing = Bliss? For over a decade, Suzanne Agasi has organized over 120 clothing swaps in the Bay Area and NYC. In case you're not familiar, clothing swaps are events where women bring their unwanted clothes and accessories and swap them in a free-for-all. (Check out this YouTube video of one of her events hosted at Willie Mays Skybox Lounge in Emeryville. I started going to clothing swaps organized by some friends eons ago, and have scored some of my best finds ever there). Agasi's events are far more organized. It's not entirely free (there's a door price), but once inside, shoppers can take what they want. Best of all, leftovers are donated to shelters and charity organizations. They've got two East Bay events coming up. Check out the YouTube video to get a sense of the scene. For more information, click here. When: Tues., June 26th, 7-11 p.m. Where: Pear Street Bistro, 2395 San Pablo Ave., Pinole How much it'll cost you: $35 in advance, $45 at the door. $25 from every ticket will be donated directly to SF AIDS WALK. Shopping Events & Sales

** East Bay Style Collective Charity Fashion Show West Berkeley hotspots (Twisters Vintage, Magnet, Dolled Up, Icon Vintage, and Herringbone team up for another fabulous outdoor fashion show! When: Sat., June 23, 8 p.m. Where: 2424 and 2530 San Pablo Avenue How much it'll cost you: Minimum donation of $10 toward A Home Within, which benefits foster kids. ** Babes & Babies: From the folks of Appel & Frank comes a shopping event specifically for the fashion-inclined mom and mom-to-be. When: Sat., June 23, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Where: Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St. at Presidio, San Francisco How much it'll cost you: $10 ** Still Goin' Strong: Twenty Two Shoes really wants you to wear their Italian-made goods! All Summer/Spring styles now 30 percent off. Where: 5856 College Ave., Oakland, CA (510) 594-2201 vintageruffle2.jpg We Scour the Web So You Don't Have To: Here's what other local style/shopping bloggers are buzzing about: DailyCandy: Gerard Tully animal head rings at August in Oakland. Dressed: Exploring shopping choices in Austin. OaklandGoods: Studio One returns home. TopButton: Dylan boutique half-off sale, special offer with "personal image consulting" company. ShopMyCloset: Pick up a frilly DIY frock for $32. Every Friday, Buy Curious dishes on the hottest fashion trends, news, and sales in the East Bay and beyond. If you've got suggestions for shops or Web site to feature, comments on the blog, or a burning style question you'd like us to answer in our occasional column, Buy Clueless, send them our way! Write Kathleen and Lauren at BuyCurious[at]EastBayExpress[dot]com