Consignment shopping. It's not quite thrift shopping, but it's not exactly vintage shopping, either. While thrift stores typically sell merchandise that was donated to them and vintage store owners travel far and wide to curate their selection, at consignment stores, you can bring in your old clothes to sell for cash or trade in for store credit. I like to think of consignment as the middle ground between thrift and vintage, as far as secondhand clothing is concerned.
I shop consignment way for three main reasons: I like finding pieces that no one else has, I find it fascinating that previously worn clothing has an entire backstory to it, and it's sustainable. Convinced to shop consignment yet? Good. If you live in the L.A. area or ever have plans to visit, checking out the following spots is a must. Why should you trust me on this, you might be wondering? Because more often than not, this local can be found fully outfitted in secondhand items.
I find it helpful to set an intention before I go shopping at any kind of secondhand store. Call me crazy, but I swear that when I walk into a store and think to myself It would truly be amazing if I found a cool utility jumpsuit today, nine times out of 10 it happens. Sure, there are other consignment stores in L.A. to consider, but these are the spots where I never walk away empty-handed.
Neighborhood: Los Feliz
Expect to find: Authentically worn-in band tees, cool "grandma" sweaters, and a lace floor-length dress you didn't know you needed
There's a special place in my heart reserved for Squaresville. At first glance, its funky selection may appear too eclectic but spend a few minutes flipping through the racks of colorful sweaters and plaid coats and you'll realize that this under-the-radar spot is actually a goldmine. It restocks every single day, which means that every time I go in (which is at least once per week, let's be real), there are always fresh new pieces to delight in. Did I mention the denim selection? You'll walk away with a pair of vintage Wrangler's, Calvin Klein's or Levi's for no more than $30.
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
Expect to find: High-street basics and the occasional great-fitting Levi's
Of the few Buffalo Exchanges around town, I've grown attached to the Santa Monica store. Nestled right along the most charming strip of shops on Main Street, I could spend hours among its racks, trying on 20 items in one go. When I get there, I head straight for the men's denim section. This is my insider secret, as they often have a few pairs of Levi's that tend to fit just like a vintage pair but will only cost me the same as a Postmates lunch order. You'll also find T-shirts, sweaters, and other wardrobe classics from high-street favorites like Zara and Brandy Melville here that won't look like much until you find yourself wearing them on repeat.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
Expect to find: Contemporary designer pieces that are still in great condition
Before you roll your eyes, yes, I'm calling out Crossroads Trading Co. on my hit list of consignment stores in L.A. But for good reason: Each of the chain store's L.A. outposts actually varies considerably, and it's all based on which neighborhood you find it in. There are two in West Hollywood, but I prefer the Santa Monica Blvd location over the overtrodden Melrose location. If you didn't already know, West Hollywood is home to some of the most well-dressed people in the city, many of who bring their older designer goods to Crossroads by the bagful.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
Expect to find: A curated selection of vintage Chanel jewelry, Gucci bags, couture and more
No list of L.A.'s greatest consignment stores would be complete without including Decades. The celebrated boutique is a staple among the city's many secondhand outposts for its incredible selection of vintage designer pieces and beautiful couture dresses you'll want to try on just for the Instagram.
Neighborhood: La Brea
Expect to find: Vintage designer bags, costume jewelry, and selected clothing
Though Recess doesn't boast the largest selection in the city, there are undoubtedly some gems in here. If you're willing to spend a bit of time chatting with the store managers, they'll uncover the truly unique pieces that seem to be hiding in plain sight.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
Expect to find: Modern designers names you'd be shopping for anyway in near-perfect condition
Think of Wasteland like Crossroads but with a higher-end selection of designer pieces. The store tends to be pickier when buying, which means that anything it's putting on a rack is still in excellent condition and has a designer label that's still pretty relevant (not always something consignment stores can say). Like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange, you won't find anything genuinely vintage but instead lightly worn modern pieces.
Neighborhood: Larchmont/Hancock Park
Expect to find: A focus on contemporary designer names and a large collection of dresses and shoes
Ampersand hasn't made too much of a name for itself, and it's not trying to, mostly because you won't find the trend-focused pack here that you'll find shopping at Crossroads. Ampersand focuses on near-mint-condition designer pieces from names ranging from Chloé to Theory. If you need a classic pair of loafers or a nice work dress and are not looking to spend full retail prices, make a stop at Ampersand.
If you can't make it to one of these spots, shop pieces from my favorite online vintage boutiques:
If you live in the L.A. area, you have to make a point of spending an afternoon at each of these consignment stores. I promise you'll be happily surprised by how much you'll love that one unique handbag you find.