The New Bougehemians
by Tess Lynch
Unemployed and drinking out of an Elmhurst Prom ’66 goblet.
I tried very hard to spend no money for the past year or so. I tried almost as hard to not spend money as I did not to make it; I quit my day jobs (assorted, one at a time — baby, plz, I’m lazy) and decided to try to be a full-time actress/writer. It was a good thing, in that I audition a lot (PLEASE, BY ME TYPING THAT, LET ME NOT JINX EVERYTHING) and usually in the middle of the day, and don’t know how I could ever manage that noble schedule of getting up at 6, writing for two hours, showering, going to auditions, getting home, vomiting from despair, and then setting off to waitress or bartend (they say people do this. These people obviously abuse Red Bull). I mean, I waitressed in college and I know how hard it is (people say auditioning is demoralizing — those people have never worked at the Seekonk TGI Friday’s). I’m dippin’ into the savings and going balls-out.
“Paradise By The Dashboard Light” — Meat Loaf (mp3)
“Raspberry Beret” — Prince (mp3)
The way I had been saving money (which worked, by the way, if you’re into saving money, which everybody is) was: never eat out, shop at Trader Joe‘s a ton, never go out (but rather drink Tito’s endlessly at home), and buy clothes when necessary at Forever 21. There are wiser ways not to spend money (omit the Forever 21, for instance), but I’ll be frank: one of the Universe’s Top Ten Riddles is that, when you’re not making any money, you are compelled more than ever to buy things. Even if it’s, like, $20 of Wet N’ Wild makeup from CVS.
The secret they don’t want you to know: vintage clothes aren’t cheap anymore. Even the yuppies preserved our nation’s thrift stores from becoming popular.
Do you remember when, 7 or 8 years ago, you’d go into a vintage store and all the t-shirts were $9-15? And the cute little sundresses were all under $30? How easy it was, then, to buy happiness in the form of ill-fitting corduroys and t-shirts from someone else’s dad’s birthday. I noticed that this was no longer the case during my second year of college, when I went to Andy’s Chee-Pee’s and saw some spangly $80 sweatshirts on the walls. Fucking hipsters!! I just wanted to buy a lot of t-shirts! I hate you! That’s when I switched to Forever 21, which, as luck would have it, had one of its many hubs in Providence — specifically, in the mall right above where I worked. Dope.
“Oh, Sweet Nothin” — The Velvet Underground (mp3)
“Charlemagne In Sweatpants” — The Hold Steady (mp3)
When one is addicted to McDonald’s (I hear), one feels “depressed…[and] like a horrible person to be around most of the time.” When one is addicted to $3 plastic earrings, they are cuter, but suffer from equally empty-feelings. I have a wicker thing (wicker, another mistake) that’s literally filled with post-less earrings, homeless bra straps and pieces of a t-shirt that dissolved in the wash along with a rug of shaggy, Ikean origin. I keep these things as a reminder: just like with McDonalds, buying a bunch of badly-made cheap clothes (even though they’re so cute, SO CUTE!), you are never full. You must always get more.
I still think the McDonald’s #1 is the best; it also earns you a lot of Monopoly pieces.
One still-expensive-but-used-t0-be-so-much-more-expensive shoe, but not when it’s also a hat.
So, having given up on buying tons of cheap stuff (instead, trying temperance, like the Protestants — except not with Tito’s and cheap wine and cigarettes — things that go into your body and are not food don’t count) I’ve decided to list some of my favorite places in L.A. to live bougie but still dream boho. Part one, below.
A Valentino gown at The Way We Wore
334 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036
The Way We Wore is the Barney’s of vintage clothes — I’m too scared to go into Decades/Decades Two, because I feel like I would be under-dressed, and The Way We Wore is comfortable and approachable. They’ve got some killer belts in the $30-60 range, beautiful cashmere cardigans, and a really great shoe collection (the shoe-hat, above, is a never-been-worn Manolo Blahnik that was marked down over 60%), but their specialty is dresses. They’re all in surprisingly good condition, and organized so that it’s easy to browse; all the pieces, especially if you have something fancy-pants planned, are the kinds of things you flick through in your closet and think about spending extra money on a garment bag to protect. But you won’t, because you’re broke, so instead you’re just very careful not to spill your $2 red wine on it.
7428 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Shopping at Wasteland is not always pleasant, but they have one of the better rates for buy-backs (40% of the estimated value of your clothes in store credit) of all the vintage and contemporary stuff you never wear, so you can essentially trade your old clothes for new. Wasteland, I’ve found, is best when you need a great pair of designer jeans (Se7en, True Religion, James, etc) or a really great handbag. Skip the jewelery and t-shirts and head for the cases, where they keep the best shoes and purses.
Various locations throughout L.A.
Versailles is the best Cuban food ever. It’s cheap, it’s huge, it’s fabulous, and you can chill there forever with imported beer and a mountain of pork. I’m sure it’s terrible for you, but I don’t want to know. It’s also an acceptable place to bring people, but not people you wouldn’t want to judge you if you walked around smelling of garlic for the rest of the night (or the rest of your life).
11740 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, 90049
La Scala Presto is the more laid-back cousin of the La Scala in Beverly Hills, but it’s still a little pricey. This is why you have a picnic: order your Leon Chopped Salad (plus turkey and tomato) to go, and share it with someone who’s also following my bougie advice in Holmby Park. It’ll end up being only slightly more than a Subway sandwich apiece, and they give you lots of great crusty bread, butter, and extra dressing because they know the rent is due tomorrow.
2375 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
You’ve probably been to the Cha Cha, but I wonder if you’ve ventured there for happy hour for their bloody marys. It is truly the most economical-yet-satisfying imbibing experience ever. I don’t know why they’re so fucking good (pickle juice? Sometimes people use pickle juice?), and I’m sure it depends on your bartender, but I lost my wallet one day at the Cha Cha and went back as soon as they opened (bingo! Happy hour!) and those drinks really numbed my pain. For real.
Tess Lynch takes requests at tess dot lynch at gmail dot com.
MY FAVORITE MOLLY IS LAB-COAT MOLLY