Sunday, August 18

Cents of Style: A trip to Out of the Closet yields cheap but limited finds

(Esmeralda Lopez/Daily Bruin)

(Esmeralda Lopez/Daily Bruin)

Wedged in between Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, UCLA students have no shortage of places to shop for clothes. However, high price tags can limit shopping options for students on a college budget. Each week, columnist Linda Xu explores different secondhand shops in Los Angeles and discusses her thrifty outfits.

Out of the Closet carries a tame selection of clothes despite the thrift shop’s cheeky name and blindingly pink walls.

Located on Sunset Boulevard and owned by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Out of the Closet offers free HIV testing in a private office and free condoms at its checkout counter, in addition to selling secondhand clothing and homeware such as vases and old vinyl records. The low prices and simple garments reminded me of a Goodwill, but with far fewer options and somehow more outmoded music.

Word of warning: Out of the Closet has two locations very close to each other. Do not go to the one in West Hollywood unless you are interested in purchasing antique wooden furniture or a collection of nature sound CDs, since it does not sell any clothing. Learn from my mistake.

If you find yourself in a crumbling parking lot between a gaudy car wash and a lurid purplish-pink storefront, you’re in the right place.

The interior of the shop was very straightforward. Men’s and women’s clothes were separated and hung neatly on circular racks with a large amount of open walking room that should have been replaced with more clothing to fill the emptiness of the space.

Much like an actual Goodwill, different colored price tags correlated with different discounts – blue tag items were 50 percent off and orange tag items were all priced at $1. The prices were comparable to the giant thrift store chain as well. Most pieces hovered around $5, and I didn’t see any clothing sold for over $10, even before any discounts.

The choices for shirts and pants were pretty underwhelming. I looked through every T-shirt in the shop, which was not many, and managed to find mostly plain, jersey tops in unappealing colors, such as eggplant and striped beige, that I would skip at any other store.

However, I managed to find a few unbelievably good deals in the dress rack. I was surprised to find designer pieces from brands such as Theory and Nanette Lepore that were still in pristine condition, donated by some charitable and stylish people. I tried on every label I recognized.

The dressing rooms consisted of tiny cubicles concealed by curtains that hung just a little too high off the ground. As I disrobed and crouched down to set my clothes on the floor, I realized too late that I had just flashed an entire store of people to the thumping beat of a Eurythmics song.

A good rule of thumb for private areas like changing rooms and bathrooms stalls is that people should not be able to see my knees when I’m standing up. Out of the Closet clearly failed the test.

My final purchase consisted of two floor-length maxi dresses – a nude DKNY number for $6.50 as well as a more formal bluish-black dress from Ron Herman for $5.50. After Googling, I realized Ron Herman is the name of the bougie, ivy-covered store on Melrose Avenue I always pass by but never enter. My total came to $12, a mere fraction of what I would have paid for the two garments at retail price.

Out of the Closet tries to be a Goodwill, but falls short with a limited number of clothes and an overall bland selection. Nevertheless, the shop does get brownie points for its charitable platform of HIV awareness, reasonable prices and a decent number of designer finds.

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Xu is a senior staff reporter for the Arts and Entertainment section. She was previously the assistant editor for the Lifestyle beat of Arts.

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