Friday, January 24

Cents of Style: Wasteland’s steep prices overshadow eclectic offerings

Columnist Linda Xu models the shirt she purchased at Wasteland, a thrift shop located on Melrose Avenue. (Photo by Kristie-Valerie Hoang/Daily Bruin, photo illustration by LeAnn Woo/Graphics director)

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 money-conscious students on a college budget. Each week, columnist Linda Xu explores different secondhand shops in Los Angeles and discusses her thrifty outfits.

Wasteland defies its desolate name.

The shop’s central location on Melrose Avenue reflects its role as the stylistic middle ground between flashy designer locales such as Marc Jacobs and the edgier, punk stores such as Posers that line the famous street.

The misleading storefront, seemingly constructed out of dilapidated junk, gives way to an expansive interior stuffed with the newest trends worn by the likes of celebrities and fashion bloggers. With such a highly curated selection of clothes, however, comes exceptionally steep prices. For students who can’t afford to spend an entire paycheck on one trip to the store, it’s simply an unrealistic option.

Most consignment stores don’t sell Gucci T-shirts for $100, but Wasteland is not like most consignment stores.

In addition to pieces from ubiquitous brands such as Zara and Topshop, which fall around a high $20 range, Wasteland has a slew of designer goods from names such as Miu Miu and Versace at much higher costs.

The store’s diverse clothing selection is mimicked in the loud music pouring out over its speakers, which sounded like a mellow hipster fighting over an aux cord with a high school DJ. Songs by Drake, Fleet Foxes and Destiny’s Child regularly switched up the mood of the space.

[Read more: Crossroads Trading Co. disappoints with generic options, sterile atmosphere]

The racks are filled with an overwhelming assortment of different microtrends. The shirt section alone contained off-the-shoulder tops, mesh turtlenecks and lace-up bodysuits hung together in a selective mix of recent fashions.

Music festival apparel such as floral bellbottoms and frayed band tees dominated their own area near the front of the shop.

I eyed a group of unchaperoned middle schoolers perusing some gold chain-link bras, making me wonder what occasion could possibly call for such paltry undergarments.

Although Wasteland markets itself as a vintage store, the trendy wares from newer brands would suggest otherwise. But this is not to say that the clothes lacked character.

I tried on everything from ornately embroidered blouses to magenta leather pants. I would have bought half the clothes in the store if not for the obscene price tags attached to them.

One piece in particular, a sleek black jumpsuit, drew me closer into its magnetic field every time I passed it.

I finally conceded, snatched it off the rack, and glided into the changing room with the confidence of a person that would spontaneously drop $200 dollars on a single item of clothing. Fully knowing I had no intention of buying it, I took my time admiring the handsome object in a massive tri-fold mirror before handing it back to the wary sales associate.

Each piece of clothing is an investment, but perhaps the only thing more intimidating than Wasteland’s prices are its patrons.

The store was teeming with beautiful people toting even more beautiful dogs. They pursed their lips and examined racks of high-end jackets and shawls through their designer sunglasses. I nearly bumped into a man who looked like the lovechild of Derek Zoolander and a cologne advertisement; he was modeling a sleeveless hoodie and posing full-on Blue Steel in the mirror.

I felt sheepish. I walked to the checkout counter with only a $15 beige long sleeve shirt after perusing the store for two hours. In my defense, every other elaborate garment I wanted to buy fell way out of my price range.

[Read more: Jet Rag’s $1 sale offers rare deal in a chaotic setting]

I had decided the soft material of the shirt would work well in a cozy outfit to study in the next day. I wore it over an emerald silk camisole and accentuated it with gold jewelry to keep the shirt from being too simple.

Although I couldn’t find an entire outfit at Wasteland without emptying my bank account, I was in need of more simple tops that could pair with the rest of my closet – though I will forever be haunted by memories of the exquisite jumpsuit I had to give up.

Wasteland is a haven for sourcing popular fashions that have come and gone, but expect to leave with a lighter wallet and possible buyer’s remorse.

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