On a recent fall evening, three young women walk down Beverly Boulevard together toward Jerry's Deli. They're dressed in vertiginous high heels, cut-off frayed denim shorts, sheer peasant blouses and, for the tallest in the group, a floppy brown suede hat. Their outfits might lead an observer to conclude they are on their way to a Malibu beach party. But after they pass the deli's brightly lighted windows, they stop in front of the Beverly nightclub, and within seconds they bypass the crowd huddled around the doorman and claim their places inside.
FOR THE RECORD:
Nightclub dressing: In the Nov. 13 Image section, an article about what chic L.A. wears to nightclubs said the Beverly is in Los Angeles. It is in West Hollywood. —
Los Angeles is home to some of the most exclusive speak-easies and lounges in the world, and even Malibu Barbies have a place to call home. Each venue comes with its own personality and unwritten rules on dress. Style is measured in heel inches, attitude and accessories.
"I think you'll find a mixture of styles at every venue," says Ari Goldberg, chief executive of
, a fashion and beauty website. "But "people end up role-playing. I think people do that naturally."
The tastemakers in the corner booths aren't always famous — they are frequently people like stylist Donna Danon. The 24-year-old says she changes her look based on her mood, but she can play up a certain style based on the night's venue.
"If I go somewhere like Hemingway's, more of like a lounge-y place, I do more of a hipster look because that's the vibe that place gives off," Danon says. "I'll maybe do shorts, a blazer and a cute little hat. If I'm going somewhere like Eden, I'll do something a little sexier like an LBD," or little black dress.
Just in case the subtleties of the L.A. scene seem elusive, what follows is a style guide to some of the city's most fashionable clubs and lounges.
The Cool Kids: The Beverly
When you arrive at the Beverly, an exclusive club open only two nights a week, a tall man with finely trimmed facial hair wearing a suit and a newsboy cap stands guard at the door. Patrons call him L.T., and as head of security (and selection), he ensures that patrons embody a "cool kids" vibe.
There are no guidelines for dress at the Beverly. "It's more about personal style," L.T. says. "It's like a delicate formula we work with. One individual could pull off something that might not work for another."
That "delicate formula" involves a heavy dose of confidence oozing from the clientele, who often seem effortlessly attractive and trendy — but casual — in their dress.
The aforementioned Malibu Barbies blend in with the Beverly's varied clientele — women in shorts and espadrilles, one-shoulder mini-dresses and sequined skirts and frocks.
The men seem to be going for a different look. On a recent evening, a young patron sitting in a private booth that costs hundreds of dollars to reserve for the night orders a bottle of Cristal Champagne — with a price tag of several hundred dollars more. But he isn't dressed in a suit befitting a luxury buy. He wears a Ramones T-shirt, dirty
sneakers and a pair of Burberry boxers peaking out of his slightly saggy jeans.
"Individual and personal style with a particular flair will always stand out," L.T. says. But just because the Beverly doesn't have a dress code doesn't mean it's not selective.
"Anything sparkly, Ed Hardy or Affliction-style graphics, square-toe shoes and sunglasses are definite 'don'ts,'" says Darren Dzienciol, co-owner of the Beverly and Trousdale lounges. "If it's on the 'Jersey Shore' it's not coming through the door."
The Beverly, 8713 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday and Saturday; (310) 855-0202.
Old Hollywood: The Sayers Club
To enter the Sayers Club, patrons must walk through the Papaya King hot dog storefront on Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood. Inside, the space seems to exude old-time Hollywood glamour. Thick theater curtains line the bar, plush leather booths house hushed conversations, and mirrors along the walls offer partial glimpses of patrons.
Men in suits, vests and fedora hats chat at the brick bar with women in modern versions of flapper gowns with dropped waists and sparkling headpieces. Bartenders in suspenders pour stiff drinks while a live band entertains at the center of the lounge. Outside on the back patio, women smoke using cigarette holders.
On a recent Thursday night, a young woman stands and gulps a martini at the bar. She is dressed in a silk navy and white polka-dot jumpsuit, tightly cinched at the waist with a brown braided belt. Her hair is pulled back and her lips are bright red, bringing to mind a young
Farther down the bar, musician and comedian Elijah Rock sips his drink and takes in the crowd. Dressed in slacks, a button-down shirt, vest and fedora, he looks as though he could step onto the set of a 1920s-era film. "Bottega Louie, the Edison, the Sayers Club, all these great classic spots in L.A. remind me of a certain nostalgic character that I really admire," Rock says.
The Sayers Club, 1645 Wilcox Ave., Los Angeles; 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; (323) 871-8233.
Hipsters on the Loose: Hemingway's Lounge
This is a literary bar in the most literal sense of the word, with antique typewriters and shelves of books lining the walls and pillars. The crowd at Hemingway's Lounge is composed of avid vintage shoppers who test the limits of color blocking and accessorizing on a nightly basis.
Young women mingle in high-waisted pants or shorts, arms lined with bangles, shirts adorned with pins. Plenty of heads are topped with hats. Men wear ultra-skinny jeans, Top-Siders or high-top sneakers, wide-brimmed hats and scarves.
"Clothing is one way of determining if one person is worthy of entering our doors, but attitude is the most important," says proprietor Elie Samaha, who characterizes the dress code as "upscale vintage, shabby chic, eclectic, fashion-forward and bohemian."
Crowd standouts on one night include Kelly Love and Geisha Cotan, who visit Hemingway's for a drink after a nearby event. Love wears a pink scarf piled atop her blue hair, a yellow blouse tucked into coral-colored wide-leg trousers and orange shoes. She accessorizes with '80s-style geometric-shaped earrings and bangles. "We are with the kids who run L.A.," Love says. "I dressed for a night out and went for the eclectic vibe." Her friend Cotan wears yellow silk pants with a scarf for a belt, a vintage black bustier and a necklace adorned with black feathers. Her arms, like Love's, are covered in colored bangles.
Shelby Walters wears a sequin-adorned '80s-style boxy jacket with shoulder pads and colored geometric shapes. "I found my jacket thrift-store shopping for vintage designs," she says, adding: "I think it's hard for people to take risks with their fashion, but Hemingway's is really hipster Hollywood."
Hemingway's, 6356 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles; 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday-Sunday; (323) 469-0040.
The Clubber's Clubs: Eden and the Colony
Unlike the Beverly, Hemingway's and Sayers Club, which feel more like lounges, Eden and the Colony are nightclubs in the most traditional sense of the word. Expect a wait in line, a DJ's reliable lineup of top 20 hits and a doorman with a selective eye. Both clubs are typically packed with bodies in motion and amped-up patrons ready for another round of shots.
Inside Eden, quick two-steppers, dirty dancers and amateur go-go girls with glistening bodies slide their hips through the aisles that separate the 19 VIP tables, pausing only briefly to take a sip from their drinks. Women are dressed in teeny-tiny dresses and heels, while the men are in jeans and collared shirts with blazers.
"It's not a shock to people that style is important in this town," says Chanell Oliver, assistant director of night life and VIP services for SBE, a hospitality company that owns hotels, restaurants and night-life venues. Anything super-casual, including shorts or athletic gear, is not permitted, Oliver says. "And those loud graphic printed shirts are a no-no."
Just a couple blocks away, the Colony, another dance club, evidences a different style. Unlike at Eden, the doorman doesn't wear a suit. Instead he sports a leather jacket and ripped jeans to pluck people out of the large line with no apparent rhyme or reason. On one night he admits a group of men, most of them in T-shirts, and two groups of women, one in skin-tight
Leger-esque dresses and the other in denim and espadrilles.
The idea behind the Colony was to re-create the Hamptons for the West, which translates into a distinctly relaxed L.A. dress code. Inside, men in printed T-shirts lounge on hammocks in the center of the venue or replicas of sailboats. A pop-up store inside the club sells Ray-Bans, vintage jewelry and flip-flop sandals.
"L.A. is the only place where you see more people out in a T-shirt and a baseball cap," says Dave Osokow, director of night-life promotions for SBE.
"The days of getting really dressed up in L.A. are over," adds Osokow, dressed in a Phillies hat, jeans and chucks. "The more bummed out you look, the more attention you get. It's the 'Fonzie' thing."
Eden, 1650 Schrader Blvd., Los Angeles; 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; (323) 525-2452. Colony, 1743 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood; 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday; (323) 525-2450.