VALLEY WEEKEND : Write Your Name at the Top of Your Holiday Shopping List : Before buying for others, outfit yourself. Old Pasadena resale shops have prices that may make shoppers merry.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

One technique that some shoppers employ at this time of year is to buy for themselves first--and others second. Once their own holiday apparel is purchased and their table decorated, the gift buying is a cinch. In Old Pasadena, we found a way to put the technique to practical, affordable use. For women's apparel, take a turn on a cobblestone alley off Union Street and you'll find Bailey's Backstreet, a delightful women's resale store that reflects owner Monika Bailey's flair for fashion and decor.

There are many new garments here, many more than at most resale stores, like a black rhinestone-trimmed silk Cristione suit for only $129 (retail $320) or an Ann Klein II three-piece wool suit for only $169 (retail $395).

It's impossible to discern the new from the gently worn; only the price tag gives it away. When you see a $1,700 Giorgio Armani suit tagged at $399, you've got to know it's resale. Or an Escada ensemble (skirt, pants, jacket, belt and scarf) priced at $1,200 from $4,000 tells you it's resale.

Sizes run from 2 to 24, which is unusual for a resale store, where anything over a 14 is a rarity. But Backstreet has petites--David Hayes, Kenzo, Nicole Miller--and also labels for the larger lady--such as John Patrick, Outlander, Tapemeasure, The Forgotten Woman and Ellen Tracy--all at a fraction of the original price. Bailey's Backstreet, 93 E. Union Alley, Pasadena. (818) 449-4101.

Around the corner is Bailey's Men's Resale shop where Armani, Boss, Lauren, Zegna, Richard Tyler and Brione are the norm. A gorgeous Zegna jacket that was $2,200 is now $199 and an entire rack of tuxedos are priced from $99 to $299. Bailey's Men's Resale, 109 E. Union St., Pasadena.

Now that we have dressed up our persons, let's get the holiday table taken care of. Just a short walk away is Pallets of Plates, where we put together a smashing tabletop of a 60-by-120-inch red-and-green plaid tablecloth, eight matching napkins and an entire china service for eight for an astonishing $58. Textiles, pottery and ceramics are selected by owner Mitchell Fisher, who for years was a buyer for a Bullocks china department. For the casual, country look in housewares, you can't beat this place for prices. Pallets of Plates, 21 E. Holly St., Pasadena. (818) 568-3418.

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WEEKEND SUPER SALE: It's worth the drive over the hill to take advantage of the annual holiday sale at Athena International, the warehouse / showroom of an importer of glass and crystal gift ware. Items that will be discontinued in their '96 line are selling at 25% below wholesale or 75% off retail. Pewter-encased perfume bottles that retail for $25 to $35 are priced at $7 to $16. Crystal paperweights ($55 to $150 retail) are $20 to $45. Star prisms--great as ornaments and sun catchers--are only $3.50. Lots of beautiful gifts for under $10. Athena International, 606A Venice Blvd., Venice. (310) 823-0532.

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