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.
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.