Denise Kiernan is a journalist and author whose work and travels have taken her from the undulating and stiletto-crippling cobblestoned streets of Rome to the soccer stadiums of Central America and the Great Wall of China. Most recently, she dove headlong into the lives, formerly classified documents and vintage photo collections of the Manhattan Project for her latest book, the New York Times Bestseller, “The Girls of Atomic City.” There she found secrets—and 1940s’ styles—to highlight her history.
Even if you’ve never found yourself dressing for success as you worked on a wartime, top-secret government project, you can still dress the part of a World War II—or Atomic Age—era gal.
Los Angeles is a mecca for midcentury design – and that goes for clothes as well as architecture and design. In LA, there are more vintage shops than you can shake a Geiger counter at, and no matter your style (Rosie the Riveter? Andrews Sister? Victory Gardener? Atomic Cocktail Partier?) you can find just the right threads for any occasion. Whether you’re amping up the glamour for a costume party or taming those pin curls for a lecture on nuclear fission. “The Girls of Atomic City” author Denise Kiernan offers up some shopping spots where yesterday’s duds are today’s fashionista delights.
Ragg Mopp Vintage
3816 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
This vintage haunt has graced the Silverlake ‘hood since 1998 and boasts a selection of clothes and accessories that have found their way into the pages of many a fashion mag and into the closets of vintage-happy designers and celebs alike. Strolling their aisles for clothes or jewelry you may find yourself in a wrestling match with Courtney Love or Scarlett Johansson over the perfect 1940s peplum frock. Ragg Mopp also buys vintage clothes, hats, purses, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. But seriously–how hard can it be to find a reason to wear that 1950s silk kimono?
It’s a Wrap!
1164 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 246-WRAP (9727)
3315 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
From the back lot to the front of your closet. Many vintage shops supply outfits for television and film, but this gem of a store does the opposite: brings those clothes from Hollywood to you, once the studios are done with them. It’s a Wrap carries not only wardrobe but also props from television shows and feature films. Though not exclusively vintage, there is plenty for those seeking clothes with a bit of Tinsel Town history. Western wear? Check. Soap opera slinky? Yup. Sure, that Diane von Furstenberg Sequined Gown from 90210 might cost you a pretty penny, but some low-cost items can be snagged as well. Sign up for the preferred customer list or register on their website to get updates about special sales on the studio lots themselves.
1721 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
No boys are allowed at Shareen Mitchell’s original shop on Spring Street, but plenty of women find their way there, including Mad Men costumer Janie Bryant. (Now you know where to find your very own drool-worthy, curve-hugging, Joan Harris-esque pencil skirts!) Mitchell’s sought after vintage tastes eventually landed her a second shop in New York City’s Union Square neighborhood and have also inspired a new-ish boutique at 8377 West 3rd Street in Los Angeles where the stylist showcases her new clothing line, Shareen. Her downtown location is custom-designed for glam girls who can’t make up their minds. Couches! Beds! Mirrors! Snacks! You may never want to leave. And as for those shoppers hampered by a Y-chromosome? Just contact the store to find out a time when it’s okay for you to stop by.
The Way We Wore
334 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
For three decades, vintage fashion maven Doris Raymond has been sharing her most remarkable finds with customers who flock to her LaBrea Avenue store. Her knowledge and reputation—not to mention her multi-million dollar collection of vintage goodies—have landed her on the Smithsonian Channel as the star of LA Frock Stars, where she showcases her talents for hunting down high-end vintage finds. If you’re lucky enough to be in the clothes biz, you can opt for appointment-only visit to Raymond’s resource library and take a gander at some of her private collection. Though the shop is know to have supplied vintage threads for shows like Boardwalk Empire and film epics such as Titanic, the doors are open to the rest of us as well. Can’t make it to LA? Sit down, tune in, and indulge in some vicarious armchair shopping.
834 South Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014
The store the Los Angeles Times called a “full-service time machine” offers a head to toe vintage experience, from slips to cigarette cases and flasks to flapper wear. Shop online by decade or by style, or stop by for a full revamping—makeup and hair included. So the next time you’re seeking some advice on how to complete that vintage look, or if you find that your 40s up-do is looking a bit more like an “up-don’t”, ReVamp has you covered. Register for a class at the ReVamp Salon and tame those tresses.
Denise Kiernan’s book “The Girls of Atomic City” was published in March 2013 by sister company Simon & Schuster.