Cheryl Shops...San Francisco
I love New York and have no plans to leave anytime soon, but if I had to live anywhere else in the country, San Francisco would be at the top of my list. The city has an excellent public transportation system, the weather is ideal, the people are friendly but not vapid (unlike, you know, maybe some other big cities in California), the food is fresh and tasty, and, perhaps best of all, there's excellent shopping. In other words, San Francisco is like New York with nicer people and better weather. Like NYC, there's a little bit of something for everyone, from big department stores clustered around Union Square to smaller, curated boutiques in yuppie-ish neighborhoods like Cow Hollow and the Marina. My favorite part about shopping on the West Coast, however, is the vintage boutiques. I love vintage shopping but find it incredibly frustrating in NYC--with the exception of the cavernous Beacon's Closet, you can expect to shell out $125 for a nondescript '70s sundress at any random boutique to thousands of dollars for, say, a vintage YSL dress from a store like Resurrection. I don't know why vintage shopping in California is so much better, but I'm certainly not going to complain about it.

The best place for vintage in San Francisco is, of course, Haight-Ashbury, birthplace of the hippie movement. La Rosa is the most New Yorky of the stores on Haight Street, because it has both the highest prices and the most curated (and dry-cleaned) selection. There's a messy Goodwill and a Buffalo Exchange--I know many people who find amazing things at this store, but whenever I go in, all I see is past-season H&M and Urban Outfitters merchandise in varying combinations of synthetic fabrics. Aardvarks, which also has locations in L.A., is kind of hit or miss; at first glance all I saw a bunch of gross polyester dresses, but upon further digging, I found some awesome old Gunne Sax dresses from the '70s at very reasonable prices. I feel like Aardvarks has better stuff for guys--Western shirts, cool leather jackets and such. Held Over is quite possibly one of the best vintage stores I've ever been to--every item in the store is precisely categorized, so if you're searching for, say, peasant tops and dirndl skirts, you can go straight to the source without digging through the racks. There were sexy '70s disco dresses, mod '60s minis, delicate super-old vintage dresses and everything in between. Sadly, I didn't find anything I truly wanted to buy, but this will be one of my first stops the next time I'm in town. My favorite vintage store, however, was The Wasteland, where I also had success in L.A. I love Wasteland because they're obviously picky about what they accept on consignment; a good portion of the merchandise is designer, but--get this--it's actually affordable. Sure, more recent items from labels like Prada and Chloe were in the $100-$200 range, but I saw a Sonia Rykiel sweater for $18, a Missoni skirt for $65, and a wonderfully tacky '80s Versace jacket for an insanely low $22 (I noticed the newer items tended to be more expensive; I don't know if Wasteland's buyers have become more savvy about pricing or if things get marked down the longer they're on the racks). I lucked out with a very Mod patent-trim jacket/dress, a yellow '60s Joseph Magnin babydoll dress that fits me perfectly, and, my favorite, a huge Chanel tote for a mere $45. That's right, a Chanel bag for $45. See why I love vintage on the West Coast?

MW's favorite store was Amoeba Records, which may or may not be the largest music store in the country. He spent $150 and an hour and a half there, and I practically had to drag him out. And then he went back two days later. I buy clothes; MW buys media.

My other favorite shopping area was Hayes Street, which kind of felt like the Smith Street of San Francisco. There's a store that sells only sake, a bunch of funky galleries, and small but well-curated boutiques. I didn't buy anything due to time constraints, but there's always next time...

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