I first went to Down at Lulu’s as a college freshman living in Berkeley: I was straight from the burbs, and I still thought that venturing outside the safe borders of Telegraph Avenue was a trek worthy of Picard. I would make that effort only for a few places: Lulu’s was one of them.
After a lifetime of shopping at Target, Forever 21, and Wet Seal, stepping into Lulu’s made me feel like a sea-lion at a sushi shop. Beautiful silky dresses, bright pink walls, cool tunes, and funky kicks. A smorgasbord of coolness spread out before me and I ate it up. Well, it’s been a while since I was a college student, and it’s been a while since I came back to visit Down at Lulu’s too: an oversight on my part that I remedied last weekend.
Like a complete bonehead, my first question to Tina (Tina Lucchesi, owner of Lulu’s for 8 years) is “So who’s Lulu?” Instead of brushing me off with a verbal “LMGTFY” she explains that it comes from a bubblegum pop song of the same name by Ohio Express (it sounds a little like THIS.)
I asked Tina what pushes her fashion buttons (in a good way) but I should have just used the sense Goddess gave me and looked around the store instead. I imagine it’s a little bit like the inside of Tina’s head; her brain made architectural, corporeal, and wearable. There’s mod, there’s hippie, there’s silk and satin, sassy t-shirts, glam rock, even a little goth. (And here’s a tip for sellers out there: a Lulu’s-owning little birdie told me if you have any Vivienne Westwood, Betsey Johnson, or Norma Kamali to get rid of, you will be very welcome here!)
What I love about Lulu’s is the mixture of classy/grungy; my wardrobe tends more toward the classically prim ‘n proper, but when I hit the dive bars, I try to blend in with the cooler-than-me, tattooed masses, by wearing frayed skeleton tank tops and dirty Converse. Here, you can find anything from a silk cocktail dress to a trashy-chic Rod Stewart sweatshirt. And the prices are great, too (without even taking into account the DOLLAR SALE coming up later this month! Be there or be sad you missed it.)
Let’s start out by ogling some balls-2-the-wall Pretty with a capital P:
Some kickass plastic boots. They’re not actually Doc Martins but they’re almost cooler than real Docs. How cool would these look with colorful stockings underneath?
And back to pre-1980 vintage:
Ah, rompers: how you vex me! I think you have to carry yourself with a sexy, rakish attitude to pull off what is essentially an outfit for babies. But oh lord, if you’ve got the ‘tude make rompers look good, this is a chic as hell little number.
And since it’s summer, you better be ready with an adorable vintage relic:
This is more of a “lounge on the beach without actually going into the water” kind of bathing suit. For one thing, it’s fucking wool: I’m not gonna make too much fun of olde tymey bathing suit designers since they’re probably all dead by now and where’s the fun in that, but honestly: not the best idea since bread, sliced or otherwise. On the other hand, the fact that it’s cozy wool makes it PERFECT for never-warm-enough Bay Area beaches. You’ll be the snuggliest beach bunny ever.
If you wear that swimsuit to a beach BBQ on the 4th of July (highly recommended) you should really be wearing it under this ribbed delight (oh my!):
It’s oh-so-70s, and I always think about the 70s as being a weirdly patriotic decade. True, the country was divided by protests, societal changes, and those damned hippies, but for one shining moment in 1976, we all came together to buy bicentennial memorabilia in red, white, ‘n blue.
Around that same time, fashionable 20 somethings were wearing minis like this one:
Fun, bold, flattering to just about every body type. As a shorty (by shorty, I mean I barely clear 5 feet, not that I am a fiiiiiine female) I love minidresses. They look practically modest on me.
Before I forget, I shouldn’t neglect to mention that Lulu’s is actually only about HALF a vintage boutique. The other 40% is a hair salon: Tina says that the idea for her was always to combine the store and salon. She’s got 25 years of hair experience, and she has 4 fellow hair wizards to assist in creating fun colors and funky cuts. And if you want a perfect vintage updo, I’d say this is a pretty good place to go.
If you’re saying, “Ok, so what’s the other 10%, Liz?” I give you credit for not only reading to the end of this article and not just skimming for the photos but also for paying attention and understanding basic arithmetic. Ok, smartass, another 7% is music paraphernalia: records, LPs, EPs, pins, and other cool kids stuff:
Showcasing music and albums was always part of the plan: Tina’s original co-owner was Seth Bogart, of Hunx and his Punx fame. Tina herself is currently in the duo Cyclops but over the years she’s had almost more musical projects than I have fingers. And I have a totally normal number of fingers! Tina’s just super busy (she just got back from touring Europe) and super rad, too (but I’m trying to focus on clothes, not fangirl-ing out on Tina. Still, look up The Trashwomen or The Bobbyteens in your spare time.)
2% is charmingly gaudy costume jewelry:
Math isn’t my strongest suit (thanks, SOCIETY! You’re to blame somehow) but I know I’m not quite at 100%. But you know what? I think you’ll just have to go down to Lulu‘s yourself and figure out that magical little 2% by yourself! Just don’t get in my way at the dollar sale or I’ll scratch your eyes out. You’ve been warned.