Vintage L.A.

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In this day of disposable, cookie-cutter style, the elegance of Hollywood’s golden era has never held more allure. Amy Tara Koch offers the inside scoop on how to experience the storied glamour of Tinseltown.


Sipping cocktails in dimly lit, velvet-trimmed boîtes laden with mid-century crystal chandeliers. Shopping for a Veronica Lake goddess gown (and matching lamé party jacket). Dining in a legendary eatery frequented by film-noir starlets. Welcome to Old Hollywood.

Want to stand out in a crowd? Decades is the chief source of vintage couture and red-carpet gear for celebs like Nicole Kidman, Chloe Sevigny, and J.Lo, hands down. The shop is filled with designs from Ossie Clark, Halston, Stephen Burrows, and Thea Porter. Decades also stocks glam accessories like vintage Hermès Birkin bags and Bottega Veneta weave belts. 8214 1/2 Melrose Avenue (just east of Harper),

This jewel box of a shop offers everything from ’40s swing dresses and ’50s cocktail frocks to slinky Studio 54 knits and Balenciaga pieces. Boasting a couture-stuffed designer shop and a chic ready-to-wear area, the store also excels with reasonably priced accessories and casual, non-designer clothing. Scoop up rhinestone-studded chain belts, strappy ’70s sandals, suede clutches, oversize tribal beads, and Pucci-esque duster coats. 334 South La Brea Avenue,
With the revitalization of downtown L.A., hipsters are discovering old-school gems like the Figueroa Hotel. Originally built in 1925 as a YMCA residence, the property boasts an eclectic California-mission-meets-Casablanca style. The outdoor Veranda bar, a poolside retreat surrounded by exotic foliage and garden statues, is an urban oasis. Have a few cocktails in the lobby while you admire the beamed ceilings, Moroccan lanterns, and Moorish-style tiled floors. 939 Figueroa Street, (213) 627-8971,

Opened in 1937, the Mint is a legendary bar and music venue that has attracted jazz and blues greats like Ray Charles, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ben Harper, and Macy Gray. The vibe is quintessential supper club; wooden bar, Sinatra-era red walls studded with celebrity photos, velvet curtains, leather banquettes, and chandeliers. Though the size of the club was doubled in 1996, the space has not lost its authentic ambience. 6010 Pico Boulevard, (323) 954-9400,

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Featured in flicks like Swingers and That Thing You Do, this restaurant and lounge has been a Hollywood staple since 1934. The decor -- high ceilings, white spiral booths, Venetian chandeliers, and tables that wheel out so that guests can be seated comfortably -- emanates old-school elegance and charm. The reasonably priced menu features classics like escargot, shrimp scampi, roast beef, and a dazzling peach melba. After nine p.m., sip a Grasshopper in the lounge while jazz icons Marty and Elayne take center stage. 1760 North Vermont Avenue, (323) 665-4294,

The clubby, wood-paneled walls and red-leather-and-mahogany booths of Hollywood’s oldest eatery transport diners back to the Golden Age. Here, Charlie Chaplin knocked back martinis. Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald penned novels over filet mignon. Raymond Chandler wrote The Big Sleep in one of the grill’s dimly lit booths. On the menu? Old-school faves like corned beef and cabbage, oyster stew, and chicken potpie. 6667 Hollywood Boulevard, (323) 467-7788

For almost 45 years, Angelenos have beelined toward this Hollywood eatery for classic Italian fare. Bob Dylan, George Clooney, and Drew Barrymore are frequently seen dining on heaping platters of spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna. The best part? Despite its star clientele, it’s as unpretentious as you can get. 9071 Santa Monica Boulevard, (310) 275-9444,

A relic of Jazz Age swank, this Hollywood landmark has been featured in The Italian Job, Get Shorty, The Player, and Strange Days. Built in 1929, complete with brass inlay walnut paneling, French sconces, suede window banquettes, and fireplaces, this hotel has served as home to Howard Hughes, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Errol Flynn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Frank Sinatra. The current lobby and Tower bar was formerly gangster Bugsy Siegel’s apartment. The hotel was recently restored by Jeff Klein in a modern manner, “not a literal interpretation of deco.” 8358 Sunset Boulevard, (323) 654-7100,

As Hollywood was built on film, a great way to channel Old Hollywood is to take in a movie at this legendary single-screen movie theater. Designed by Lewis A. Smith in the 1920s, the Vista boasts Egyptian- style architecture and huge seats. Plus, tickets are offered at prices below the industry average. 4473 Sunset Drive, (323) 660-6639,