Frugal Fashionista: The Surplus Store

Remember the saying, "There's something about a guy in uniform"? There must be or designers such as John Galliano and Marc Jacobs wouldn't waste their time creating military style fashions for men or women.

Trends such as pea coats, army colors, and military-influenced boots are seeping their way back into fall and winter trends and so are their inflated prices. This is not uncommon however. Every few years, camo-colored pants or jackets step off of high-fashion runways and into local shops carrying weighty price tags.

Most clothing stores, adding this trend to their stock, only supply those styles for a short period of time and at steeper prices except for one: The Surplus Store. John Edell, owner of The Surplus Store, has brought its customers work and military trends non-stop almost the entire time they have been open; 32 years. Edell states, "We try and carry basics, we don't get into the fashion stuff… Tried and true."

For those people who like brands such as Dickies, Dickies girls, Fruit of the Loom, and Ben Sherman, who are just a few of the culprits of their working-man's section, there is large amounts of stock to chose from.

Instead of army browns and greens filling the racks and posing as various forms of cute blouses or t-shirts they maintain the initial integrity intended for them at inception. Even the high-end designer winter footwear that resembles utility army wear or a workingman's boot doesn't compare to the utilitarian durability of the Surplus' stock.

The store also supplies real military items purchased from wholesale companies, bringing clients army shirts, pants, and jackets for all seasons. Edell maintains that the store doesn't need to compete with fashion's fat price tags or seasonal temperaments.

With the colder temperatures of winter approaching, warmer jackets and winter accessories like gloves, hats, and scarves become more desirable too, but as Reshan Dennis, long time employee of the store, said, "We carry winter items all the time… all year around even in the summer."

One of those great timeless winter pieces is the pea coat, a vintage item which is hard to come-by today, according to Edell due to it's popularity, but The Surplus store carries American and foreign made pea coats at reasonable prices. "It's something we've always carried and always will." Department stores like Nordstrom's or Bloomingdales, even Neiman Marcus, sell these coats, with their stylish touches, for a lot more money.

Though this is just the beginning, pants in blue, black, tan, orange, and denim filled the shelves above from head to toe. Everywhere you turn there are staple clothing apparel to share in your experience. From underwear to bomber jackets and matching boots, there wasn't anything missing but dresses and stockings.

Dennis said about the first time she came in, "Wow! The store has a lot of things," and she wasn't kidding. Wall-to-wall, rack-to-rack, and shelf-to-shelf there is a constant array of stuff. As I looked around me in awe, she even reminded me that I should pick up a "72 hr" emergency earthquake safety kit (includes food rations, blanket, and water packets) if I didn't already own one. Put to shame by a catholic grade-school girl in uniform, who knew what Dennis was referring to, I eventually walked out the door with one.

The Surplus Store 10341 venice blvd. los angeles, CA 90034 (open daily). Be sure to check out the girls Alfa pea coat.