I use the same driver every time I fly into JFK. His name is Louis and we met by chance. Before he entered the picture I’d felt a mixture of fear and shame on trips when my car service arrived before my luggage did, as if it was my mother that I was inconveniencing and not someone I was about to pay $60 plus tip. “No problem” Louis replied in his sweet El Salvadorian accent when this happened the first time he picked me up, “you just let me know when you’re ready.” He helped with my bags, gave me a few pointers on my Spanish, and left me with his private number so I could arrange for pick-up back to the airport. I was hooked.
I had a similar feeling of being cared for on my visit to Gratus in Beverly Hills last week. Christine Moon, one of the partners in the store, greeted me with a big smile and immediately offered a diet coke and a gluten-free cookie. Um, yes please! (It was a Thursday, cookie day at the store.)
The store itself feels intimate, like the walk in closet of your stylish best friend. It’s got grass cloth wallpaper, comfy seating, and row after row of chic, well-made garments from brands that nail that cool-girl-with-class look like Calvin Rucker and Marni.
Kristin, the in-house (read: free) stylist recommended a faux fur vest to throw on over Victoria Beckham jeans and a Suno top. If you had previously asked me my opinion on faux fur vests, it would have been an emphatic “God no!” but it’s now my must–have purchase because this particular Harvey Faircloth number came in a delicious sable color that screams Jackie Onassis. The ladies at Gratus keep files of customer purchases to help with future recommendations and they provide services like basic tailoring at no extra cost.
I left the store feeling ecstatic. This is what I imagine shopping was like at the turn of the century, when local shopkeeper payed close attention to your style and your needs. I couldn’t remember the last time shopping—not the purchase but the experience—was as much fun. And besides, if I’m going to pay upwards of $300 for jeans they better come with a cookie.
Gratus is located at 427 N.Canon Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Amelia Champion is an L.A. based actress, writer, and improviser. Her fashion and lifestyle blog Clotheshorse NYC was named one of Lucky Magazine's "20 L.A. Style Blogs to Bookmark Now." Follow her daily on Instagram or Twitter, and use the hashtag #clotheshorsenysee if something sartorial catches your eye.