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Coffeehouses Brew Up Style

December 01, 1989|DARIO SCARDAPANE | Scardapane, who writes for local and national magazines, regularly contributes to The Times fashion pages. and

Every outing carries its own dress code--bikinis for the beach, black jackets for funerals or nightclubs, and bright plaid pants for the golfing green. But what do you wear to go out for a cup of cappuccino? A new crop of coffeehouses are the city's latest hip hangouts. And people pay as much attention to what they wear there as to what blend of espresso they order. Each of these caffeine havens has a unique fashion grind.

Java on Beverly Boulevard has a look all its own, and that seems to affect patrons' dress style. The decor is a hodgepodge of antiques, overstuffed couches and chairs, put together with modern art.

"The look of this place attracts a more sophisticated crowd," said Dave Erikson, one of Java's three owners.

During the day he has noticed men wearing expensive designer labels. In fact, most daytime regulars belong to the suit-and-tie crowd that stops by for a cappuccino break between appointments.

At night, the look of the crowd changes to upscale neo-bohemian. Carefully scruffed up jeans are de rigueur, often worn with shirts and jackets from Maxfield and other tony boutiques.

Java's main appeal--according to its devotees--lies in its chic sense of comfort. "I've always wanted to drink coffee in a used-furniture store," said Gary Valentine.

For the late-night crowd, one of L.A.'s more popular spots, The Pik Me Up on West 6th Street, has been drawing an off-the-wall variety of types for nearly three years.

"Here it's easy for people to be themselves," said Tawny Featherston, who owns The Pik Me Up with Jerry McKenna. Featherston typifies the coffeehouse's individuality. Sporting short platinum hair and rhinestone-retro eyeglasses, she recently fused fashion and coffee consciousness by opening a boutique at The Pik Me Up. The specialty: "Really wild clothing, the art-to-wear type."

Pik Me Up patrons definitely use clothing to express a snappy sense of style and humor. From be-sweatered grad-student types to an older man's approach--rust-colored suit with a 10-gallon hat--diversity is the key.

The Mad Hatters Espresso Bar is a haven for even younger eccentrics, starting with owners Steve Isaacs and Steve Harris, both in their early 20s. Patrons' choice of clothing mimics the colorful chaos of the place itself--which looks like a hippie den splashed with Day-Glo paint. Tie-dye clothes, peasant shirts and, of course, scruffed, patched blue jeans are the uniform.

Lizards coffeehouse is a homey spot for the theater set. Located in Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard near a wide range of alternative theaters, it draws older artist/intellectuals who come to practice what owner Christian Oie calls, "the lost art of conversation."

Customers wear a look that walks a quiet line between Java's dressy chic and The Pik Me Up's wacky artistry.

Jeans are ever present but this time they're matched with sweaters and sedate jackets befitting the urbane professional whose life-support system is local theater. Compared to other espresso bars, Lizards' clientele seems more concerned with being heard than being seen. It's a showcase for conversation.

Monday nights there are poetry readings which, Oie said, represent the coffeehouse at its finest.

Coffeehouse Directory

JAVA

7286 Beverly Blvd.

West Hollywood

(213) 931-4943

LIZARDS

6545 Santa Monica Blvd.

Hollywood

(213) 962-1889

MAD HATTER'S

ESPRESSO BAR

5819 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles

(213) 935-8541

THE PIK ME UP

5437 W. 6th St.

Los Angeles

(213) 939-9706

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