The traditional New Year's baby wearing a top hat and clad in a 1991 banner will have a special meaning for the many Southland couples who will be welcoming a newborn in 1991.
A maternity wardrobe need not cost you a month's mortgage payment, and it won't if you do your shopping at a couple of outlet stores where the quality of the merchandise is high and the prices low. The name of both stores is 2-B-2, but that's as far as the alliance goes; both operate autonomously.
In Studio City, 2-B-2, open only a few months, is a small, comfortable shop with some of the better-known names in maternity wear. Store owner Marcia Hunter purchases factory overruns from such manufacturers as Ninth Moon, Pink & Blue, Edgar, BB Boomers, Oliver Pease, Janet Baldwin and Japanese Weekend, and sells them at just about wholesale plus 10%.
In the back room, you'll find a $10 rack and, obviously, that's where to start. At $10 a garment, it's mostly last season's merchandise, but look at it as buying next season.
So much for the generalities. Some specific prices: J. Edgar blouses for $36 that I have seen at a major San Fernando Valley maternity shop for $79 were a good buy. Jumpsuits that generally sell for $65 were $39. A well-styled outfit with the Edgar label was $33 for the top and $30 for the pants, or just about half the retail price. A smart Pink & Blue for dressy occasions had a lace top and velvet pants and was $74 for both instead of $150.
2-B-2, 11824 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 763-3425. Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.
In West Los Angeles is another 2-B-2 in operation for more than a year. Some of the same labels that are in the Valley store are on the racks (Edgar, BB Boomers, Ninth Moon and Pink & Blue) plus others that owner Madelyn Rothschild asked me not to identify. But you should know that they are definitely high-end manufacturers.
One is known for its drop-waist and high-style jumpers that are shown at pricey boutiques for much more than the 50% to 70% discount on the tags here. This same maker creates a good line of career-oriented styles of jacket dresses and tunic tops that start at half off retail.
Cable-stitched Ninth Moon sweaters with tights to match are popular at discounted prices: $25 to $35 for the sweaters and $32 for the tights (retail $70). The day I visited, I spotted a very dressy ensemble tagged at $80 that I had seen in a display window in Santa Monica for $190, a further indication of the kind of bargains you'll find here.
2-B-2, 2234 Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, (213) 477-4077. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and by appointment.
For those gifts that just don't fit in with your lifestyle and that you can't return, remember the Gift Exchange.
Here's how it works. You bring in that pitcher with the mule's head handle that Aunt Sadie sent and let Gift Exchange owner Lynn Travers set the price.
Let's pretend Lynn says it's worth $100. She will give you a $100 credit. If, by chance, you find another item you covet at an equal price, you pay a 20% service charge plus tax and you've got it. As you can imagine, the scope of the merchandise here is wide, and Lynn will only take quality goods. If you don't find an item you want right away, you can use that credit slip for 90 days and you can get credit updates for another 90 days.
The Gift Exchange, 8828 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 276-1016. Hours: 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Cash, check only.