For style hounds, there is nowhere quite like New York (and particularly now, since Spring 2013 fashion week has just wrapped up). But Los Angeles, with its great year-round weather, is a welcome mix of both high fashion and low key California cool. Plus, there is no mad rush for taxis on the streets of the City of Angels. Here's what to pack for a chic getaway, from days spent on the Westside in Venice to nights hitting the city's hottest restaurants in the Hollywood Hills.
Daytime: Venice Beach
Compared to other large metropolises, it's easy to get away from it all while still in Los Angeles proper. Chill out by the beach during the day and soak up the designer-hippie vibe in Venice and Santa Monica. This Mara Hoffman printed blouse ($220) with open back goes well over a bikini or tank top. Despite the year-round sun, locals dabble in fall materials like leather, cut into roomy shorts for a laidback effect ($465). Black buckle booties ($362.10, was $426) with a reasonable height works for all-day activities. And to finish with a touch of Rachel Zoe-vibe, go all out on the accessories: retro, movie-star sunglasses ($17), a horn pendant necklace (by House of Harlow, designed by LA local Nicole Richie, $140), and a floppy felt hat in navy and black ($78).
Nighttime: Hollywood Hills
Put on the glitz at night and hit up a party in the Hollywood Hills. For such an occasion, think Mulholland Drive meets Lauren Conrad of "The Hills." The centerpiece? A little flirty dress with some edge, like this Rebecca Minkoff bustier number ($348). Add metallic, for extra star power, like a mirrored bronze clutch ($595 by Jimmy Choo). Last bits: celebrity-endorsed pieces like black platform heels ($79) by Jessica Simpson and this cheeky camera paparazzi ring by LC Lauren Conrad ($10.50 down from $14).
Daytime: Pacific Palisades
Malibu may get the press, but Pacific Palisades hugs the coastline and is closer to town (which means less time spent in traffic). With a mix of surfers and studio heads, the scene is what you might call low key riche. A fun t-shirt gets the conversation going, like this Mr. California printed tee ($65) available at LA stalwart American Rag. Band of Outsiders is another California-based company. The label's looks are classic but tailored with a modern eye, like these chino shorts with cut-off hem ($109, down from $220). To zone-in on the posh ocean scene, go with sunglasses from a hot brand, like the indie upstart Illesteva ($335), and polished flip flops. South Willard, a cultish LA shop, sells its own leather styles ($118), made in California, which get better with age.
Nighttime: Sunset Boulevard
Teddy's anyone? Get in on the action on Sunset Boulevard, with a cool outfit made for hitting the clubs. A three-pack of American Apparel v-neck t-shirts, a hometown brand, is a great place to start ($51, was $63). Desert weather dips low at night, so it's all about picking a stylish jacket, like this one from Santa Barbara-based label Riviera Club ($360). Denim is also a staple when it comes to Hollywood fashion. For extra flair, try an independent label like these straight slim true blues from Railcar Fine Goods ($198). And finally, the shoes complete the look and this classic suede boot ($295) by bi-coastal boutique Opening Ceremony will work well for cooler days and nights on the town (especially with light-hearted polka dot socks, $12).
What to Do
Abbott-Kinney, Venice's main drag, is the Westside stomping ground for hip, young SoCal residents. Time your trip right and you can stop by the Abbott Kinney Festival, Oct. 7 (10 am to 6 pm). Go hungry and stop at the plethora of food trucks, like CoolHaus for ice cream sandwiches and Lobsta Truck for lobster rolls. If you miss the fest, don't fret; find some of the neighborhood's best and most creative eats (paired with wines you've never tried) at The Tasting Kitchen.
On the other side of town, Silver Lake is the city's other hipster haven, where Intelligentsia Coffee has a perpetually well-dressed line out the door and Cafe Stella serves the best French bistro-fare for miles.
Meet in the middle in buzzy West Hollywood, where organic juice bars sit next to indulgent restaurants and hip clubs. One of the neighborhood's best restaurants is Animal, where you'll find a daily-changing menu of dishes like marrow bone with chimichurri and pig tails "buffalo style" with celery and ranch dressing. Finish the night with a cocktail at the circus-themed Roger Room.
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Photo credits: Women Daytime: Top Left - House of Harlow 1960; Top Center - evesapple.com, inc.; Top Right - gargyle.com; Bottom Right- Net-A-Porter.com; Bottom Center - Eminent, Inc.; Bottom Left - Madewell Inc. Women Nighttime: Far left - rebeccaminkoff.com; Top Right- Jimmy Choo; Bottom Right - Kohl's Illinois, Inc.; Left - endless.com. Men Daytime: Top Left – MRPorter; Bottom Left - South Willard; Center - American Rag Cie; Right - Farfetch.com. Men Nighttime: Top Left - Opening Ceremony; Top Center - American Apparel, Inc.; Right - American Rag Cie; Bottom Center- Riviera Club; Bottom Left- Mortar