The sheer expanse of Los Angeles's urban sprawl can be intimidating for shoppers looking to browse, with neighborhoods spanning from beyond the Hollywood Hills to the Pacific Ocean. Better to be armed with a list of the best LA fashion boutiques for some targeted retail therapy on your next trip. Here, we’ve narrowed down the city’s choices to seven superlative picks.
On Venice’s Main Street, women's clothing store Planet Blue offers up a bohemian blend of beach style and celebrity trends. Tops, such as those by Mink Pink and Shakuhachi, tend towards casual (crochet tanks, denim sleeveless shirts, or floral printed peasant tops) and there’s plenty on offer for under $100. The shop is also a reliable stop for flowing dresses and designer denim by J. Brand, Textile Elizabeth & James, and Current/Elliott.
Expert Tip: Be sure to check out the beauty section: There’s a diverse array of niche, hard-to-find brands with a focus on organic ingredients.
Buy It: Visit ShopPlanetBlue.com. Aside from the Venice location, there are other outposts in Malibu, Beverly Hills, and also Santa Monica, where there is a separate men’s shop.
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This bicoastal outfit is primed for the runway obsessed or those ready to experiment with their wardrobes. For fashionphiles of both genders, the airy 10,000-square-foot West Hollywood space is something like a treasure emporium. (Note to film buffs: it was formerly Charlie Chaplin’s dance studio.) Look for racks filled with duds from fabulous up-and-coming designers from around the globe. For starters, Acne is a fashion-forward Swedish contemporary line, Carven touts a flirty collection from Paris, while Ostwald Helgason, a London-based brand that recently presented a stellar fall 2012 collection at New York Fashion week, is known for unconventional prints and colors.
Expert Tip: Being on the cusp of fashion trends will cost you. Price tags can quickly skyrocket, but there are regular sales to make the register sing a little sweeter.
Buy It: Visit OpeningCeremony.us.
There’s a lot to look at within the walls of this Los Angeles mainstay. For denim lovers, there’s an entire denim wall stocked from floor to ceiling. But founder Mark Werts’ strongest suit is offering something for everyone. Modestly priced tops and shorts in the $50 to $100 range (the Funktional line is a relative bargain) are presented next to investment-worthy pieces such as the $500 tailored blazers by Rag & Bone.
Expert Tip: The men’s department is equally strong.
Buy It: Visit AmRag.com.
The Silverlake neighborhood has emerged as the city’s hotbed for young, creative talent in film, fashion, and beyond. You won’t see the huge chain stores here (well, perhaps a few, but the local population seems to steer clear of the big box retailers). Instead, there are charming outfits like Lake boutique, founded by Melissa Lovoy in February 2007. The mostly contemporary selection is sophisticated yet approachable, as is the service. T-shirts by James Perse sit alongside separates from Isabel Marant Étoile, By Malene Birger, and A.L.C.
Expert Tip: The store also stocks splendid home decor touches like pretty patterned quilts and throw pillows.
Buy It: Visit LakeBoutique.com.
New High Mart
A possibly cooler cousin to Silverlake, Los Feliz is teeming with stylish scenesters. Feeling out-of-date? Stop into New High Mart, where vintage Levi’s denim meets colorful hand-knit socks, funky necklaces by local designers, and huaraches sourced from Mexico and Brazil.
Expert Tip: Price points are refreshingly easy to digest (you can find a good variety of items in the $75 range), but the clothing is often basic. The accessories, such as footwear and jewelry, are the stars of the show.
Buy It: Visit NewHighMart.com.
Not so long ago, if you were looking for celebrity action, you would head to Robertson Boulevard, where the likes of Nicole Richie and Alessandra Ambrosio were regularly spotted perusing the shops and lunching at The Ivy restaurant afterwards. While there’s still much to be said about browsing the pop star-friendly racks at Kitson, savvier shoppers now head to nearby Third Street, where a crop of chic boutiques have made their home. Take Satine: Founded by Jeannie Lee, the store has grown from a city favorite into one with national acclaim. Lee is known for having a wonderful eye; she sifts through the runway collections and stocks the aspirational (Alaia, Balenciaga), cultish (Tsumori Chisato), and affordable (LowLuv by Erin Wasson jewelry and T by Alexander Wang).
Expert Tip: Celebrities keep odd hours, so if you’re looking for Kirsten Dunst or Halle Berry along with your fashion finds, stick to shopping during weekday hours.
Buy It: Visit SatineBoutique.com.
Off Hollywood Boulevard, Scout sees retail through a slightly different lens. Owner Joey Granas is known for finding unique vintage pieces with a softer, more feminine flair—it’s like Anthropologie deluxe. You won’t be seeing thrift store prices, but you also won’t have to dig through any junk. Recently, a Versace studded blazer from the '80s was tagged at $248 and a macramé navy silk top from the '90s was market at $128. There’s also a sublime vintage jewelry selection.
Expert Tip: The store is only open Wednesday through Sunday.
Buy It: Visit ScoutLA.net.
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Photo Credit: courtesy Lake Boutique