California here we come! Our guide to 5 of the best places to shop in SoCal, from designer sample sales to vintage finds

Photography by Flickr/davidcjones
Photography by Flickr/davidcjones

Be it a weekend at Coachella, a trek out to Orange County or a desire to live in the Hollywood Hills, it seems like there are endless reasons to head to Southern California. And given just how popular the golden state has become, we thought it was high time for a SoCal shopping guide. Our in-depth research was done during Fashion Week L.A.—or Style Fashion Week, as it’s referred to locally—and we toured the best shopping districts this booming, ready-to-wear region has to offer. From vintage finds to designer sample sales, here are five L.A.-area retail spots you can’t pass up next time you fly south.

Ready to shop? Check out our top 5 picks! »

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Best place for vintage: Shareen Vintage, Spring Street, Los Angeles

L.A. is known for its vintage shopping culture, so it’s hard to pick just one standout store. But don’t be deterred by Shareen’s seemingly remote location; the strict “No Boys Allowed” sign and the option to customize your finds are only a few perks that make the racks upon racks of lace, silk, and satin in this warehouse-style space a retro girl’s goldmine. Organized by era, there’s 1930’s resort wear, ‘50s prom dresses, metallic and brocade fabrics from the ‘70s, and acid wash denim from the ‘90s. And it’s no surprise that curator Shareen Mitchell starred in a reality TV show called Dresscue Me a few years back—she’s got another thriving location in New York. Just look for the red dress blowing in the wind and give yourself several hours to peruse.

Best place for sample sales: The Cooper Store, Downtown Los Angeles

This boutique is situated on the edge of the L.A. Fashion District, which spans 115 blocks of flower and textile markets, fashion and home furnishing studios and vendor alleyways. With the “mother” of showrooms only two blocks away in the Cooper Design Space, this store is a constant accumulation of the best “last-Friday-of-the-month” sample sales—all the time. Find brands like Romeo & Juliet Couture, and L.A.’s Jenny Han and Mona Thalheimer.

Best place to prep for a night out: Kitson, Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood

This 8,000-square-foot shop (and popular online store) sits on a street littered with high-end designer boutiques like Marc Jacobs (although Kitson carries that, too), Marni, Carolina Herrera, and the only Vanessa Bruno shop in the States. So, for a healthy selection of L.A. lines, more affordable price points and fun accessories, Kitson is your haven. Prep for a glam night out in West Hollywood with sequined pieces by God Save L.A., dramatic leathers from Skingraft (a designer we watched on the Vibiana runway at Fashion Week L.A.), and shoes by Jeffrey Campbell. And don’t forget about their huge sale section upstairs.

Best place to shop for music festival attire: Wasteland, Downtown Santa Monica

Music festival season is going strong. If you’re prepping for any one of the hundreds that are happening this summer, Wasteland is the place to do it. This much-adored shop carries old and new boho looks from the likes of Winter Kate and MinkPink, as well as vintage punk-rock band tees and fringe and leather pieces from years gone by. Even without a flower-girl festival to attend, there’s also gently worn high-end designer pieces (one particular Chloé jacket was calling our name). Being a strictly Californian company, celebs have been on the treasure hunt for a while now: Angelina Jolie picked up a $26 black velvet Wasteland dress for a movie premiere back in ’07.

Best place for high-end designer wear: South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, Orange County.

This 45-year-old, privately owned shopping centre nearly abolishes any trace of lazy, relaxed beach style (despite its proximity to Surf City USA and Orange County’s 43-mile coastline with its line-up of 250 luxury stores, including Miu Miu, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Louboutin and Saks Fifth Avenue. With visiting royalty and nine of Forbes’ wealthiest persons in the world making their homes in the O.C., this international shopping destination offers personal stylists and a private champagne lounge for elite shoppers. With all that dime, you’re going to work up an appetite. Indulge in a gourmet bite at AnQi restaurant.