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Insider's LA Shopping Tour

Whether you like shopping at malls, boutique-filled neighborhoods, or with a personal stylist, it doesn't get much better than Los Angeles.


Courtesy of StyleChic and the Ritz Carlton, Los Angeles.

There’s something for everyone in Los Angeles, especially when it comes to shopping. Tourists flock to Rodeo Drive and the Beverly Center, missing out on a goldmine of nearby options. West Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood host an array of boutiques, all clustered within blocks of each other. Even Downtown has its own fashion identity as the merchandising center of the West Coast, with showrooms hosting sample sales where designs can be swept up at a fraction of the price. Those with deeper pockets and less patience can opt for shopping with a personal stylist, and we know exactly who to call. Here’s your roundup for your next Los Angeles shopping adventure:

Sample Sales

Downtown isn’t known for fancy malls and luxury boutiques, but it is known for fashion. This is the heart of the West Coast's fashion industry, including manufacturing and trading. Browse a sea of kiosks at the Jewelry District or, better yet, hit up one of the many sample sales in the Fashion District, taking place in showrooms that are otherwise closed to the public.

There are three main buildings with designer showrooms in Los Angeles: the California Market Center, The New Mart, and the Cooper Design Space. From local indie labels to global design houses, showrooms present the latest merchandise to fashion industry insiders and visitors alike. The California Market and New Mart host sample sales for the public once per month, with upcoming sales on Friday, April 29 at both. The New Mart website lists participating designers like Calvin Klein, Nautica, and Frankie B, plus an array of popular, independent labels. Multiple showrooms participate, each offering deep discounts. Sample sales at the Cooper Design Space are easier to come by and span several days, but only feature one showroom at a time, and are announced regularly on their blog.

Beware, there are tradeoffs with sample sales: Sizes are limited, so if you’re not a size 4 or 6, you might have slim pickings. Also, be prepared to dig, BYOB (bring your own bag), and don’t bother coming without cash.

California Market Center, 110 East 9th Street, Los Angeles, californiamarketcenter.com; The New Mart, 127 East 9th Street, newmart.net; Cooper Design Space, 860 South Los Angeles Street, cooperdesignspace.com.

Malls and Boutique Streets

If you’d rather skip wholesale, take a quick drive from Downtown to the crossroads of West Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood, where malls, boutiques, high-end restaurants, and celebrities unite.

Courtesy of The GroveSkip Rodeo Drive and the Beverly Center for The Grove, an outdoor shopping center adjacent to Pan Pacific Park and the historic Los Angeles Farmer’s Market. Nordstrom anchors the property and has its own Jimmy Choo and Stella McCartney boutiques inside the store, competing with the nearby Barney’s New York Co-Op. Ride the free double decker trolley between shops, and watch the hourly dancing fountain designed by WET, the builders of the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. The Grove is often the backdrop for television shows, including this season’s filming of Extra, shot Monday through Friday between 9am and 2pm, complete with a live concert and celebrity sightings.

Speaking of celebs, keep Robertson Boulevard on your radar, home to paparazzi-favorite The Ivy, a restaurant and celebrity-favorite with an outdoor patio facing the street, giving photographers and tourists their perfect shot. Nearby Kitson boutique has grown so popular among the celebrity crowd that it keeps multiplying, with Kitson, Kitson Men, Kitson Kids, and Kitson Studio all within blocks of each other. Sprinkled in between are other local favorites, including Tory Burch and Madison.

But before you hit Robertson, you’ll want to stop at 3rd Street, where boutiques like Milk and Satine are making their mark with the A-List crowd, offering a selection of luxury brands and independent designers for the perfectly-styled fashionista. Drool over ready-to-wear goodies from designers like Rag & Bone, Brian Reyes, and Vena Cava at Milk, or get your hands on Lanvin, Victor & Rolf, and Alexander Wang at Satine.

After you’ve conquered 3rd Street and Robertson Boulevard (if you can make it that far), try not to miss Opening Ceremony, a boutique based out of New York, that occupies Charlie Chaplin’s former dance studio space—all 10,000 square feet of it. Shop the downstairs boutique or the upstairs “Mini-Mall” featuring individual retail spaces for participating designers, such as Topshop and Band of Outsiders.

Courtesy of Opening CeremonyIf it’s time to freshen up that tattoo or get a new piercing, turn around the corner to Melrose Avenue, where vintage stores, hipster boutiques, and tattoo shops collide to create a vibe reminiscent of San Francisco's Haight Street. Sip on a milkshake at the original Johnny Rockets long enough, and you might spot Jay Leno taking on-street interviews. Make a quick stop at the ivy-coated Fred Segal store, a trendy, yet upscale jeans boutique that’s been around since the 1960s.

The Grove, 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, (323) 900-8080, thegrovela.com; The Ivy, 113 N Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 274-8303, theivyla.com; Kitson, various locations on Robertson Blvd., kitson.com; Satine, 8134 W 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 655-2142, satineboutique.com; Milk, 8209 West 3rd St., West Hollywood, (323) 951-0330, shopatmilk.com; Opening Ceremony, 451 North La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 652-1120, openingceremony.us.

Expert Shopping

Prefer a second opinion and a personal driver? Have celebrity stylist Aly Scott pick you up for an insider’s shopping adventure around the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Aly will take you off-the-radar to more coveted destinations with unique treasures, offering personalized style tips every step of the way. In an afternoon, we were whisked through a hidden boutique that could only be accessed through another store, and buzzed through the gates of Roseark, an appointment-only jewelry store in West Hollywood, where clients sip bubbly while browsing artisan designs.

Our shopping tour ended with a stop at The Way We Wore, a vintage store with an “inspiration resource library,” where the world’s fashion designers draw ideas for upcoming collections. Such hidden treasures are becoming increasingly popular among celebrities who want unique looks, and Aly knows exactly where to find them and how to put them together. Plus, she's a kick to hang out with.

Expert Tip: Always emphasize your waist, even if it isn't in perfect shape. Wearing a boxy top without a belt will widen it, rather than hide it.
Closet Must-Haves: Aly insists that everyone buy a pair of gray jeans, and that leather jackets are all the rage in LA these days.

Aly Scott, StyleChic, stylechicla.com; Roseark, 1111 North Crescent Heights Blvd. (by appointment only, walk-in store at 1111 Montana Ave., Santa Monica), (323) 822-3600, roseark.com, The Way We Wore, 334 South La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 937-0878, thewaywewore.com.

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