When tourists think of Los Angeles shopping, Rodeo Drive comes to mind. But to get to the heart of the Los Angeles fashion scene, skip Rodeo and veer to the neighborhoods where celebrities, fashionistas, and everyday folk like to shop.
Larchmont Boulevard, Los Angeles
It's almost stunning to find this quiet, old-fashioned, tree-lined stretch of Larchmont Boulevard between Melrose and Third Street, just around the corner from city hustle and bustle. Many of the best shops in the Larchmont District are independently owned and have thrived for 20 years, thanks to unique merchandise and attentive customer service. Pickett Fences is one of those long-time charmers, carrying trendy women's and men's clothing, baby gifts, and luxury lingerie. Head to Noni Boutique for current brands like J. Brand denim and Pour La Victoire shoes. If you like stationery and pretty accessories, you could spend hours in Landis Gifts and Stationery. At the end of your shopping session, take some wine and appetizers home from Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits and Cheese.
Abbott Kinney Boulevard, Venice
If funky and independent fits you, you will love the "no retail franchise" appeal of the Abbott Kinney Boulevard shopping area of Venice. If eclectic boutiques get your pulse racing, Abbott Kinney is home to two of the greatest in the L.A. area. Firefly offers a mix of one-of-a-kind gifts, clothing, books, home furnishings, bath, and body products. DNA is similar, heavier on men's and women's clothing, with all kinds of nifty gifts -- from pretty bottles of perfume to beaded coin purses. Speaking of scents, Strange Invisible Perfumes will custom mix your own perfume or cologne based on your natural body scent.
Montana Avenue, Santa Monica
This 10-block stretch of Montana Avenue in Santa Monica is where the Westside crowd and celebrities who live on the nearby residential streets have shopped and dined for years. Many well-known designer brands got their start on Montana Avenue. It's home to designer Rachel Ashwell's original Shabby Chic store, which launched the home-design craze of the same name, based on thrift-shop style. Only Hearts carries its well-known Only Hearts lingerie brand, as well as other upscale lingerie and frilly clothing. For a birthday or bridesmaid's gift, head to Moondance, a charming jewelry store that has necklaces, bracelets, and earrings at all price points. For a true taste of California style, head to Planet Blue, which is all about California beach chic for women -- with flowing, gauzy dresses, hats, and accessories.