This may be the athleisure capital of the world, but there are times when you just need a showstopping dress to see you through a big awards ceremony (or, you know, your first holiday at the in-laws’ house). Fortunately, independent shops all over town have great options, whether you’re seeking a status dress, a trendy look, something super-comfy but cute… you name it. So skip frantically searching online—just stop in at one of these boutiques and have a savvy staffer help you get dressed.
These L.A. Boutiques Have the Best Special-Occasion Dresses
1. Nonna (highland Park)
Best for: A sexy look for an evening affair (like date night or the Oscars)
At Nonna boutique in Highland Park, former film and TV stylist and costume designer Olivia Lucia Perez curates elegant separates, accessories and dresses. (The shoes by Maryam Nassir Zadeh are worth the trip alone.) This emerald silk dress ($695) by New York label Zepherina has long adjustable bows, slits on each side and a high front neckline that’s just begging to be set off with some major bling.
6187 N. Figueroa St.; 323-274-4605 or shopnonna.com
2. Ganni (west Hollywood)
Best for: Dressing for a luncheon where you want to be noticed (like your BFF’s birthday party or the Independent Spirit Awards)
Copenhagen-based brand Ganni is *the* label of the moment, feted in fashion blogs and possessor of its own #gannigirls hashtag. That’s shorthand for free-spirited, easy-to-wear and flattering-but-not-sleazy style. On October 25, the label is opening a West Coast boutique of its very own. We see this swingy checked dress ($295) as being just the sort of standout piece you’ll look and feel great in.
9004 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; ganni.us
3. Aquelarre (culver City)
Best for: When you want to look edgy as hell (for an art opening or the Grammys)
Culver City boutique Aquelarre has a large selection of cooler-than-cool prairie dresses by New York–based designer Batsheva. The designs are inspired by Laura Ashley, Hasidim and Courtney Love’s ’90s “kinderwhore” look, and this autumnal grape-leaf number ($475), worn here by rocker Bat for Lashes, would work with platform Dr. Martens boots or, to show you’re in management, pricey ones from Gucci.
8840 Washington Blvd. #103, Culver City; 310-770-8231 or aquelarreshop.com
4. Capitol (brentwood)
Best for: Your next gathering of fashion bitches (like the Costume Designers Guild Awards or a party for the meanest carpool mom)
You’ll feel super-confident in anything from Capitol Brentwood, the new West Coast iteration of the esteemed Charlotte, North Carolina, boutique run by gorgeous woman of impeccable taste Laura Vinroot Poole. She’s a fashion insider, so everything at her boutique is something special or coveted, from the best pieces from the new Gucci collection to exclusive capsule collections in stores now from dress designer Tracy Feith and milliner-to-the-stars Nick Fouquet.
225 26th St. #38A, Santa Monica; 424-268-4641 or shop-capitol.com
5. Reformation (beverly Grove)
Best for: When you’re feeling Euro-chic (for the Golden Globes or taking houseguests out for steak frites)
It’s scientifically proven that polka dots make Europeans’ pulses race 0.63% faster than Americans exposed to the same pattern. OK, none of that is true, but we’ve noticed how the subtle sexiness and gosh darn class of a polka-dot dress like this one from Reformation can really class up a joint. So try this proper and discreet dotted midi ($248) with understated sandals or pumps and see if you don’t get mistaken as being part of an international entourage.
8000 Melrose Ave.; 855-756-0560 or thereformation.com