Best shops in LA: The insider's guide to Melrose Avenue

Whether you're looking for posh party dresses or punk creepers, Melrose Avenue has some of the best shops in LA. Here's your guide to styles both high and low.

Photograph: Zen Sekiwa
Creatures of Comfort

In a city with so much sprawl, shopping in Los Angeles can be tricky. But Melrose Avenue is one of those rare shopping destinations with some of the best shops for every need. After all, where else can you park once and find styles for both a posh black-tie museum gala and a punk show at the Echo? Here, we break down two ways to shop this eclectic strip—for luxury lovers, and for those who take their style cues from the street.

Luxury

Decades

Critics' pick

First-time visitors to LA are often surprised at the lack of so-called Hollywood glamour on our streets: So much messy beach hair! Denim galore! Not the case at Decades, a vintage and designer consignment shop that’s orchestrated countless red carpet moments over the last 15 years. Expect a mix of show-stopping vintage gowns fit for awards season; late-20th century day dresses and skirt suits plucked from socialites’ overflowing closets; and a host of pristine pieces from more recent runway seasons, including names like Chanel, Prada and Christian Louboutin—all for under $300.

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West Hollywood

Resurrection

A pilgrimage to Resurrection is practically a religious experience for vintage fashion fans, especially those with a penchant for pieces that are a little bit gypsy, a little bit avant-garde. The shop’s sweet spot is its collection of pieces from the swinging ’60s and ’70s—think: mini shift dresses from Pierre Cardin and Courrèges, hanging alongside floaty boho frocks by Ossie Clark and Thea Porter. Be sure to check out owner Katy Rodriguez’s own fashion and jewelry lines, which have the same whimsical flair as her vintage pieces at a slightly more manageable price tag.

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Fairfax/Beverly/La Brea/Third St.

Fred Segal

Critics' pick

Fred Segal is perhaps the most recognizable name in LA retail, thanks to a series of high-profile shout-outs in cinematic favorites such as Clueless and Legally Blonde. With that in mind, your out-of-town houseguests will most likely want to check it out—either while shopping on Melrose Avenue or during a beach break in Santa Monica. If it’s a souvenir tote they’re after, we recommend the Melrose outpost, but if they’re just visiting to kill time before lunch, all signs point to SaMo—lauded LA burger chain Umami has a restaurant space in the store.

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West L.A.

Kelly Wearstler

She got her start as one of LA’s most buzzed-about interior designers, then forayed into fashion with a womenswear line as saturated with color, print and texture as the homes and hotels she decorates. Now, Kelly Wearstler has added retailer to her resume, opening a Melrose flagship store that brings all of her creative pursuits together in one place. Get the designer’s swoon-worthy look with painterly print blouses, pants and biker jackets; sculptural brass jewelry; and objects for the home, from vintage club chairs to tableware to quirky objets d’art.

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West L.A.

The Guise Archives

You can take away our green juice, you can keep us from our thrice-weekly yoga classes, but no self-respecting Angeleno can possibly do without a pair of statement sunglasses. The Guise Archives is one of our favorite places to stock up, carrying an array of hard-to-find frames both vintage (Carrera, Ray-Ban) and modern (Benjamin Eyewear, Wildfox). They’ve also got regular eyeglasses by brands like Salt Optics and Tavat, allowing you to check another LA must-have off the list: slick specs to wear while working on your screenplay at the coffee shop.

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Fairfax/Beverly/La Brea/Third St.

Creatures of Comfort

This shop attracted so much love from LA ladies after opening in 2005 that owner Jade Lai decided to launch a second outpost in New York. But we’re still partial to the original location, a rare refuge of peace off Melrose Avenue. Inside, you’ll find unobtrusively cool brands from both near (Clare Vivier handbags, All For the Mountain jewelry) and far (loads of Isabel Marant and Rachel Comey). Our favorite pieces in the store, however, have to be from CoC’s in-house clothing line, filled with the kind of perfect basics you’ll wear over and over—slouchy tees, cropped trousers and pretty patterned blouses, to name just a few.

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West Hollywood

TenOverSix

Critics' pick

This pastel-painted boutique is hard to miss and often referred to as one of the city’s best spots for gift shopping, but we prefer to stop by when we’re looking to buy a gift for ourselves. Accessories are the name of the game, with a roster of so-hot-right-now names—Clare Vivier bags, Pamela Love jewelry—and lesser-known designers, many hailing from our own fair city. We usually head straight for the women’s shoe section, which bears a neatly edited collection of Dieppa Restrepo’s cheerfully-colored loafers, Rachel Comey booties and TenOverSix’s own brand of subtly sculptural dress pumps. The airy shop, which resembles an art gallery more than a traditional retail space, is also a great place to come for gifts. Look for kids’ gear, indie albums, small leather goods and fragrances that are hard to find anywhere else.

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West Hollywood

Edgy

Wasteland

Critics' pick

Can’t afford to shop at the Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg or Helmut Lang shops on Melrose? Not to worry—Wasteland always has plenty of these designers and more, for less than you’d pay for lunch at The Ivy. This sprawling consignment shop is filled with rack upon rack of lightly-worn clothing and accessories for guys and gals, with a bit of vintage in the mix as well. The store also allows you to sell your closet castoffs for cash or store credit—we often spot celebs among the selling crowd, with garbage bags full of swag in tow.

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Fairfax/Beverly/La Brea/Third St.

Joyrich

This store is worth a visit even if it’s just to Instagram its greenery-covered, floral-awning façade—but we recommend also having a look around inside as well. Here, you’ll find streetwear designed for those who don’t like to blend into the background, from bomber jackets and backpacks splashed with pop art-inflected prints to graphic tees with ’80s flair. Joyrich’s flagship store also carries a crew of similarly flashy streetwear brands—in the past, we’ve spotted names like Jeremy Scott for Adidas and Dimepiece.

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West L.A.

Posers

Back in the ’80s, Melrose was the sartorial epicenter of the city’s punk scene—a legacy that’s being carried on today by Posers. Here, you’ll find just about every style of Dr. Martens combat boots and TUK creepers imaginable, along with iconic Brit brands Fred Perry, Merc and Ben Sherman (all hallmarks of ’60s mod culture that have survived to the present day). And don’t let the store’s tough exterior scare you off—locals agree that Posers’ friendly service is one of the best things about it.

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West L.A.

What Katie Did

Let’s be honest, ladies: We’ve all got a Joan Harris–style vixen inside just waiting to be coaxed out by a fabulous bullet bra. At What Katie Did, you’ll find them in abundance, along with a host of seamed stockings, girdles and garter belts. Fashion editors and costume designers flock here for the most authentic approximations of vintage unmentionables in town—most recently, the shop’s wares appeared in My Week with Marilyn—but with most price tags under $100, you don’t need a starlet’s salary to indulge.

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West L.A.

The Reformation

Critics' pick

We’ve all been there—you find a vintage dress in the most perfect shade of cerulean silk, but with a ripped seam or set of ’80s puffed sleeves that render it all but unwearable. At Reformation, designer Yael Aflalo takes such diamonds in the rough and makes them shine, cutting vintage garb and surplus fabric into thoroughly modern silhouettes, from cropped blouses to breezy maxidresses and flirty shorts. Everything’s made right in the store, ensuring that the breaking trend you’re coveting today could quite possibly be approximated (and sustainably so) by next week—fast fashion, indeed.

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West Hollywood

Suru

We never would have guessed that a Linkin Park band member would choose to open a Japanese-inspired concept store in his spare time, but we suppose stranger things have gone down in Hollywood. At Suru, look for a tightly edited selection of streetwear for guys and gals, with tees from the likes of Freshjive, Stussy and Iron & Resin displayed on a revolving conveyor belt. Art is also well-represented—think: collectable toys by Kaws and Ron English, artist prints and even spray paint and pens for Retnas-in-training.

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West L.A.

Brooklyn Projects

We’ll forgive Brooklyn Projects for taking its name from the lesser coast, but only because it’s got one of our favorite arrays of skateboards and gear this side of the 405. Look for kicks by Nike SB and New Balance, tees and such by Obey and Rebel8, and decks for all occasions.  If you aren’t a hard-core skater or sneakerhead, don’t be intimidated—the shop has a reputation for ultra-friendly service, so even those who don’t know a longboard from a shortboard will be able to find their perfect match.

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Fairfax/Beverly/La Brea/Third St.

Comments

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Wendi Bear
Wendi Bear

The newest edition to the eclectic shopping scene on Melrose Ave., Vapes of Wrath just recently opened it's doors. Featuring electronic cigarettes, e-juices and mods. Catering to the those attempting to quit smoking as well as fans of the e-cigarette trend. Vapes of Wrath also features art work on their walls and serves as a host to monthly art exhibits. More than just a store, VOW is also a lounge for those wanting to hang out and sample some of their hard to find e-juice flavors. Along with their e-cig products, VOW also sales T-shirts, hats and other promotional gear.