Whether you're cruising the pricey stratosphere of haute couture or browsing a vintage boutique, shopping the Southern California coast can be an exquisite experience.
Chandeliers grace impossibly high ceilings against a backdrop of bay and sky at A'Maree's in Newport Beach, which has been called the most beautiful store in the world. You'll find clothing and housewares culled from the world's finest designers, but not a soupçon of snobbery from the down-to-earth owners — two sisters who'll graciously welcome you and let you explore at your leisure.
Spouting fountains, a koi pond and striking views of the Pacific make Newport Beach's Fashion Island much more than just a mall: It gives new meaning to the term "retail therapy." In addition to upscale department stores and chains, you'll find the flagship stores of prestigious designers and a variety of specialty shops from the new Kendra Scott jewelry boutique, with its celebrity clientele, to the casual and affordable chic of Brandy Melville.
The old-time charm of Balboa Island is more than surface décor. Within the quaintly painted buildings you'll find fascinating shops with a very personal feel. Lucky Seven Scarves features the graceful designs of artist/owner Brentano Haleen, printed on silk in limited editions of five. And at CandlEssence Candles, it's fascinating to watch the owners create their unique scented candles at the front of the store.
If there's one must-have item for a beach town, it's a great swimsuit — which is what you'll find at BeachCandy by BritB in Corona del Mar. The original designs, embellished with Swarovski crystals, can be custom-tailored for an impeccable fit — no matter what type of figure you have. As owner/designer Brit Barber put it, "We take the time to make sure every client feels extraordinary."
—Maxine Nunes for Newport Beach