Even farther south on the Peninsula, Terranea Resort's Marea (6610 Palos Verdes Drive S.) boutique is a destination worth visiting for Seaton seahorse-patterned cashmere sweaters, breezy Isabel Marant blouses and lace dresses, sparkly beach cocktail wear by Diane von Furstenberg and Gryphon, fine jewelry by Kimberly McDonald and Jennifer Meyer.
Newport Beach shopping is a study in contrasts. The area has a variety, including one of the top designer fashion boutiques in the world (A'maree's), hometown stores on Balboa Island and a particularly unusual shop with upcycled beachwear that quietly subverts the tradition of Orange County's corporate, big-money surf brands.
A'maree's (2241 W. Coast Highway) has been the standard bearer for high fashion in the O.C. since 1976. The family-owned lifestyle boutique features cutting-edge European fashion from Celine, Balenciaga, Azzedine Alaia, Rick Owens and Dries Van Noten, alongside Japanese brands Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe and Sacai — all filtered through the lifestyle prism of Southern California — plus loads of exclusives that the owners find on their travels.
For summer, there's a huge display of wispy tunics and sundresses by L.A.-based label Dosa, as well as artful piles of sandals by Golden Goose. Be sure to check out the totes by Luisa Cevese from Milan, made of very chic-looking recycled textiles, and the natural hemp rugs and throws from Japan.
A'maree's moved into its current digs on the waterfront of Newport Harbor in 2010. The modernist building was designed in 1961 by Pasadena architects Thornton Ladd and John Kelsey, who would go on to design the Norton Simon Museum. It has floor-to-ceiling windows and glass portholes allowing views of the yachts passing by on the water outside and the fish swimming below. This is a shopping experience not to be missed.
Next door is Yoki's Garden (2429 W. Coast Highway), the new home of Jeff Yokoyama's unorthodox surf-wear brand Generic Youth, a collection of one-of-a-kind pieces made from discarded beach towels.
Inside the small shop, hoodies, vests and board shorts feature patchworks of logos, prints and colors that blur together like sun-soaked memories of summers gone by (an embroidered Ralph Lauren Polo Pony, the slogan "Aloha '96" and an old Maui & Sons shark logo, for example). Yokoyama uses zippers, hoods and ribbed hems from hoodies from Goodwill to round out the garments, making them 100% repurposed.
Yokoyama, a 25-year vet of the surf industry, founded iconic beach brands as Maui & Sons, Pirate Surf and Modern Amusement, before selling them and going on to start Generic Youth in 2007. He also works with the University of Southern California athletic department, using discarded athletic uniforms and repurposing them into some of the funkiest collegiate garb you've ever seen. You can watch the seamstresses doing the cutting and sewing in the back.
A few miles south along Mariner's Mile, the historic midcentury building known as the Cove (410 W. Coast Highway) was destined for demolition until last year, when it reopened as a retail complex with a handful of boutiques owned by female entrepreneurs, featuring a variety of goods. Blend features fashionable yet easy-to-wear clothing such as Mother Jeans, Clover Canyon blouses and Ulla Johnson dresses. And MerMade Designs has coastal-inspired home décor and gifts.
Across the bridge on Balboa Island, at A'maree's Sale Away (332 Marine Ave.), the boutique's sale shop, you can score Dries Van Noten and Givenchy dresses, Sacai sweaters, Lanvin and Pierre Hardy shoes at up to 70% off.
Along the rest of Marine Avenue on Balboa Island, you'll find plenty of garb for the beach and sunset cocktails. Check out Five Seas (224 Marine), Sunny Days (304 Marine) and Etc. Etc. Etc. (312 Marine) for laminated canvas bags in seaside prints by Halsea, which is based in Costa Mesa, Toms shoes and Superga sneakers, Johnny Was tunics, Alice & Olivia and Diane von Furstenberg sundresses and Parker beaded jackets.
For lunch, try the poke and the fish tacos at Bear Flag Fish Co. (407 31st St.).
Laguna Beach is the place where art and surf meet. The area's luxury resorts and annual summer-long arts festival guarantee a steady stream of visitors. When it comes to fashion, there are concept shops, boutiques and one of Southern California's best independent surf shops to tempt them.
When surf industry vets Dana Marron and Laura Hart quit their day jobs and opened their store Laguna Supply (210 Beach St.) in 2008, they brought contemporary fashion to Laguna Beach in a big way. Today, their boutique is full of dresses and tops from A.L.C., Isabel Marant and Tucker; Maison Scotch striped T-shirts, Closed Denim, Lemlem caftans and Painted Bird crocheted shoes.
But before them, Fetneh Blake (427 N. Coast Highway and 1476 S. Coast Highway) was a true fashion pioneer. When she opened her shop in 2001, she introduced Laguna Beach to high-end, avant-garde European designers such as Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens and Olivier Theyskens. Since then, she's added a second location and several other lines. A few of her current favorites are Japanese rock 'n' roll line If6Was9, oxidized diamond jewelry by Irit (worn by Michelle Obama) and scarves by Faliero Sarti.
Anastasia (470 Ocean Ave.), also on the cutting edge, is a cafe and concept store featuring artfully ripped and draped clothing by Vivienne Westwood, Lost and Found, Plein Sud and Unconditional.
H. Laguna Beach (1045 S. Coast Highway), owned by the same people who run H. Lorenzo in L.A., mixes high fashion and boho beach to spectacular effect, with tribal-print sundresses and maxi-skirts by Mara Hoffman and Haute Hippie, as well as relaxed tailored jackets from Iro, linen and lace cardigans from Japanese brand Vlas Blomme and lace trench coats by Sacai.
Continuing on the boho beat, Lala (1145 S. Coast Highway) is textile designer and Laguna local Kerry Cassill's lifestyle boutique, featuring Indian-inspired ikat, floral and dot prints on everything for the body and home, including tunic tops, robes, placemats, napkins, pillows, bedding and upholstery fabric.