With summer on our heels, it’s time to start thinking about what to wear to our next barbecue, outdoor concert, etc. You can really never have enough denim, dresses and shoes.  And there are tons of shops around Los Angeles that will give you just what you need and promise to not break your wallet. Even better, these stores are not named Forever Roman Numeral or named after the eighth and 13th letters of the alphabet, so you can truly get clothing that’s unique.

Living in Downtown so close to the Fashion District and all, I really get a glimpse into what the trends are – in other words, I check out what is being knocked off from the magazines. While I tend to shy away from things like these, essentials like maxi dresses run rampant and are really cute. The Fashion District is a place you can bring $100 to and come back with a bunch of items or even with cash back if you bargain well enough!  

The key to shopping in the Fashion District is not to waste your time at the stores that are generic looking. You came down here to shop for unique items, not to look like everyone else. The only generic thing I recommend in the heart of the Fashion District would be sunglasses. We all tend to lose, scratch or break those, so those kinds of purchases are perfect from the shops in the alley, etc. But if you walk right off 8th on Maple, there are tons of stores with mannequins donning beautiful summer dresses in different patterns and colors. Nothing runs over $30, and the dresses hold up surprisingly well after washing.

Sometimes I like to go a little more unique with my footwear if I’m wearing a simple dress, so I head over to Virgo (216-A E. 9th St.; boosandbesito.com/virgo). This vintage shop sells all things Jeffrey Campbell, including the coveted Lita boots in exclusive colors. I can usually find something to complete my look for less than $75.

The ladies who own Virgo are the creators of retro-inspired shoe blooms, cute flowery contraptions that you slide over your favorite heels to make a new look. They can easily turn your denim shorts, flowy top and wedges into a vintage and sophisticated look that is wearable and can be interchanged with your other clothes.

Right near Virgo is Cinema Fashion (220 E. 9th St.). Cinema carries almost everything you could possibly need for a summer outing, from large cocktail rings to rompers. It’s hard not to spend less than $100 at this place so just be forewarned. At least for that amount of money, you’ll go home with multiple items, depending on how you match everything up.  

At the New Mart (127 E. 9th St.; newmart.net) and California Market Center (110 E. 9th St.; californiamarketcenter.com), there are sample sales galore. At the CMC, there is an event called Unique LA that offers all sorts of deals from local vendors. Pay just $10 and you’re free to roam the rows of clothing for men like ARKA, clothing for women, jewelry and accessories, and even housewares. The New Mart holds sample sales every last Friday of the month. This sale is a bit of a mission since you need to show up early and get the list of showrooms that are selling to the public, but again it’s worth it! I remember a few years ago I purchased a ton of Mike & Chris items for $5 each. They usually run upwards of $100, so I really lucked out!

Venture up to 6th and Spring for even more style (albeit more expensive) to Crack Gallery (204 W. 6th St.; crackgallery.com). I like this shop mainly for accessories like bags and earrings, but they do carry up-and-coming designers, and the average price range is about $40 for a dress. Crack Gallery doubles as an art studio, so I usually visit this spot during Downtown’s Art Walk. During that time they stay open later and occasionally offer discounts.