Couple trying on hats on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica

Clothing Essentials and Where to Find Them in Santa Monica

Posted June 23, 2021

After over a year of hunkering down indoors, going out into a post-COVID world is now preceded by so many questions. Like, where do I go? And just as importantly, what do I wear? Getting back into a routine of throwing together stylish outfits or even shopping for them can seem like an understandably long-forgotten concept — and a difficult one at that. That said, assembling a truly chic outfit, however, doesn’t have to be daunting.

No matter how many years you’ve been out of practice, having a solid foundation for your closet can make the process a breeze. That starts with having well-curated wardrobe fail-safes — pieces with long fashion mileage that can take you from zero to hero in an instant. So, whether you’re looking for a wardrobe detox or wanting to weave in new, versatile duds into your current rotation, here are a few essentials you need — and where to find them in Santa Monica.

A tried-and-true blazer

Don’t underestimate the power of a good blazer. It’s one of those truly all-purpose items that can easily take you from brunch to the office to the grocery store. Throw it on top of everything from a timeless slip, a white tee and denim, or even loose-fit trousers — the possibilities are endless. Browse some options at HUGO BOSS, which boasts well-cut, tailored jackets and suits for men. Nab this perennial classic at Savannah, purveyor of high-end womenswear. And for gents, Indochino has a lineup of blazers and suits, from formal tailoring to more casual, laidback styles.

Go-to pair of denim

You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t appreciate a well-fitting pair of jeans. It is, after all, one of the most timeless, seasonless pieces you can always, always count on. If your denim repertoire is in need of a refresh, luckily, there are many local spots to pick up a new pair (or two). Known for its lineup of premium denim and apparel for both men and women, PAIGE stocks an assortment of can’t-go-wrong silhouettes. Of course, blue-jeans lovers will also feel right at home at Levi‘s, a hall-of-famer in the world of denim. Another must-stop on your shopping itinerary? The Westside‘s modern-slash-bohemian outpost, where you’ll spy denim by Re/Done, Citizens of Humanity and Agolde — and plenty of elevated coastal-chic pieces to boot.

An easy-breezy summer dress

A summer dress is a great answer to the “what do I wear today?” conundrum — and for good reason. It’s a one-piece item which makes getting dressed a no-brainer. (What’s more, with the temps heating up, a summer dress is something you can live in all season long.) If you’re on the hunt for flowy, ultra-feminine frocks, look no further than Reformation, an all-occasion label — think: picnics, daytime gatherings, soirees and weddings — with sustainability at its heart. Stop by Brooke Rodd for even more Cali-cool, easy-breezy garb.

Keep-forever jewelry

Jewelry can be more than just a finishing touch to an outfit; it can be an investment piece you’ll hold onto for years. Browse Sofia Kaman‘s sustainably crafted, antique-meets-modern creations, or stop by Moondance Jewelry, where you can pick up delicate, everyday pieces (both fine and fashion). Want to tap into your rock ‘n roll spirit? King Baby Studio offers up a line of men’s (and women’s) jewelry and accessories that make a bold statement. Think: skulls, lions, daggers, oh my!

Everyday sneakers

No longer only reserved for gym wear, sneakers are now the emblem of uncomplicated, laid-back chic. Whether they’re anchored with a flowy, knee-skimming dress or a tailored suit, sneakers can offer a mix of style and comfort. Really, with sneakers, it’s anything goes. That’s why they should have a coveted place in everyone’s wardrobe. Step into one of many stylish kicks at Berry Lee Shoes, a trusted go-to for footwear shoppers. Whatever you do, don’t leave without a stop at Undefeated, which has earned a reputation for featuring the most in-demand kicks (including its own in-house collaborations) all devoted sneakerheads will appreciate.

Classic sunglasses

Spending time under the Santa Monica sun often calls for a go-to pair of tinted specs — especially now that we’re all trading the indoors for the out. But aside from protecting you against a glaring sun, shades work to add a bit of attitude to every outfit, which is even more reason to add a pit stop to Montana Eyes to your shopping escapade. For even more options, hit up Sunsations Sunglasses & Optical and Eyes on Main. (When planning a visit to Eyes on Main, make sure to call ahead). Test-drive a slew of shapes from oversized frames and ultra-skinny silhouettes until you find your perfect match.

The quintessential knit

No matter the season, solid, high-quality knits have a special place in everyone’s wardrobe. A lightweight cardigan, for example, can come to your rescue when the temps drop at night. And a chunky sweater is a must-have layering hero for winter (or a heavily air-conditioned office). Head over to Lost & Found — purveyor of an impressive men’s and women’s edits, plus a homeware collection. The lifestyle-driven store carries a wide array of knits, from private label Portugal-made basics to cotton and cashmere sweaters from Italy. Next stop? Savannah‘s sleek digs, serving a covetable selection of fashion-forward, chic apparel, jewelry and shoes you’ll want to wear season after season. Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention Texture, a Sweater Store & More, guaranteed to freshen up your monthly sweater rotation.

The vintage conversation piece

Shopping for vintage items is a great way to recultivate and rediscover your personal style. What’s more, vintage pieces are also great conversation starters (which we could all use as we emerge from a year of isolation). But fishing for stylish one-of-a-kind finds is oftentimes an exhausting endeavor — unless you go to the right place. Dubbed as one of the best flea markets in the state, the Santa Monica Airport Antique Market (held on the first and fourth Sunday every month) is a treasure trove of rare and unexpected items. Missed the antique market? You can still peruse secondhand finds at Crossroads Trading Company, or try your luck at The Closet Trading Company, which curates thoughtfully picked pre-loved, high-end designer duds that make vintage hunting easy.

The wear-anywhere button-down

A button-down could possibly be one of the most humble, simple items in a closet, but that doesn’t make it any less of an all-star item. Johnny Was dreams up boho-chic basics worthy of a spot in your closet. Think: Oversized embroidered shirts and light, floaty button-downs. Lastly, don’t miss Jill Roberts, a contemporary boutique that also makes a strong case for California-cool wardrobe essentials, stocking an assortment of key pieces from top-notch American and international designers.

The formal shoe

Whether it’s kitten-heeled pumps or a pair of comfy mules, the formal shoe should be a part of any healthy wardrobe. For men, this could mean a dark brown brogue, a tan suede or even a simple black leather loafer. Kick off your post-quarantine shoe-shopping journey at Aldo, whose shelves are always reliably lined with on-trend options for both men and women. Or head over to Nordstrom, a veritable playground for shoe lovers. The retailer’s inventory includes a bounty of styles worth ditching your flip-flops for. To ease yourself back into high-heel and classic-shoe wearing, Rangoni Firenze also pitches a comfy, sensible breed of footwear handcrafted in, yes, Italy. (Sorry, gents, this one’s women-only.)

View all Santa Monica shops.


Discover Santa Monica

Explore itineraries, local tips, hot spots and curated adventures to make sure you get the most out of your Santa Monica experience.

View more Blogs