Finding the right women's clothing boutique means a lot of trial and error. Somewhere between the dingy storefronts packed with poorly-made clothing in sizes that only fit Keira Knightley and the intimidating, overly priced booths that cater to those in that actress's tax bracket are reasonably priced boutiques where a size four doesn't mean an extra large. Here are a few of our favorites.
10. Jami Lyn
Yes, most of the time the tailored list of high-end labels like DL1961 and Robert Rodriguez at Jami Lyn Roberts' eponymous boutique can push the paycheck too far. But then there are the semi-annual sales, where Roberts marks down items by 50 to 90 percent. We're talking Diane von Furstenberg dresses for $28. The sales are some of the reasons L.A. Weekly named her store best Robertson boutique in our 2012 Best of L.A. issue. 227 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 657-5887, jamilynclothes.com.
The friendly staff, multiple sales promotions and late hours (because you never know when you'll need to find a cute new bag or maxi dress at 9:30 p.m.) make up for the horrible street parking options at Native, a modern boutique near UCB Theater.5915 Franklin Ave., Hlywd. (323) 962-7710, facebook.com/NativeBoutique.
8. KIMSKI makes
When you want the Urban Outfitters look without the guilt or the price mark-ups, there's Little Tokyo's KIMSKI makes. Find loud floral printed dresses, chunky sweaters and neon accessories and still have enough cash left over to enjoy happy hour at nearby Spitz. We at L.A. Weekly like KIMSKI so much that we named it Little Tokyo's best grab-bag shopping in our 2011 Best of L.A. issue. 369 E. 2nd St., Little Tokyo. (213) 626-0340, kimski.com.
Elaine Francisco started her career as an assistant accessories editor at (now defunct) teen magazine YM. That youthful energy can still be seen in the teals, oranges, pinks, purples and more bright colors that pop through the sundresses, scarves, tunics and more at her eCookie boutique in Venice Beach. There's even a, ahem, shall we say bachelorette party-themed accessories section in the back.1639 Abbot Kinney Blvd. (310) 392-2135, ShopeCookie.com.
6. Vanity Room
Everyone needs a little pick-me-up sometimes; just a small accessory or new screen-printed T to liven up your wardrobe without doing too much damage to your bank account. Laura Abeyta's Vanity Room in Culver City has these items, as well as neon sexy dresses for high-class brunches and date nights, killer heels sure to make impressions and even frilly underwear and layers to keep you looking like the lady you are. 13217 Washington Blvd., Culver City. (310) 821-3088, ShopVanityRoom.com.
5. Free Bird
Amidst rows of thrift shops and retro regalia in Burbank's Magnolia Park District is Free Bird. As if the name weren't enough of an indicator, shoppers can find a dash of bohemian flavor in the modestly priced flared pants and flowing tops. And they can support their neighbors by buying from the store's showcase of locally-designed jewelry and accessories. 3412 W. Magnolia Blvd, Burbank. (818) 848-2473, FreeBirdBoutique.com.
Not necessarily the cheapest place on this list, but Clover has won over its Silver Lake and Echo Park audiences with funky dresses, jeans and tops that are usually around the $100 price point. Factor in the home furnishings and gifts sections (vampire teeth bottle opener anyone?) and an (albeit small )men's section and it's clear they know their audience loves to mix quality with kitsch. (Attention west siders: Firefly in Venice also aces this aesthetic). 2756 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake. (323) 661-4142, CloverSilverLake.com.
For years, the Venice and Hollywood locations of DNA have been insiders' go-to places for stylish jeans without the sticker shock. That ethos carries to the stores' other items: tank tops, ponchos, printed summer dresses and other wardrobe essentials. 8000 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd. (323) 882-8464. 411 Rose Ave., Venice. (310) 399-0341, DNAclothing.com.
Camille De Soto takes great care in making sure her Eagle Rock boutique Lady has fashion-forward (but not overly trendy) dresses, tunics and skinny jeans at reasonable price points. That means it's easy cull through the mix of new and vintages finds and pull together an outfit for around $100 — and yes, that includes accessories. 4974 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 254-6500, LadyEagleRock.com.
The great thing about the ladies who can afford to go on Prada and Marc Jacobs shopping sprees is that eventually they tire of their fancy bags, frocks and shoes. That's where you benefit. Larchmont Boulevard consignment store Ampersand takes in those red carpet labels (as well as vintage items and even a few pieces from H&M and Target) and sells them at a fraction of the cost. The share the sale with the original owners and all items that don't sell are donated to charity. Everyone wins. 658 N. Larchmont Blvd., Larchmont. (323) 466-3300, ampersandboutique.com.