Best Places for Beach-Bag Basics
Noll Surfboards in San Clemente.
This luxury Parisian swimwear brand—which invented and patented its own fabrics—produces only one complete collection per year of sophisticated suits that perfectly hug and flatter the body. The current line celebrates Egypt and Syria with colors derived from vibrant Middle Eastern spices and the dusty desert. The label is also famous for capsule collections, which center several design variations around one particular print; in stores now is Vertigo, a checkerboard-patterned suit in full, medium, and minimal coverage. 9566 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills, 310-246-1008
Launched in 1984 by a mother searching for the clothing quality she missed from her native Sweden, this kids label is now available in dozens of stores. The Newport Beach locale offers a vast range of swim styles, including color-coordinated, reversible bikinis and the fast-drying Pool Party Tutu skirts for girly girls. For boys, there are big, bold prints featuring skulls, sharks, and sea creatures. Best of all, many suits offer 99 percent UVA/UVB protection. Fashion Island, Newport Beach, 949-759-0153
The Beverly Hills Bikini Shop
This landmark boutique has endured more than four decades thanks to its well-curated selection of brands, including Vix, Mikoh Swimwear, and L*Space, as well as top-notch customer service. A visit here means you needn’t worry about buying the wrong suit: The staff is honest (really, they are) and will actually tell you how you look in that string bikini. For your next Hollywood Hills pool party, try the shop’s cheeky bow bikini bottoms by Lolli. 245 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-550-6331
Inspired by legendary big-wave surfer Greg Noll, the Noll brand’s rich history of pushing boundaries dates back to 1951. Now, having launched its own line of apparel— ranging from custom surf-lifestyle clothing to men’s and women’s rash guards—the company has truly put itself on the map. Dive into the stretch board shorts from Noll’s new Billabong collaboration, which are a modern version of the ones Noll himself used to surf in. 1709 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, 949-369-6500
Undrest by the Sea
Aiming to replicate the laid-back elegance seen on the beaches of Brazil, owner/designer Maria Paz Navales launched her line in 2007 and now boasts shops on both Melrose and Abbot Kinney. With the help of stretchy elastic waistbands, double-layered fabrics, and completely singular styles, Navales has managed to create beachwear that is both comfortable and cutting-edge. Take celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson’s word for it and slip into a pair of the brand’s water leggings, great for workouts both in and out of the Pacific. 1136 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 310-314-1180
Every parent knows if you want a relaxing day at the beach, bring plenty of snacks and a menagerie of toys. Toy Crazy—housed in the Malibu Country Mart—fulfills your every need, from pails and shovels to kites. Kick off a friendly water-balloon fight with the Pumponator Balloon Pumping Station, or sit back and watch the kids construct castles with the Big Dig Metal ride-on crane. Malibu Country Mart, Malibu, 310-456-5696
Classic elegance with a splash of color and a side of fun perfectly describes this French men’s brand. While it does produce swimsuits in gray, black, and navy blue, the line is best known for ornate patterns and vivid color. Aside from beachwear, Vilebrequin also makes summer must-haves, including linen shirts and terry cloth polos, but the hands-down cutest gets in the store are father-son matching swim trunks. 9519 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-205-9087
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.