If you want to buy the kurta—this summer's hottest beach cover-up—in quite possibly the hottest location ever, that'd be Bombay. Just ask any of the city's 1,000 people per square mile where to go; someone will direct you. Closer, cheaper and less jaw-droppingly gritty is Diane's Swimwear in Newport and Huntington, where if they don't have a kurta in your size or style, they'll get you one. 920AvocadoAve.,NewportBeach,(949)759-6880;116MainSt.,HuntingtonBeach,(714)536-7803.
They've got your kurtas, your terrycloth skirts, your gauzy, lacy things ("Anything gauze," founder Erica Thomas says, "sells a ton"). Prices are all over the map. Kurtas, for instance, range from $98 to $300, depending on the detailing. 2919E.CoastHwy.,CoronadelMar,(949)673-9333;www.ericadee.com.
Founder Merrilee Madrigal states the obvious, telling us that "most girls just wear them [suits] for tanning." But she's right on point where materials are concerned: beads, coconut and shell accents will be huge this summer, Madrigal vows. Also? Belted suits are "last year." Tie-dye is "this year." Time for a garage sale. 790S.CoastHwy.,LagunaBeach,(949)497-6743.
The other end of the fashion spectrum from the small, indie, hands-on boutique is this recently refurbished indoor mall where you'll find $12 women's boardshorts at Old Navy, more sunglasses than you can ever lose at Claire's, accessories from September Moon, and the latest from scrappy underdog Wet Seal (still bankruptcy free!). The Village people (sorry) also tell me that they're stocked up to here—here!—with beachy stuff in polka dots and sequins. If I were you, I'd want you (which'd be me) telling me that. I think. 1500E.VillageWay,Orange,(714)998-0440;www.thevillageatorange.com.
Just admit it: you're going here first—because everything is here—and by everything, we mean brands that supposedly are so five years ago, but really? They're not. Brands like Roxy, whose boy shorts lend a new meaning and depth to the front low-rise. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Also: they clock in at around $44—but then, that's the price you pay to be au courant, or some variation thereof. 20CityBlvd.W.,Ste.203,Orange,(714)937-3924.