The dress: its the quintessential icon of femininity. There's a silhouette to flatter every body shape, a color to express every mood, and a style to match every occasion. But finding the right combination of tulle and taffeta is no easy task. Unlike pairing tops and bottoms to craft a complete look, the challenge of choosing a gown lies in selecting a singular garment that symbolizes the occasion, embodies the current trends, and translates a woman's unique femininity to all. When it comes to glamorous occasion gowns, we've rounded up the best boutiques that will promise to give you a fab dress you won't be able to wait to wear--and most importantly, one that won't wear you.

Herve Leger

When you're rocking the red carpet or pillaging the party scene, there's nothing more seductive, smoothing and sculpting (no Spanks required) than an Herve Leger bandage dress. Leger-lovers like Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston, and Victoria Beckham can't get enough of these bondage-like, body-enhancing getups. But if you're like most people and consider a $2,000 cocktail dress a splurge, swing by BCBGFinal Cut on Melrose and poke around--they've been known to supply some past season picks for as low as $400. 

439 N. Rodeo Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 275-2550

Betsey Johnson

No one does young, fun and feminine quite like Betsey. The plethora of charmeuse and chiffon makes this boutique a simple choice for a junior shopper's special occasion--but the sweetheart necklines and layered petticoats are perfect for any celebratory gathering. But more than the sequins and satin, we love the sale selection--oodles of items up to 40% off usually fill up the back wall. 

8050 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 852-1534

Petro Zillia

More often than not, frisky, whimsical dresses are crafted with worthless, flimsy materials--unless you're at Petro Zillia. The whimiscal boutique is filled with fanciful frocks in fearless colors, constructed to perfection. Flirty girls (think Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan) love this shop for housing hordes of vivid fantasy dresses. Owner and designer Nony Tochterman's ageless spirit and fun-loving ideals are captured with every piece. If it's a statement you want, Petro Zillia provides. 

8218 West 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 653-3080

For a sophisticated style that flaunts intricate details like delicate embroidery, accordion pleats, and structured ruffles, this mecca of Malandrino has nearly 6,000 square-feet to call home. The silhouettes range from sleek to slouchy, with darling dresses for day and glitzy gowns for nights on the town. Eva Longoria and Charlize Theron are longtime fans of the french designer, as well as celebs like Mary J. Blige and Perry Reeves. 

651-653 N. La Cienega Blvd. 
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 358-0895

It's not just a dress, it's the dress. The most meaningful and recognizable garment in our culture. For the mother of all dresses--the wedding dress--Monique Lhuiller is a required stop. Even if the price range exceeds your budget--heck, even if you're not engaged--every bride-to-be (and wannbe) owes it to herself to poke around the lavish boutique. Sleeker, gauzey-silks or full-skirted classic princess gowns along side equally stunning bridesmaids gowns all served up by friendly sales reps and in-house seamstresses. That's more than enough to make anyone say "I do". 
8485 Melrose Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(323) 655-1088