Fashion is as much a part of Los Angeles culture as traffic, juice bars, and plastic surgery. Naturally, then, when my older daughter started sketching couture dresses during “art time” at home, I knew some trips to L.A. had to happen. Quickly.

Our first trip was all about Rodeo Drive. The two of us stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills and spent a day wandering past boutiques, ogling spendy dresses, and daydreaming about princesses and modern-day balls. On a stop at Badgley Mischka, a salesperson invited us inside to sketch a dress or two between customers. The experience remains one of the high points of my daughter’s young life (You can read more about it here.).

Sketching L.A. fashion couture

 

Since that initial foray, the Big Girl and I have returned for two other fashion-focused visits to the City of Angels. On one of the follow-up trips, we spent a day at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Museum, strolling through gallery after gallery of haute couture, film costumes, and one-of-a-kind accessories. Her favorite: a turquoise-and-sequin Christian Dior evening gown from the 1960s.

 

During our time at the FIDM we also swung through a special exhibit about elaborate footwear, gloves, purses, and hats, some of which date back to the 19th Century. Special exhibits change every six months or so; the next one opens July 30, 2013, and focuses on the art of television costume design.

 

On our most recent fashion-focused visit to Los Angeles, I tried to make fashion even more accessible, and took my 4-year-old to American Girl Place at The Grove shopping mall. Think of this store like a theme park for American Girl dolls. They sell clothes. They take pictures. They even have a “salon” area where staff stylists (gladly) will wash and blow out a doll’s hair. I’m a sensitive guy, but, to be honest, I was a little overwhelmed by the place. Doll overload! More clothes than Macy’s! A line of humans primping plastic girls! Still, my daughter literally was jumping for joy at the idea of being in the presence of so many dolls. So I swallowed my reservations and helped her pick out a few fancy outfits for her American Girl.

 

We capped our visit to American Girl Place with afternoon tea – a surprisingly formal affair that included a three-tiered tray of scones, finger sandwiches, and tiny little cookies, as well as pink lemonade for my daughter and coffee for moi. Technically, we enjoyed this at a table for two. Of course the two of us weren’t alone; my daughter’s doll had its own chair and joined us for the entire affair.

Viewfinder tip: Bring washable crayons so your kids don’t ruin tables (or couture dresses) while they draw on trips.

I’m already thinking about our next fashion-focused trip to Los Angeles. Maybe we’ll hit the L.A. Fashion Show (scheduled this year for June 2-5). Maybe we’ll try to score front-row standing spots at an awards-show red carpet. Heck, we could just head back to Rodeo Drive and keep our eyes peeled for celebs. So long as there are fancy and sparkly dresses, I’m pretty confident my daughter will have a good time. And any trip that facilitates daddy-daughter bonding is a win for me.

How do you like to reinforce your kids’ passions while traveling?