Where do you shop to find that perfect dress in all of East Bay? Instead of going to the same old mall and retail chain yawners, hop to the spots that know a thing or two about fashion and flair. Gallavant to a shop that offers high-end brands at rock-bottom prices. Here are some of the best shops around when you’re trying to look your best for a night out on the town. 

Lilac Dress Boutique
1918 Encinal Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 865-2544

Would you trust finding a great dress if it came from a store owned by a former buyer for Cartier in New York? Or would you trust a store owned by a former buyer for Nicole Miller in San Francisco or a manager for Bloomingdales? That is the expertise of what Pilar, owner of Lilac Dress Boutique, has under her belt. Having her own shop has been her long-time ambition, and thus was born Lilac. The brands that distinguish this boutique as a top place to shop include Kirrilla, Corey-Lynn Calter, Nicole Miller and Bianca Nero. Any dress purchased from Lilac is sure to appeal to all eyes at every chic party you attend.

Agatha Rainford Boutique
6025 College Ave.
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 595-0837

For one-of-a-kind cocktail dresses and spectacular service, visit this boutique for a shopping experience unlike any other. The dresses are beautiful, elegant and just right to wear to any evening affair. Claudette, the owner, is an engaging and helpful shopkeeper. To find out more information about this boutique, call the number above. There is not a website, but the gorgeous gem you find here will make up for any inconvenience caused before the trip.

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The Dressing Room
5332 College Ave.
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 428-2208

Simply put, The Dressing Room is equivalent to a tuxedo service for women. This store offers designer rental gowns and cocktail dresses that include the cost of dry cleaning. The sizes range from zero to 14 and dress rentals are three days. Dresses can be reserved in advance with a 50-percent deposit. Instead of purchasing a pricey gown from Nordstrom, Saks or Bloomindales, these choice designs can be borrowed and returned without worrying about your pocketbook getting burned. The selection of garments is so vast that alterations (which cannot be done) are not necessary. Late fees may apply.

Jessica McClintock Boutique
375 Sun Valley Mall
Sun Valley Mall
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 969-9321

If you are a lover of Jessica McClintock fashion, then this is the store for you – but with a little bonus. This boutique offers sales sometimes up to 60 percent off the regular price. Does that make it a bargain? No, this would equate to a steal. The JMB in Concord, California offers a complete collection of trendy looks for your evening party or gala. Walking into a room with an authentic JM design is sure to keep the night going sublime.

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3587 Mt Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 962-0208

Don’t let the name fool you – Duchess is not a frilly boutique straight off the streets of Notting Hill. From high- to low-end brands, you’ll find a delightfully unique display of dresses for your special night. You can count on sophistication since this shop caters to many well-to-do patrons. But, just as this boutique offers glamour and up-to-the-minute fashions, it also fills in the gap and provides an equal amount of moderately-priced items that are just as intoxicating. If you have to travel here from afar, it’ll be worth the journey when you find your gem.

Thrift Town
16160 E 14th St.
San Leandro, CA 94578
(510) 278-1766

If your prudent fingers long to peruse for a good bargain, then go to Thrift Town. This second-hand thrift store has racks aplenty of vintage, contemporary and all dress fads in between. Whatever treasure you find here, it will surely compete with cocktail dresses from the sleekest of boutiques. Visibly marked tags are displayed to reveal which items are 50 percent off that day. Check out the “After 6 Evening Attire” rack for the evening dress of your dreams. With the economical prices found here, you’ll most likely have change to spare to pick up a few accessories for your night out on the town.

Kelly Gullo is a freelance writer in San Francisco, CA. Kellys topics are about music and nightlife. Kelly has also written a variety of articles on health and dieting and topics related to the environment. Kelly has a degree in journalism and public relations from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.