Here it is! The second installment of the Where to in London series: shopping! It took me some time to visit all the new shops in town, trying to figure out which ones were for me and which ones were for, well, no one. Here are a few things that I think might help you navigate the circus that is Oxford Street.
Department Store: John Lewis and House of Fraser. There are a few other options, but these are my two favourites. They have a good selection of brands and offer quality service.
Shopping Centre: Westfield. The original is in Shepherd’s Bush, and a second one opened before the Olympics in Stratford. Some of the biggest shopping centres in Europe, Westfield malls have it all: food, activities, and shopping. Go on, get lost. www.westfield.com/london
Trendy Clothes: River Island. I can’t get enough of this store. I accidentally skipped over it at the beginning, but soon realized that I could always find something to purchase at River Island. The clothes just fit! And they’re not too pricey either. Great for the latest trends at a decent price. www.riverisland.com
Cheap Shoes: Debenhams or Barratts. Okay, so shoes aren’t something we should routinely cheap out on, they set up our spine for good posture and also complete your outfit. That being said, sometimes you need something fast and inexpensive. The best place for shoes like these are the Debenhams in Westfield, they have a whole shoe boutique, and Barratts.
T-Shirts for Layering: Primark. This store is a zoo. There are several locations throughout the city, and everything is dirt cheap. You want to avoid the Oxford Street location near Marble Arch, it’s like Black Friday every day in there. Also, never bother going to a change room without the maximum six items, there is no point waiting in that line for anything less. You’ll find that most things won’t hang properly or fit like they’re supposed to. However, if you check it out every once in a while, you may happen upon a few gems; perhaps a blazer, a skirt for work, or some sparkly flats. One thing I think they do quite well are the tank tops and t-shirts–tons of colours, tons of sizes, several necklines, all for a few quid each.
Discount Store: TK Maxx. Sound familiar? It’s just like the American TJ Maxx, except with a K. If you’re looking for a Winners-type place to get some discount clothes, shoes, or accessories, there are TK Maxx stores throughout the city.
Makeup: Boots. This is my favourite drugstore; makeup, hair products, pharmacy items, and painkillers all under one roof. There is another one called Superdrug, but I find they’re consistently more expensive. Boots has a great selection of makeup, especially at their bigger locations. They carry fan favourites like Benefit and Clinique. www.boots.com
Nail polish: Barry M. Sally Hansen’s colours don’t seem to have made it across the pond. Never fear, Barry M is here. A UK-based brand, Barry M’s nail polish is my absolute favourite. For £2.99 a bottle, I get the longest lasting nail polish I’ve ever had. For me this beats Revlon and OPI any day. www.barrym.com
Books: Waterstones. A popular bookstore in London, and one you’ll see frequently around the city, is Waterstones. Like the Chapters-Starbucks partnership, they offer Costa coffee at many of their locations. But the best part about buying books in the UK is definitely the price. They’re much more affordable, with standard paperbacks ringing in at under £10. www.waterstones.com
Window Shopping: The King’s Road, Chelsea. Grab a coffee, wander down the street, take in the sights and the people. On a sunny day, there’s no better place to window shop than the King’s Road.
Make sure you also check out Where To in London: Essentials and Where To in London: Eating.