London is a frenetic metropolis that will feel familiar to city girls (and/or enthusiasts) around the world. I was told, prior to the trip, that London would remind me of NYC and that’s a fair comparison. The underground tube is easy to follow and all you really need for transportation, the streets are teeming with people swiftly trying to get from point A to point B and the shops, oh my, the shopping is uh-may-zing!
If you’re not rich yet still find yourself in London Town, you may occasionally fight back tears over all the wonderfully stylish items you come across that you can’t afford. The pound to dollar ratio is a mutha…however, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. You can still shop enjoyably in London, and keep some coins in your purse.
Here are seven gems to your rescue, just don’t over do it:
The Westfield Mall can be a sensory overload experience because it’s massive but I knew what I was there for–the Model’s Own Bottle Shop, which I encourage you to see. There are also many other shops worth your time that sell a variety of goods from lingerie, to shoes, dresses, and jeans, and I urge you to make a day of it. There’s a delicious candy vendor that sells Turkish Delight and other goodies, as well as a juice bar and a food court where you can get traditional fare like fish and chips, and even Indian street food. I had the latter, and it was delicious (but the food in London is another story).
Primark had stylish clothing at prices directly on par with the more economical clothing brands in the United States, think H&M meets Rainbow. I found basic dresses for as low as $8 (with US conversion) and seemingly warm coats and jackets that wouldn’t have set me back more than $50. You just have to treat the clothes at Primark as you would to said comparison stores–ie, inspect them for holes or damage and make sure you are OK with the quality before making your purchase.
You’re probably familiar with River Island from Rihanna’s collaboration with them and if you shop at ASOS. That’s a good starter but River Island in the flesh is so much cooler than you could imagine as far as variety. Prices here vary but tend to be on par with Zara and their sales are really good.
Dorothy Perkins has a variety of women’s clothing and accessories but I really like their dresses. They have such lady like, sophisticated styles and cuts that’s it’s hard not to grab a massive handful of frocks to try on all at once. Prices here are diverse but typically in the $25-$80 range but they also seem to have really good sales as well. They had jeans on sale for about $10 and I even saw dresses for about that much, and less. You can shop Dorothy Perkins online but you should experience the real deal in person, if you can.
Top Shop Oxford Circus
Yes, there are Top Shops in a few major cities in the US and yes, there are a lot of Top Shops around London but this is the one you want to see. It’s the one that makes a spectacle, the Top Shop mother ship. There’s a mini food court, they carry local designers, the accessories section is huge and they also have a Wah Nails salon. The latter part is a treat for those of you who really want to partake in the London nail art experience, because good nails will cost you. Wah Nails, founded by Sharmadean Reid, is the leader in nail art on the London scene and the “Wah Girls” can come up with just about any design you can think of.
If you go when the weather is bearable make sure to visit one of London’s many outdoor markets. That is where you will be able to find more authentic items. For starters, there’s the Portobello Market on the Westend and it’s two miles of shopping fun. Expect to find antiques, arts and crafts, street food, fruits and veggies and tons of people.
As soon as you walk in you’re going to think, “It’s a trap!” Admittedly, it is, however, I like to stock up on touristy things like, keychains, charms, stuffed animals, magnets and T-shirts whenever I visit other places. There are a lot of places in London where you can get the aforementioned items but do yourself a favor and knock it out of the way in one visit. Cool Britannia will have every thing you’ll ever need in this vein of shopping and for wallet friendly prices. You will come out better here financially than if you purchased similar items at tourist attractions where the prices may be marked up.