I love London; it always leaves me wanting more. The fashion is next level, the pubs super fun, and the people are genuinely enthusiastic about America and Americans. As a history fan, London does not disappoint and there is always something in view to remind you that Britain is great for a reason. I was there last month to see Eric Clapton’s final night at The Royal Albert Hall and brought an almost empty suitcase that I filled past capacity for my return home, British pound vs. American Dollar conversion rate be damned. Pick your poison fashion fans, or pick them all as I did. Whoops.
MAYFAIR / BOND STREET: HARRODS & SELFRIDGES
Want it ultra posh, upscale, and pricey? Heading to Mayfair and Bond Street are musts but be sure to go to Harrods and Selfridges. These London retailers are considered national treasures for a reason. Teeming with shoppers keeping the cash boxes ringing, the conspicuous consumption of the most exclusive brands and logomania makes for excellent people watching and will suck you in as well. I dare you to visit Harrods and not walk out swinging one of their hunter green shopping bags. Sticker shock got you down when in Harrods or Selfridges? Head to the food halls and prepare to be amazed by the cornucopia of culinary choices. Harrods is the more incredible of the two, pretty sure I ruptured an optic nerve trying to take it all in. There is nothing like these food halls in America and nothing like these two very British institutions.
Like your fashion fast, served up easy peasy, and budget friendly? Then Oxford Street / Oxford Circus is for you. Try not to go on the weekend when the immense crowds will slow you down. Send your bloke to the pub and wear comfortable shoes and clothes easy to change in and out of, you are going to want to move like a fashion ninja to experience the insane amount of choices. Get your fleek on at the Primark store, which is a playground of must haves at incredibly reasonable prices. I can’t wait for the Primark to open in Downtown Crossing this fall; that’s right Boston we are going to have our own Primark, which will be the first one to open in the USA. Topshop’s flagship store is like the hot boyfriend you can never really get over because its just so good, why aren’t the Topshops in America this yummy? Given my obsession perhaps it’s for the best.
Rihanna’s favorite River Island exceeded my expectations especially as a source for interesting accessories and custom jewelry, how I wish there were stores stateside. There is a Zara on every other corner yet the mix of merchandise varies slightly by store making it necessary for me to visit each one. Damn you and thank you Zara, European Zaras trump their sister stores in America every time. Even H&M seems to have upped their game offering merchandise I have never seen on this side of the pond. Festival fashion is currently THE theme in all of these stores so rock on fast fashion groupies.
My favorite places to shop in London are the vintage areas and markets. You’ll love it too if you are all about the hunt for the truly unique and original. Leave the tony neighborhoods of the West End and the madness of the main shopping streets and head to gritty Brick Lane for some of the best fashion vintage shopping on the globe. It’s not posh or pretty, but Brick Lane has a great assortment of vintage stores that offer their wares categorized with British military precision. Prices are in the reasonable range and in the individually owned stores you can feel free to haggle a bit. Blitz was the star store; the assortment and quality of their vintage merchandise blew me away. Expertly curated, make sure you visit the basement for their clearance area where I scored some fringed pieces that are totally on trend, leather and furs, and classic capes that I know will be standouts come the fall. Once you’ve made your way down Brick Lane, be sure to hit nearby Spitafields Market where you can find independent purveyors of fashion both vintage and current. It was love at first site for me when I walked in Collectif. This retro rockabilly boutique was all 40’s and 50’s sex symbol with a new age edge stray cat strut that just won’t quit. Shopping making you thirsty and working a Jack The Ripper fascination? Be sure to stop by The Ten Bells for a pint (or two) before heading back to modern day reality.