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.
Ever heard of a Tom Plumbs Blues? Our friends at Church share their recipe for this gin cocktail, which is perfect for the summer. Watch here to see what pairs best with this stirred but never shaken craft cocktail.
THE SCENE The Upper East Side. A luxury streamlined visit.
THE MUSTS: Ultimate destinations – all within 10 blocks.
THE EATS – Day One: Rev your engine with – Ralph’s coffee at the Polo Store 5th & 55th – THE best cup in the city – An exclusive blend of Nicaraguan, Peruvian, and Columbian beans. Pair it with a cured salmon sandwich on country bread with watercress and preserved lemons, and an all American chocolate walnut brownie (A secret recipe from Mr. Lauren’s mother-in-law.)
Day Two: Breakfast- La Viand Coffee Shop at 61st & Madison – real authentic diner for locals – can’t beat the eggs over easy, bacon, rye toast and hash browns – in and out in 20 minutes!
Dinner- Le Bilbouquet at 61st between Madison & Park – chic neighborhood spot –order the signature endive salad with granny apple, candied walnuts and Roquefort and the Branzino –practice your French with the uber charming maître d’s.
THE COCKTAIL – Sirios at the Pierre – sip the “PEAR SE” –grey goose pear, alchemia ginger vodka, pear puree, solerno, lemon juice or the “Bitter Love” – a potion of Greenhook Ginsmith gin, Campari, strawberry puree, lime juice.
THE SHOPPING – Bergdorf’s on 5th Ave for Old world experience, Barney’s on Madison Ave for New world experience, and Ralph Lauren Women’s store on Madison for a combination of the two– The Beaux Art Hotel Particular Style Building is a recent addition to the street – All three are a part of the true luxury retail fabric of New York.
THE SHOW – “The River” – Starring the charismatic Hugh Jackman at the Circle in the Square at 50th –get “hooked” on this darkly romantic tale about a fisherman in a remote cabin and the 2 women he entertains there. 1 hour 25 minutes with no intermission.
Your childhood memories of Barnum & Bailey this is not. The Harvard Square performance space turns into a jumping jive where guests tipple cocktails while beholding the gravity-defying antics of The Boston Circus Guild. From aerialists to jugglers, sassy burlesque dancers to a live band, the multi-sensory experience brings a bit of vaudevillian spectacle to modern-day Cambridge — and exposes audiences to new and unusual art forms.
WHEN: January 14 — 17
During the summer meet festivities at the Saratoga Race Course, the thoroughbreds are the stars who pack the small town of Saratoga Springs with horse racing enthusiasts and tourists. But after the last race of the day, the restaurants and bars become the main attraction, and finding great food and a party is easy. Just keep in mind that most places during this time of year are very busy, but getting a table isn’t impossible.
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There are plenty of perks to working one of those schedules where you have a day off during the week: you get to see the latest summer blockbuster with the theater all to yourself, hit up the beach when it’s not uncomfortably packed, frequent those incredibly hip weeknight-only dance parties, etc. But with the perks, come the drawbacks and for me the absolute worst is missing my favorite meal: brunch.
Sure you can go to one of those breakfast-served-all-day diners, but it just isn’t the same. Brunch is a celebration of your day off, your escape from the doldrums of the workweek. The magic is lost on a Thursday night, frankly. I had resigned myself bitterly to my fate– that I’d only enjoy fabulous brunches while on vacation–when finally the universe provided for me: Trina’s Starlite Lounge.
Every Monday Trina’s hosts an “industry” brunch, open to all, but created especially for those of us who normally miss out on weekend fun because we’re too busy supplying said fun for all the 9-5ers out there. With indulgent offerings like home-made pop tarts (when I went they were apricot with strawberry glaze, AMAZING!), famous chicken-n-waffles, and original cocktails like The Adirondack, pictured above (yes, it is garnished with chocolate covered bacon), it’s enough to make the Monday through Friday crowd downright jealous.
So you’ll excuse me while I savor my delicious, new-found schadenfreude. I’ll be ready to share if you happen to find yourself off next Monday.
Every Monday, noon-4
Trina’s Starlite Lounge
3 Beacon St, Somerville
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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