London – one of the fashion capitals of the world. Its iconic streets are catwalks for the likes of internationally admired style icons such as Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham. As a visitor inspired by the London look, you might want to sample it for yourself. But where do you start?
London has an overwhelming number of fabulous clothes shopping opportunities. I lived in this city for around 10 years and it took me a while to become familiar with all the different clothing lines and their locations. It was a bit of a blur at first and I pounded a lot of pavement – I had many misses before I got the hits.
So what if you're new to London and only there for short time? You can explore and see what you find, but you might come across a lot of stuff that isn't really your style. Alternatively you can use my guide below and quickly find the stores that will suit your look and budget.
Most tourists know about the general areas for shopping in London, such as Oxford Street and Portobello Rd, but I'm going to tell you about the individual clothing brands, the 'high street' labels as they are called. You'll find most of these in central London and in several locations across Britain.
There are numerous clothing brands but I've chosen to focus on the British ones I've had most success with. The majority of these companies deliver internationally if you find yourself wanting more (if you're anything like me, you will!).
Here's my quick reference guide:
Probably the most well-known British high street brand outside of Britain, Topshop now has stores in several locations around the world. Targeted at the 18–30ish set, it's known for being highly trend focussed and perhaps even a little edgy at times. Those who like to rock a more masculine look might also find what they're after here.
The Topshop flagship store on Oxford Street is a must see – a multi-level jungle of the latest trends where you can easily get lost, lost in pleasure! The store stocks a number of boutique labels – Kate Moss even had her own line here at one stage.
Style: Trendy and slightly edgy
Price range: The average dress will cost you around £40–60 (70–110 AUD)
I love this brand for its feminine feel – the designs often feature lace and frills. A lot of their dresses would be perfect to wear to an afternoon tea party. The label also holds regular sales where you can grab yourself some cute bargains if you're lucky.
Style: Cute and ladylike
Price range: The average dress will cost you around £25–30 (45–55 AUD)
New Look stocks a range of colourful on-trend items, often with a feminine twist. They are generally inexpensive, but might only last a season after a few washes. If you have a stylish eye, you'll pick out some great pieces – they often have some cute shoes. If there's a sale on you'll get some things very cheaply.
Style: Colourful, trendy, affordable
Price range: The average dress will cost you around £20 (36 AUD)
Primark caused a huge stir when it arrived on the fashion scene several years ago. Known for producing up-to-the-minute fashion very cheaply, this is a place where you can find a real bargain. The only drawback is that the materials used to construct the garments are not often of the greatest quality, so the items don't usually have a long life. However, my friends and I have bought the occasional piece from here that has been a staple in our closet for years. It's just down to luck really.
Style: Inexpensive versions of the latest trends
Price range: The average dress will cost you around £13 (24 AUD)
Other stores to consider
I also recommend Miss Selfridge and Jane Norman for ladies in the 18–35 age range (dresses around £40–75). Jane Norman requires a toned figure as many of the garments are figure hugging. Wallis and Debenhams are also worth a look – they probably cater for an older age bracket, maybe 25 years and up.
If you're looking for high quality garments with great style, Hobbs and Reiss have some lovely stuff, particularly for the office.
Selfridges is also worth a look if you'd like to check out designer labels. If you want to go further upmarket, head down to Old Bond Street and New Bond Street where you'll find all the international design houses.
London has some great markets, including Spitalfields and Portobello, where you'll find vintage wares, unique handmade items and quirky stuff. Fledgling designers often start off selling here so you might snap up a piece from the next big name in fashion. Camden Market is good for t-shirts – Camden also has a few shops that cater to the alternative or gothic look.
Prices in general
The great thing about shopping in the UK is that items are much less expensive than in some other countries such as Australia. I've bought some great items for £10 (20 AUD) for which I've received many a compliment.
I hope you enjoy creating your very own London look. Happy shopping!