Of all the fashion capitals, London is best known for its fashion-forward style, electric mix of influences and trendsetting fashionistas. It has a wealth of great shopping areas, with funky high streets, designer flagships and tucked-away boutiques and vintage stores. However, having so much choice can be overwhelming, even for hardened city dwellers, never mind whirlwind visitors on a weekend stay in London. What you need is a few friendly pointers to save you a bit of the time and trudgery involved in city shopping sprees.
So we’ve asked personal stylist Maura McGuirk of Style Magpie, the bespoke lifestyle consultancy, to do the legwork for you. A former buyer for Jaeger and LK Bennett with a design stint at Caroline Charles under her belt, fashion graduate Maura has spent hours browsing, researching and checking out different areas to find London’s best bars, hottest clubs, hairdressers, facialists, make-up artists and shopping hotspots for her style-hungry clients – here’s her insider low-down on what to buy and where… If you’re lucky, you may be able to snap up a few sales bargains while you’re at it!
For knitwear, head down to John Smedley on Brook Street for the finest knits, or Brora on the Kings Road for a gorgeous range of Scottish cashmere with a contemporary twist.
John Smedley (020 7495 2222)
24 Brook Street, London W1K 5DG
Brora (020 7352 3697)
344 Kings Rd, London SW3 5UR
(More branches on eg Marylebone High Street and Ledbury Road)
My favourite one-stop shop for both Mr and Mrs Smith is Jaeger Regent Street – the Jaeger London collection will not fail to disappoint; so many well-cut, timeless British classics that always nod to the season’s biggest trends.
Jaeger (020 7979 1100)
200-206 Regent Street, London W1B 5BN
If you need to keep the big chill at bay, make for MaxMara on Bond Street for gorgeous winter cover-ups. Mr Smiths should head to the lower ground floor at Jaeger on Regent Street, and Mrs Smiths should head up to the 1st floor for beautiful elegant coats. Both Mr and Mrs Smith should check out Burberry on Brompton Road – as the original experts in outerwear, they know a thing or two about stylish weatherproofing.
MaxMara (020 7491 4748)
153 New Bond Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2OE
Burberry (020 7968 0000)
2 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7QN
To solve all of Mrs Smith’s daytime and workwear dilemmas, head to Banana Republic’s flagship on Regent Street (where you can always pack your Mr off to the in-store lounge for a coffee if he starts sighing), Bottega Veneta (Sloane Street) and By Malene Birger (at department store Fenwick on Bond Street). All offer great separates and day-to-night dresses that will see you through from the office to dinner or cocktails.
Banana Republic (020 7758 3550)
224 Regent Street, London W1B 3BR
Bottega Veneta (020 7838 9394)
33 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9NR
Fenwick (020 7629 9161)
63 New Bond Street, London, W1A 3BS
Add a bit of evening glamour to your wardrobe: invest in Les Chiffoniers sequinned leggings or jacket (this season’s must-have pieces) – available at Browns (South Molton Street) or Matches – or bejewelled shoes by Miu Miu (at the humungous new Westfield shopping centre). While you’re at Westfield, Mr Smith should go to David Mayer Naman: the first store for this Italian brand in the UK is sure to be followed by more, as where stylish menswear is concerned, it is exactly what the UK’s high street is missing!
Matches (020 7221 0255)
60-64 Ledbury Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 2AJ
Miu Miu (020 8743 0022)
Unit 1015, Westfield, Ariel Way, White City, London W12 7SL
Accessories make an outfit, so head down to Jocasi on Foubert Place (off Carnaby Street) to get affordable leather pieces that you won’t see everywhere else.
Jocasi (020 7734 2828)
19 Fouberts Place, Carnaby Street, London W1F 7QE
Reflecting the credit crunch, big designer ‘it’ bags are no longer fashionable: understated, beautifully made handbags are much more desirable – Coccinelle has a new store is opening soon at Westfield; if you can’t wait till then there is a store on the Kings Road.
Coccinelle (020 7730 7657)
13 Duke of York Square, Kings Road, London SW3 4LY
Not-to-be-missed shopping experiences include Ralph Lauren’s flagship store on Bond Street – the four-storey building will transport you to a lodge in Aspen – and venerable department store Liberty (left), set in a beautiful Tudor-period building restored to create a fantastic shopping environment: they even have a concierge service.
Ralph Lauren (020 7535 4600)
1 New Bond Street, Mayfair, London W1S 3RL
Liberty (020 7734 1234)
Great Marlbourgh Street, London W1B 5AH
Under-the-radar boutiques that make the ‘burbs worth a visit include Galleria Conti in Battersea and Eclipse in Dulwich. As well as welcoming staff with unparalleled knowledge, both boutiques offer harder-to-come-by pieces from great brands, such as Luella to Farhi at Galleria Conti, and Missoni and MaxMara at Eclipse – crucially, they really know their fashion and their customers. It’s hardly a secret destination, but I’m also a fan of Matches branches include Richmond, near the Bingham hotel, Wimbledon, Notting Hill and Marylebone High Street).
Galleria Conti (020 7228 4077)
22 Battersea Rise, London SW11 1EE
Eclipse (020 8761 9600)
92 Park Hall Rd, Dulwich, London SE21 8BW
(020 8332 9733)
13 Hill Street, Richmond TW9 1SX
Shopping for vintage? Aside from the obvious (Portobello Market for antiques and accessories), Mrs Smith should go to Circa on Fulham Road for beautifully and lovingly restored gowns – this is boutique vintage shopping at its best. If you prefer a good old rummage, then both Mr and Mrs Smith will love One of a Kind on Portobello Road. You may find yourself fighting over pieces with a celebrity, as this is a favorite haunt for many famous faces. One of my best-kept secrets is Kerry Taylor Auctions, which is a source of some truly great vintage finds: you can check out the lots online ahead of your trip, or in person at the warehouse in Dulwich before the auction.
Circa Vintage (020 7736 5038)
64 Fulham High Street, London SW6 3LQ
One of a Kind (020 7792 5284)
253 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London W11 1LR
Kerry Taylor Auctions (020 8676 4600)
Unit C25, Parkhall Road Trading Estate, 40 Martell Road, London SE21 8EN
If you need a break after all that shopping, check out London-based designers online. Hats by Cressida has the most amazing range of hats and fascinators made to order or from a readymade selection: this is really worth checking out if you need something to top off a special-occasion look. Many London icons such as Topshop, Browns and Matches have online stores, too… so happy browsing!
Maura McGuirk, Style Magpie
(0780 764 1570; firstname.lastname@example.org)