|Jumper: £29.99, H&M (in store now). Leather skirt: £160, Hush. Bag: Sophie Hulme. Shoes: Next (old).|
I haven't been properly shopping at Bicester Village since I was at Uni in Birmingham. We used to stop on the way at the beginning of term and I spent the best part of my student loan on Ralph Lauren polos and Karen Millen dresses. So when we had a wedding to attend nearby, we planned a stopover in the Oxfordshire shopping mecca. There is even a new train station, Bicester Town, which brings you directly to the Village (and a shuttle bus that picks up from Bicester North).
And boy, has it changed...
Firstly, the food offerings are real game-changers. Villandry, Hix's Fish Dog van and the newest opening - Soho House's Farmshop. It just means you can really make much more out of your day than a simple shopping trip (my husband was pleasantly surprised!). Plus also, for a Sunday, it wasn't too crowded - they also allow for walk-ins.
Now, back to the shopping. We all love outlet shopping...the feeling of getting a coveted designer bargain - but what really is a bargain? I always think if you wanted to buy a Chloe bag at the original price, you might as well look at Bicester as they have great discounts. But what if, like me, you have a bit of money to spend but within reason. Say, £200 - are there any bargains to be had? I decided to investigate (it's a tough job)....
Yep, there was nothing in Stella McCartney - but it was lovely browsing the store....and the kidswear is worth looking at.
|Grey coat of my dreams reduced to £500|
The key in Bicester is to have a plan...if you have a certain budget, make a list of shops you can afford to go into. For £200 I knew I wanted to get one amazing item, rather than a few little things - so accessories were on my agenda.
What I love about Bicester is that it doesn't feel like 'bargain' shopping, all these stores are beautifully merchandised, the staff are always polite and you don't feel intimidated (see the list of brands here). Nothing is strewn over rails and there is no bargain bin rummaging - so you can make a calm, collected decision. As much as I love heels, I knew I don't really get enough use out of them to spend a lot of money. I was after flats - preferably ones that will make me feel up to date fashion-wise but also that I can walk in. So the next stop was Marni.
I was never a Marni fan before I started at Red and the Fashion Director, Nicola, was a self described 'Marni Freak'! And now I get it - androgynous, sporty yet classic clothing with a bit of bling thrown on most things. I've always loved the pieces that have come in for shoots etc but never actually owned any - was this my chance?
Silver, (almost) flat and this season's Mary-Jane style - these are different to anything in my wardrobe and would look great with a pair of girlfiend jeans (I love the Topshop ones) and a classic grey coat.
So I move to The White Company, which always makes me happy. If you, like me, love all things grey and white and would one day love a White Company life, then this store is definitely worth going to - classic white bedding, candles (which I stock up on presents for 'impossible to buy for' people), dressing gowns and baby clothes for gifts. I bought a hand towel for £6, which for once, my husband approved of the purchase!
Then we stopped at Sandro. I had high hopes for this store, but weirdly, I found it a bit pricey - nothing within my price-range - coats, although gorgeous, were around £275.
And Tory Burch's leather accessories are worth checking out - this bag (which would go with everything) was £159.
SO....what did I decide on??
|Jumper: £29.99, H&M (in store now). Leather skirt: £160, Hush. Bag: Sophie Hulme. Shoes: Next (old). Sunglasses: £90, Ray-Ban|
Well, it had to be the Marnis...yes they were £20 over my limit but sometimes....it's okay. I could think of at least 10 times I could wear them this month alone! And a stand out flat shoe is ALWAYS a good investment for me, just ask En Brogue blogger, Hannah.
Next time you're considering a visit to Bicester, don't let budget hold you back, it's such a wonderful day out, open late most nights (8pm Mon - Weds and 9pm Thurs - Sat) and the feeling you get from bagging that designer piece (even if it is something as simple as a Le Creuset pot - which is also a v good store if you're in the market) is priceless.
This post was in collaboration with Bicester Village (but my trip was overdue anyway).