Top 10 destinations for affordable fashion in Europe and the UK

Like many other girls (and boys) in the world I love to shop, particularly when you find something so amazingly perfect and cute you just HAVE to have it and also when there’s a chance that nobody at home will have what you find.  But it would be rather ungenerous of me not to share what is now my list of top 10 favourite shops in Paris, Spain and London – believe me, I will be visiting all these again and found some wonderful things in all of them.  Another awesome thing about shopping there is the price, but that is a recurring theme once you leave Australia – everything seems so much less expensive in Europe and the UK (apart from accommodation).  Maybe because we need to get things shipped in, I don’t know, but it’s a terrible crime how expensive fashion is over here.  And another fantastic things about many of these stores is; if you can’t get there they can get it here!

  1. Amichi – Spain.  At the top of my list for a very good reason.  Amichi is Spain’s first fashion franchise; since its opening in 1985 it has gone international (not far but still international) and can also apparently be found all over Spain.  If you love scarves (which is something the Spanish and I most definitely have in common) you will be in heaven.  Also, if you love cute bathers, gorgeous (not simpering) floral prints, sassy knits, up to date European fashion that anyone can wear, shoes and bags then this is certainly the place for you.  Unfortunately I was limited in the amount I could purchase by my hiking pack size – although I also found a handy carry-on bag in the store which I quickly filled.
  2. Primark – UK and Europe.  Hold on to your handbags girls because this store is like nothing we have in Aus.  Actually if you take Target, K-mart, Myer and Best and less you might sort of get the right idea but you’d still be missing out.  They have everything you could possibly dream of fashion-wise from the incredibly trashy and tacky to clothes that could be found on the international catwalk and for very little.  Think end of season sales prices only all year and slightly better.  For example, printed T-shirts for 2 Pounds, Full size umbrella’s with cute prints for 3 pounds etc.  Yes, this is a shop to go nuts in and with sizes ranging from 6 to 20 they fit more people than the average store at home.  With several floors in one huge building at the Oxford St Store all this is very easily accomplished – with a store this large and so much on offer anyone can find something fabulous.
  3. Topshop – UK and USA.  More upmarket than Primark (well, that’s a little bit of an understatement) Topshop is sort of like a department store for more well known and expensive designers.  It is similar to Myer and David Jones only far more funky and tailored to the younger end of the shopping spectrum – and they offer student discounts!  They are also one of the London stockists of handbags by my favourite UK designer NICA.  It was a tough decision but I only went home with 2 new handbags.  NICA are also available at David Jones but there are only a few designs available and their online store does not ship to Australia – Topshop does!
  4. Etam – France.  Every time I go to Paris I come home with at least one thing from Etam.  They have normal women’s clothing stores and a separate lingerie and bathers store.  Yes girls and boys, French Lingerie and bathers and for a rather reasonable cost.  I bought a gorgeous turquoise bikini for 28 Euros, usually a pair of bathers in Australia can cost upwards of $80 (don’t be surprised to pay over $100) so naturally I was rather excited.
  5. Sephora – Apparently most places other than Australia.  Sephora is THE place to go for inexpensive and reasonably decent quality make-up, perfume and body care products.  They stock everything from classic essentials to whatever is in vogue and a lot of it (apart from the perfume) is exclusive to the store – check out Tokidoki, so incredibly cute I could have bought every eyeshadow set.  They also offer workshops, classes and makeovers.
  6. Claire’s – Europe, USA, Canada and UK.  If you love your accessories this is the place for you.  They have things that suit pretty much any taste from the prissy princess to the goth or punk rocker in us all.  If I hadn’t bought so many scarves already I would have come home with a lot more pairs of earrings, necklaces and all sorts of other things than I did.  And if I hadn’t done most of my present shopping previously I would have been able to find something for everyone in this store.
  7. Zara – most places (including Europe, UK, USA, Australia).  While not exactly expensive there are things out there that are similar and cheaper BUT you have to look for them.  Zara makes European fashion more affordable for the masses.  The only problem is that due to the differences in fashion dictated by the powers that be you can’t find the exact same things in each Zara between countries.  So if you see something you like in one, grab it, because chances are you wont see it again.
  8. Marks and Spencer – UK.  Marks and Spencer is far more upmarket than the likes of Primark.  It is similar to David Jones in Australia, so slightly more posh than Myer but by no means exclusive.  Like Primark and most stores in the UK there is much more range in normally available sizes than we have in Australia – ranging from size 6-20 (or above if you’re lucky).  I bought the most gorgeous watermelon coloured trench at M&S which is very exciting as winter in Melbourne tends to bring out the black, charcoal grey, grey and (on a really rare and crazy day) beige in everyone’s wardrobes.  I hate blending in with the crowd in Winter, why make yourself feel drab and cold and boring along with everyone else when you can bring a little sunshine in with a bright coat.  But like all good department stores M&S have everything, not just coats, and they stock it all year round as I found when I turned a corner near the coats and found myself in amongst the bathers.
  9. C&A – Europe and UK.  C&A’s mass produced fashion is more suited to the more sophisticated taste.  That is if you can find anything.  It’s pretty hit and miss in here although at first glance it appears that there is more than enough variety.  It is as if the clothing department from Target was removed from a store (minus the incredibly trendy younger section) and given its own store.  Don’t get me wrong, I found some beautiful coats in the store but not much else.  The size range is still broad here but there was little in the way of classic pieces and what I could see that was on offer trended more towards style en masse.  But hey, it might have just been the store I was in and there were still some good things to find amongst the dross and the prices were very reasonable.
  10. H&M – Europe, UK, USA and the Middle East.  H&M is like the younger, funkier sibling of C&A.  If I could compare it to anything we have in Australia it would be a mixture of Supre and the funkier section of Target.  It’s cheap and if you’re not careful it can trend towards the slightly tacky but there are gems to be found if you can be bothered looking hard enough through the masses of similarly styled and coloured clothes that wouldn’t really suit anyone over the age of 18, over a size 10 or if you aren’t overly choosy.
  11. I know I said 10 but Harrods really does deserve a mention even if it’s only for their gift department that have everything Harrods and London themed that you could possibly imagine.  The Knightsbridge store is HUGE and tres posh.  They have bathroom attendants and special bathrooms exclusively for the use of people who have spent over a certain amount.  Their sales are rather spectacular and the perfume and makeup departments are a thing of beauty (if you can get through the clouds of scent and sales attendants politely trying to spray you with so-and-so’s latest).  If you only visit one store in London and have no intention of doing any actual shopping (which kinda defeats the purpose of my post) it should be this one just to visit the gift department and say hello to the incredibly gorgeous life-sized bears

4 Comments (+add yours?)

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    Aug 06, 2013 @ 14:25:44

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  2. Tinkerbelle (@Lillyheart999)
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 23:46:44

    i love sephora! its so cool but its hard to find in england now, i normally get it in france or the USA.


    • Claire
      Oct 12, 2011 @ 09:51:11

      I heard it’s getting hard to find there, at lest you can get it shipped to you, we don’t even have that option unless you get one of those re-posting services. Unfortunately that happens a lot over here, I guess everyone thinks we’re too far to ship to!


  3. Trackback: Why London is awesome « Walking For Wisdom

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