Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Dolly Rocker Girl's Guide to London: Stores

I'm in love with shopping. And to quote both the Shangri-Las and the New York Dolls, "when I say I'm in love, you best believe I'm in love, L-U-V." It's a love affair that blossomed early on in the twenty-plus years I've been alive, and it is one of the reasons that I live and breathe as a happy, healthy person on this earth. Shopping lifts me up where I belong, it's the wind beneath my wings. It's probably the greatest love I will ever know.
So of course I've spent the majority of my time in London seeking out various vintage shops, stalls at markets, department stores, and boutiques to grasp what British style is all about. I've been told (and I readily agreed!) that I dress in a rather London way, more so than I dress American. I certainly do not dress like I am from Dallas, where heels, tight clothes, and big hair reigns supreme. Limp locks, patterned frocks and scuffed up shoes work quite well for me! 
I can certainly get more specific about the stores that I like if people would prefer to know great vintage shops or hole-in-the-wall boutiques, but these are my ultimate shopping destinations. 

My Five Favorite Stores:
1. Topshop (Oxford Circus): a mega-store if there ever was one. Five floors of glorious shoes, jewelry, accessories, and clothes - for both gals and guys - Topshop is my go-to place when I need something fantastic but I'm not sure what. The bottom floor houses up-and-coming designers that are really diverse in aesthetics -- from The Ragged Priest to Oh My Love, there's no limit to what Topshop will offer.
2. Dolly Dare (Spitalfields): the British answer to Betsey Johnson's wild fashions, over-the-top girliness, and maximalist approach to dressing. I admittedly went into the store because it had 'Dolly' in its name, but I am so glad that I did - I picked up the most amazing slinky black velvet minidress that was trimmed with long fringe and covered with zig-zagged gold glitter. It's the ultimate rock star dress. Go to Dolly Dare for lace, ruffles and ruching, flouncy skirts, dresses with petticoats, and shoes by brands like Irregular Choice.
3. Selfridges (Oxford St): one of the many massive stores in London (from Harrods and House of Fraser to Debenhams and Liberty, the list goes on and on), Selfridges is like my heaven. If you can't afford the Balenciaga and Missoni upstairs, check out the Topshop and Miss Selfridge sections on the lower floors. That way you won't break the bank, but you still get one of those traffic-stopping yellow shopping bags. I've had lunch a few times at Dolly's, the resident tea cafĂ© for the department store that was named after the Dolly sisters, both lovers of store founder Harry Gordon Selfridge.
4. Mary Quant (Chelsea): this store is sparsely stocked (which is true of most every designer boutique) but there's a whole lot to want in the pristinely white Chelsea store. Classic Quant designs like wool shift dresses and miniskirts hang alongside more contemporary-inspired pieces to create a whole collection that any stylish girl would be insane not to want.
5. What Katie Did (Notting Hill): this retro-inspired lingerie company has its home in Portobello Green, a covered area of shops on Portobello Road. Popular among celebs -- the brand has been rocked by everyone from Kate Moss to Gwyneth Paltrow and was the exclusive supplier of the fab undergarments in My Week With Marilyn -- What Katie Did offers comfortable but luxurious items like bullet bras, high-waisted knickers, satin robes, marabou mules, and corsets.

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