WARNING: grab some snacks and a drink, this is an extremely long post
Over a year ago now I wrote a blog post called ‘My Review of the Shops’. Little did I know that it would be such a popular post with over 3,000 views to date. Looking back on it now makes me cringe and want to change the little grammatical errors and weirdly phrased sentences. However, I’m not updating the original or deleting it because I think it’s important (for myself) to look back on my progression and ever changing writing style. Instead I’m writing another review for this year. As a person who enjoys and takes part in shopping on a regular basis I feel like I’m pretty qualified to share my experiences. Whether you’re coming to the UK and are wondering what shops to hit up or you’re simply comparing observations I hope this extremely long post is somewhat useful to you!
I feel like Primark is a very controversial shop. Many people overlook Primark clothes on the basis it’s cheap clothing – there’s some sort of stigma attached to it. Although I disagree with the politics in regards to Primark and labour pay, working standards, etc – I’m not going to lie, I do shop there (eeek don’t kill me). If you look past the hectic shop floor and dodge the crowds who generally seem rather irritating (I do not understand why people can’t pick up something which THEY’VE dropped…grrrr) then you can find a bargain. Primark definitely takes a lot of rummaging and you can easily waste an hour or so in there and only come out with one item. My latest Primark purchase was a gorgeous yellow floral skort. To buy this it would normally have been £7 but I got it for £4 because it was mis-labelled – YAY ME! Either way this item was a real bargain and I hope it goes to show that there are some decent clothing items in there.
Described in 3 words: affordable, chaotic, overlooked
Best for: basic pieces (vests, pajamas, plain t-shirts) and the occasional stand out piece
Not so great for: bags and shoes (because they both break pretty easily)
Overall rating: 6/10
If you’ve been reading my blog or watching my youtube videos for a while you’d probably have realised that H&M is my favourite shop on the highstreet. The clothes range from basic basics to slightly more daring (e.g. colourful prints and unusual cuts). It’s such a good value quality shop – I’ve raved about their £14 jeans for the last 6 months but they seriously are one of the best cheap jeans on the market! I think for me, H&M is so amazing because the clothes actually fit me nicely and are cut in a flattering way. H&M have classic designs which will stand the test of time and yet look modern and young to suit such a diverse age range and style group. You certainly won’t see racks on racks of the latest trends but instead staple items which will last through the trends – y’know white t-shirts, pencil skirts and blazers. The shopping experience is generally pretty pleasant, the clothes aren’t tossed round yet there’s definitely no ‘luxury’ in the store.
Described in 3 words: classic, affordable, quality
Best for: the bags and rings are always great. They also do lovely skirts and plain clothing perfect as wardrobe staples.
Not so great for: shoes! Their shoes aren’t bad it’s just the range of them differs greatly from store to store – plus there’s never somewhere to sit down!
Overall rating: 9/10
If I’m honest, I haven’t really shopped in New Look for quite a long time. The selection of clothes in the store seems to be really up and down in my opinion. Sometimes I’ll go into the store and fall in love with every item in there and other times I’ll be super disappointed. I did go in there yesterday though and saw some super gorgeous kimonos which I wish I’d picked up for my holiday but hey ho. I also feel like the New Look prices fluctuate quite a bit, occasionally I feel like I’m getting good value for money but sometimes I’ll pick up a plain top or something and the price tag will be £14.99…. like, what? That’s a plain top! Haha. So overall the New Look experience is quite ‘so so’ depending on the season and also the actual branch you go into. I live near a smaller New Look branch so my opinion is probably teinted slightly – the bigger ones definitely offer more interesting pieces.
Described in 3 words: ‘up and down!’
Best for: interesting tops (e.g. stand out pieces), shoes (they have a massive selection), bags and generally holiday pieces
Not so great for: basics
Overall rating: 7/10
Topshop seems like the ‘it’ shop of the last few years with everybody from 13 year old girls to red carpet celebrities wearing this highstreet brand. Everytime I go in I fall in love with a good 90% of their clothes that it’s got to the point where I either avoid the shop altogether or give myself a strict time limit to my perusing. Their clothes and shoes fit like a glove, feel beautiful and obviously look fab. The saddest part of it all is the usually steep prices to these wonderful garments, but then again it’s definitely worth buying a few select pieces rather than having a wardrobe full of ‘meh’ pieces, right? The Topshop shopping experience isn’t extremely luxury but it does customer services very well – I’ve exchanged items without any fuss and there always have lovely assistants who will happily help. The only slightly irritating thing about Topshop is that at the moment they’re selling a lot of vintage style clothing for extortionate prices which is just laughable – I would definitely recommend going to a true vintage, second hand or charity shop for the true original gems.
Described in 3 words: pricey, interesting, quirky
Best for: I LOVE their jeans (although I’m pretty sure their skinnies don’t last too long). They also have gorgeous dresses and stand out pieces to make any outfit.
Not so great for: wanting to be truly unique and individual and of course for anybody on a tight budget
Overall rating: 8/10
River Island and Zara
I’ve put River Island and Zara into the same bracket because I think they are very similar shops and I don’t own ‘loads’ from either one of them so I can’t comment in lots of detail. I seriously do love everything in both of these shops, the clothes are beautifully made and seem to last the test of time (my mum has passed on some of her old zara pieces to me!). River Island have been doing some lovely vibrant printed pieces at the moment which grab my attention immediately as I walk into the store. I see Zara as a very modern classic type of store. Everything fits beautifully and their tailored pieces are to die for! I find that these shops are the NICEST shops to buy stuff from on the highstreet as I’ve always had such a lovely shopping experience in them. In particularly (I’m not sure if this goes for every store) but the River Island changing rooms are always BEAUTIFULLY designed! The prices of the items in River Island and Zara are obviously steeper than H&M, New Look and Primark but if you can afford it I would definitely recommend buying your statement pieces and classics from these stores…you won’t regret it!
Described in 3 words: classy, gorgeous and vibrant
Best for: everything to be honest! If I had endless money I’d definitely primarily shop in River Island and Zara! I would specifically recommend buying your classic tailored pieces from Zara because they will last you FOREVER.
Not so great for: their basics are quite expensive and I could never part with so much money on things like a vest top or t-shirt… I’d much rather go to H&M and still get one which is good quality.
Overall rating: 9/10
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this years Review of the Shops (it’s been a long one!). If you have any shops which you want me to review…let me know! And if you’re interested in reading last years Review of the Shops then you can go and check that out here…. http://madfashionlover.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/my-review-of-the-shops/