Friday, April 22, 2011

Retail Therapy

Since my attempt to find affordable summer clothing and comfortable sandals on Regent/Oxford Street was largely unsuccessful, I decided to take drastic measures yesterday.  I went to the mall.  Not just any mall, but the ginormous Westfield London Shopping Centre, just northwest of Kensington.  They have several shoe stores, including Schuh and a Skechers store, so I was hopeful I could find the sandals I'd seen on Wednesday in my size.

The mall was relatively easy to get to on the tube.  I just took the District line back up to Notting Hill Gate -- same trip I'd made on Tuesday -- and transferred to the Central line.  From there it was only 2 stops to the unfortunately-named Shepherd's Bush station, where I emerged within sight of the mega-mall.
Westfield London
restaurant row leading to main entrance
There was a pedestrian plaza lined with restaurants leading up to the main entrance, and plenty of shoppers, even at noon on a Thursday.  Once I found my way inside and located a map, I decided I'd better fortify myself with some lunch and headed for the food court area.  There's no shortage of places to eat in this mall, and the food court area alone had more than a dozen options to choose from.  I eventually settled on Mexican, lured by the promise of homemade "ice tea" on their menu.  I ordered chicken tacos and asked if the tea was sweetened.  I was told it was, and offered a sample.  It was quite sweet, and when I discovered that they did not actually have any ice, I sighed and opted for bottled water instead.  The tacos weren't bad, but the corn tortillas they served them on disintegrated after the first bite, so I had to eat them with a knife and fork.  I have learned my lesson.  Next time, I'll go for Asian or Middle Eastern food.

After lunch I located the Schuh store and asked to try on the sandals I'd seen at the other store.  They must be selling like hotcakes, because they didn't have them in my size, either.  I tried a slightly different style that I didn't like quite as much, but at least they had one pair left in my size, and asked them to hold them for me in case I didn't find anything I liked better elsewhere.

Once again, there was a dismaying lack of affordable sale merchandise to choose from, but I found that the Debenham's department store was having a storewide 20% off sale for the Easter holiday.  I still haven't figured out how the clothing is organized in department stores here -- it seems to be by brand, but then you can find women's clothing and shoes on several different floors instead of all on one level.  But I eventually found some decent casual clothing that even came in petite sizes.  I tried to keep under my budget of £20 or less per item and make sure I wasn't duplicating anything I already owned.  After a few trips to the dressing room, I eventually settled on a purple floral t-shirt and a pair of dark brown cotton cargo pants that could be converted to cropped pants (not by zipping the legs off, but by rolling them up and securing the cuffs with a tab).  Those two items set me back about $75 -- on sale!

I stopped for a scoop of gelato -- hard to resist all the treats, and it seemed a slightly better option than a crepe or cupcake -- and eventually found the Skechers store.  They had a big cardboard cutout of Joe Montana in the store, so I asked one of the sales clerks if she knew who that was.  She was originally from Croatia, but she was able to identify him as an "American Footballer" -- although she agreed that it was unlikely most people in the UK would know who he was.  Their other celebrity endorsement is Kim Kardashian, who she said most of the teenage girls are familiar with.  So sad.  Anyway, they did NOT carry the style of shoe I had seen in the Schuh store, so I tried on a couple other similar styles and eventually settled on one that I found reasonably comfortable and appealing without being too similar to any sandals I already owned.  That set me back another £50.  Sheesh!

I tried to do a quick circuit of both levels of the mall to get an overview of what else was there, but I decided to avoid the entire "Village" section, which was more upscale shopping (Prada, Jimmy Choo, etc).  I finally ran out of steam around 5:30 and took the tube home, picking up a pizza for dinner at Tesco on the way back to the apartment.  So my trip to the mall was a limited success -- I found what I needed, but ended up spending a lot more than I had planned.  The bargain hunter in me felt somewhat defeated, but at least I won't be roasting in my fleece pullover and clogs in this 75-degree weather.


  1. So while you were shopping (or actually, more like while you were getting ready for bed), I was interviewing Ewan McGregor. So for once, my day was cooler than yours.


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