On Saturday, The Irishman and I ventured out of London in our favorite Streetcar Polo and headed towards Oxford to visit Bicester Village. It's sort of local legend here in London, being nearly 1.5 hours away by both car and train - a mecca of shopping where bewildering deals can be had if you're brave enough to face hoards of Asian tourists and girls from up North.
I've known about Bicester Village for a while now and really haven't ever had the desire to go. It was actually The Irishman who wanted to go - he has a new job now that requires him to wear more suits, and all of his dress shirts look a mite raggedy - and I think he figured that if we went there and he was forced to shop in a confined area, it might not be that bad.
And... it wasn't really, but it also wasn't pleasant. I haven't been outlet shopping in a long time, but I never particularly liked it. I'm a pretty average size in clothes and shoes, so anything good that's a good price is rarely available in my size. Yes, it was crowded - for some shops you had to wait in line just to get in! But on the upside, there were some seriously good labels there: Diane von Furstenberg, Vivienne Westwood, Bally, theory. Which brings me to my biggest turnoff: clothing in the UK is expensive, full stop. I am often turned off from buying anything really expensive here from the high street or a designer because I'm convinced I can get it 20-30% in the US with the exchange rate. Sure there are exceptions, but a silk DKNY dress for £65 at the outlet is no bargain; I can probably go to Macy's with some coupons and get it for $40. The prices at the outlet weren't that great on most things, and obviously most of the fashion was last season. So towards the end of the day, I was pretty much over it.
So verdict? The Irishman got a lot of stuff, exactly what he was looking for: suits, shirts, ties, a pair of shoes. Me? I got some baby and birthday gifts. Was it worth the trip? If I had a really fancy event to go to, I might consider it to splurge on a Matthew Williamson floor length gown (RRP £1,000, sold for £555) or maybe to get an Aquascutum raincoat (I tried on a few lovely raincoats, but nothing was in my size, of course). Would I go again? Maybe, in like 2 years, or as part as a weekend away in the country - it's near enough to Oxford, Cheltenham, and the Cotswolds that you could definitely fit it in if you have a car. But like any discount center, you have to be crafty and shrewd to sniff out the best deals - otherwise it's just a big mall.