On Friday my mum and I headed up to London for our annual Christmas shopping trip. Instead of the usual rushing around and trying to fit everything into one day, we decided to stay overnight to make sure we could do everything we wanted to. We picked a fairly central hotel located on Tottenham Court Road, right next to Warren Street tube station for easy travelling. It literally is 10 steps away from the tube station entrance!
Just down the road from the hotel, in Windmill Street, is the fabulous, newly relocated, Revival Retro. I went to their previous shop a few years ago and this is such an improvement on the old place. They have so much room to spread everything out and the volume of stock is so much better.
The minute we walked in the two ladies in the shop were incredibly welcoming, chatting away and asking if I needed any help. I wasn’t after one of their stunning party dresses (I’ll be wearing my gorgeous green Stop Staring dress this year as I’ve only worn it once so far!) but I had seen a blouse I really liked on their website and was relieved to find one hanging on a rail. However, it was a size 12 and it looked a bit too large for me but I thought I’d try it anyway.
As my mum went to sit down near the shoes I spotted a tan coloured pair of lace up shoes, much like what I have been after for quite some time. I bought a pair from Primark about 5 years ago, which cost me about £6, and I have worn and worn them, hence why they are now falling to pieces. It’s actually amazing they’ve lasted this long! I really need to replace them and I was so excited to see this pair. Unfortunately, after they had a quick check out the back, I was told they didn’t have my size (sad face!) but they did have them in navy blue (happy face!). I tried them on and fell in love with them straight away. Okay, sold!
As I was going to try the blouse on, one of the lovely ladies asked me if I would try on her favourite dress, The Taylor, for her to see. Whilst blushing, I agreed and said a size 12 would probably be the right size (I’m generally a 10 up top, but 12 on the hips). Well, when I tried it on, it was far too big. I love this shop! The next size down fitted perfectly and we were trying all sorts of accessories with it before my mum insisted on taking a photo of me in it in front of their beautiful Christmas tree.
I eventually tried the blouse on but it really was way too big and I probably could’ve done with a size 8! Did I tell you how much I love this shop?! After getting changed I went to pay for the shoes and suddenly realised I still had one of their sparkly necklaces on. I was so embarrassed. I could’ve gone around all day without realising I had that on and I would’ve been mortified. I’m so glad we spotted it before I left.
We then headed through Soho towards Oxford Street and stopped off along the way for lunch at a place called Itsu. I’d never come across them before but its all healthy food such as sushi, noodles and wraps full of vegetables, superfoods and protein. Why can’t more places like this exist everywhere else, rather than McDonald’s on every corner?
Eventually, after stopping off at a few quirky shops, we reached Carnaby Street. By this time the weather had turned miserable so, unfortunately, this shot of their amazingly sparkly headphone decorations is rather gloomy but it did look stunning.
Back in the 90s Carnaby Street was the place I headed to in London, stopping off at Shelley’s to checkout the latest Doc Martin designs, before heading to the goth and hippy shops that seemed to dominate this street back then. However, now I just walk through it on my way to Liberty’s as it has nothing different or special about it anymore.
Just before we reached Liberty’s, the place we always head to at Christmas for their amazing decorations, we were stopped by a lovely lady called Maureen who was collecting for Oxfam. She was gushing about the way I looked, how she loved the feminine styles of the 50s and how fantastic it was that some of us chose to capture the spirit of this in our style today. She even gave me a massive hug! Needless to say, flattery will get you everywhere, and I couldn’t walk away without donating.
Unfortunately, both my mum and I were rather disappointed with Liberty’s selection this year as most of it was just run of the mill hanging decorations. There wasn’t anything unusual or striking and there were very few ornaments or larger pieces, just thousands of tree decorations. We didn’t buy anything in there, which hasn’t happened in a long time.
After we left we headed up to Oxford Street, stopping off at John Lewis, where I bought a gorgeous knitted stocking for my mantel, and M&S, before enjoying the beautiful Selfridges windows. Their theme this year is fairy tales, with each window representing a different story. Some were a little harder to figure out than others but each one was so beautifully done. The one above is based on Cinderella as she’s surrounded by as many ‘slippers’ as she could wish for.
This was my favourite one, purely because it has an old Mini in it, but I don’t think it was actually supposed to be a fairy tale. It seems to represent Father Christmas getting lost in London, who has ditched the reindeers and sleigh for a very apt red Mini.
The last window was a nod to the new Paddington film and had one of the bears from the Paddington Trail that is currently on in London. This particular one is completely gold and was styled by Kate Moss. (Liam Gallagher’s is, very aptly, at the entrance to Carnaby Street.) The taxi is also completely gold and has an enormous jar of marmalade hovering over it, about to spill its contents.
Looking back we should’ve gone inside the store to have a look around but time was getting on and we really wanted to go to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. On the way we spotted these amazing lights down one of the roads just off Oxford Street. Everyone was trying to take photos of it because it was so impressive. Please excuse the quality of mine. I forgot my camera so all of these photos were taken on my phone!
We finally got to Winter Wonderland about 5pm, which was perfect really as it was fully dark by this point. We mainly went there for the Christmas market but also to soak up the atmosphere to start feeling really festive. It’s a lovely place to go, although we didn’t buy anything, it was great to just look around, have a hot mulled wine and enjoy the constant Christmas music. Trust me, if you’re a ‘bah-humbug’ type of person, this would be your idea of hell!
There are loads of rides, some big like the Giant Wheel (Father Christmas is flying through it at all times) which you need to book in advance, and some much like you’d find at any other fairground. There are also a number of attractions, again which you have to book in advance, like the Magical Ice Kingdom and Zippos Christmas Circus, but it is just as fun to go along and have a wonder around. There’s plenty to see and tons of places where you can eat or drink, so there’s always something to do.
In the evening we headed out to a restaurant on Googde Street, just off Tottenham Court Road, called Mondello’s. It is one of those classic Italian restaurant’s where the deco isn’t all that great, the crockery isn’t exactly up to scratch, but the food and the service is outstanding. I love places like this and I always think they’re a real treat to find. Mondello’s is run by Filipo and Maria, who are probably older than my parents, and their family and they cannot do enough for you. The placing was really buzzing and people were constantly coming in desperate to get a table. I’d highly recommend this place if you’re ever in the area.
The next day we headed to our usual London shopping destination, Spitalfields market. We have been going there for as long as I can remember and every time, without fail, I always end up getting a whole load of Christmas presents, and this time was no different.
However, there’s one place I always have to go to just for me and that’s Collectif. Having already spent a lot on the shoes the day before I knew I wouldn’t be able to spend much so was desperately trying to ignore all of the lovely dresses, including the one on the right in the picture above. I tried on a jumper but, unfortunately, it just didn’t suit me, so I walked away empty handed.
Whilst I was walking around the shop, however, I kept looking at one of the staff members thinking I recognised her. Eventually I went up and spoke to her and, lo and behold, it was Rachel from What Katie Did, the beautiful lady who managed to get me into a 22″ corset back in the spring. We had a good old chat and she took us downstairs in Collectif where they have set up a What Katie Did concession.
The whole of the downstairs has had a makeover and it looks amazing. They have a lovely, but obviously smaller, range of lingerie on offer, including the gorgeous Eartha cathedral bra that I’ve had my eye on. They didn’t have a 32DD, but did have a 34DD, so I thought it would be rude not to try it on. It was stunning and I was absolutely smitten. Unfortunately the 34 was too big but I have managed to order the 32 online. Damn you Rachel, I’m supposed to buying Christmas presents!
I also couldn’t resist trying on the Gwendoline merry widow, which is to die for, and is definitely on my wish list now. However, I will say the sizing is a bit funny on this one. I tried on the 32D which fitted me like a glove around the body but was too big on the cups. If I’d had more time I would’ve tried on the 32C to see what it was like but at least I’ll know for the future.
Collectif are also showcasing Miss L Fire shoes in their Spitalfields store, so, it is definitely worth popping in if you’re around that area. Also, next Saturday (13th of December) they are having their official concession launch party from 3pm onwards with bubbly, treats and burlesque. I’m almost tempted to go up again!
As we were leaving Spitalfields a group of guys dressed as Santa came past us. We initially thought it was a stag do until we turned the corner into the main road where we were engulfed by hundreds of very merry Santas. We fought our way through, me in front, and at one point I turned around to check my mum was okay and I couldn’t see her. I panicked! Then I spotted her talking to one of them, asking them what it was all about. I held back, not wanting to suddenly get caught up in it, but then his friends started coming over and giving her a hug. Oh my god, I can’t take her anywhere! Then they spotted me and all descended on me too. Apparently it’s called SantaCon and happens every year in London, New York and Moscow where everyone dresses up in Santa outfits and just descends on the city. Unfortunately, they were really hard to photograph as they’d suddenly all move again as you were trying to focus.
The whole weekend was very surreal, simply amazing and we had a fantastic time. The only thing I would’ve changed was the whether as it was absolutely freezing, particularly wondering around Spitalfields, but it did give me a chance to pull out all of my winter warmers.
The coat is a Ben de Lisi design for Principles which my parents bought me for my birthday this year. It has a very military look when worn on it’s own and has a lovely circle shaped skirt to it to give it a real 50s style. The incredibly soft fake fur scarf/stole is from M&S and is quite possibly the best thing I have bought this winter. It is so warm and feels amazing. I’ve never actually found anything as soft as this again. The black beret I bought way back in the 1980s and I thought I’d thrown it away in the move but, thankfully, I managed to find it tucked in a drawer last week. Lastly, the bag is from the 1970s and I picked it up a couple of years ago at Shepton Mallet Flea Market. I get so many comments about it because it is such an unusual shape, very much like a doctor’s bag.
I feel incredibly festive now and have been playing loads of Christmas music since I got home. I’ve got my tree up and am nearly done with all the decorating, I even watched Love Actually! I simply cannot wait for work to finish and the real festivities to begin.