The genesis of this post dates back to my recent housewarming party. At one point in the evening I found myself in my bedroom with about 8 women, all of whom wanted to see the "stuff" I bought while on holiday. I hadn't suggested it - they asked. They wanted to see it all (and in some cases try on the shoes, and in one case in particular try to stuff my new Jimmy Choo clutch into the pocket of their hoodie - and I know you're reading this, and you know who you are!). So, I thought I'd share some of my favourite finds here on this blog. If you don't care for "stuff" you may as well stop reading now. You've been warned!
All the retailers I'm listing ship to Canada - and most ship for less than Canadian companies do. There is the exchange rate to consider, and one must keep in mind taxes and duties. One company, though (I won't say which one) shipped a recent order to me as a gift and thus I paid no duty or taxes. They did so of their own choice, and not my request, so it was a delightful surprise.
Since I began in London let's start there. London is fabulous for shopping, not just for the "big name" designers but for some fairly unique items from lesser knowns, too. One of my favourite purchases in London was, of course, this tote:
Since we are on the topic of handbags one of the things I wanted was a bag from an English designer. Before I left Canada I did my research and discovered Lulu Guinness. Lulu is a favourite of actresses like Helena Bonham Carter, and is known for her whimsical designs. Considering they are designer bags the prices are pretty decent - less than you pay for Coach bags in Canada, anyhow. This is the bag my wonderful husband and daughter got me for Christmas - can't wait to pull it out this spring!
There is a clothing store in London that must be mentioned, and that is Topshop. The clothing is fresh, inspired, and relatively inexpensive. Quality is decent, too, and they even carry shoes. I must admit I did not purchase anything while in London from Topshop, but I would certainly have done so if I could have stuffed more into my suitcase.
Finally, the shoes. Ah, my favourite fashion subject, shoes! My daughter and I were walking around Carnaby Street, just browsing, when I spotted an eclectic looking shoe store and suggested we go in. My daughter took one look around, looked at me, sighed, and said "We're going to be here awhile, aren't we?". Yes, indeed, we were. The store is called Irregular Choice, and they have the best shoes in the world. Now, these shoes are not for the faint of heart, and one friend said she could never be brave enough to wear them - but they're shoes, not nipple pasties, and every woman should feel free to wear whatever she wants on her feet. These are the ones I brought home:
I absolutely love them, and they cost a fraction of high-end designer shoes. You can't see it, but the inside is lined with blue velvet, and the soles have a whimsical mad-hatter rabbit type print. I can't decide whether to wear these or display them as art. Now, Irregular Choice will ship to Canada but I find their shipping rates prohibitive, so there is another option to get your hands on some of these fabulous shoes. That option is Schuh (funny name, but say it out loud with a "sh" sound at the beginning and you'll get it). Schuh not only carries Irregular Choice but other brands as well, and many you will never find in Canada. For shoe addicts like me it's a treasure trove of delight. And the shipping? Dirt cheap, my friends.
Right, moving on to Ireland. One of my very favourites is Newbridge Silver. Not for their cutlery, but rather for the silver jewelry pieces. Again quite reasonably priced. This is one of the bracelets I have, and it reminds me of Ireland every time I wear it. You can order right from Newbridge Silver or any number of online retailers, including Arnotts.
Finally a favourite haunt in Ireland rapidly became House of Ireland. They carry a wide range of items from Ireland, ranging from Newbridge Silver jewelry to Waterford crystal to Aran sweaters. A warning about the sweaters, though - no Irish person would be caught dead in one, and it seems to wear one there, especially in the major cities, will mark you instantly as a tourist. When you come back to Canada, though, everyone will be impressed with your lovely sweater, so it's all good! I came home with a sweater similar to this, although in a beautiful kelly green. I can't wait to pull it out this spring as it will remind me of Ireland with both the colour and the fact I purchased it there.
So, there you go. Now you know all my secrets, like where to find the best shoes in the world. Even worse you know I'm a shallow person who loves shoes and handbags. Hey, we all have our faults and weaknesses. Mine just happens to be those. Happy shopping!