Finding My Inner Posh Across the Pond
How I shopped my way across the U.K.
Last weekend, I was walking around Shoreditch in London, feeling depressed because everyone looked so much like Sofia Richie, when I turned a corner and practically ran into none other than fashion designer Simone Rocha.
Of course, she was the best dressed person for miles around, wearing what I’m 90% sure was a hybrid green bomber jacket coat by Sacai, with a black tulle dress of her own design peeking out from underneath, plus black Samba sneakers and thick gray wool socks. I figured that if I followed her — at a good distance, so that it wasn’t too creepy — she would probably lead me somewhere more interesting. And that’s exactly what she did.
We — “we” lol — ended up at Wright + Doyle, a lovely little shop with sweaters made of Welsh wool and other pieces that seemed great for gardening. Clearly, Simone, who is Irish, was there for a chat with the owners. So after a quick browse, I left them alone and kept walking. Everyone out and about was carrying these beautiful bouquets of flowers, and I realized that I was actually very close to the Columbia Road Flower Market. As I headed towards it, I began to see more and more people hauling these huge potted plants home. Apparently, this was the thing to be shopping for on a Sunday afternoon in London.
Obviously, I was not looking to purchase living things. But I did discover a handful of really cute stores along the way, including Colenimo, where I was very tempted by a trench coat. Plus, Straw, where I felt up a fuzzy vest, and VOUT, where I saw some good vintage. I also passed two furniture stores: M.Goldstein and M.Kardana, which don’t appear to be related…?
Back in Shoreditch, I managed to find one interesting brand called Old Town at Labour and Wait, which is the kind of store that sells designer dust brushes. The brand was founded by a stylish couple, Marie Willey and Will Brown, who seem to have fun posting on Instagram together, in addition to making well-tailored garments.
The next day, I made the requisite pilgrimage to Dover Street Market, where I hoped to get lunch at Rose Bakery. They weren’t serving proper food that day, though, and I was too starving to browse. So I stumbled to the nearest Pret A Manger, (which was like, two feet away, and where I had already eaten thrice since I arrived), and found salvation. As I left, I turned around and saw that I’d actually patronized a VEGGIE Pret!? Huh. Didn’t know that was a thing. I also learned that Pret has a membership program called Club Pret, which is the hottest ticket in town, as far as I’m concerned. I wrote a note in my phone that read: “Why is Pret A Manger the best,” to remind myself to pitch the New Yorker when I got home. (You think I’m joking, but I’m not.)
In terms of actual shopping, I was striking out. Sadly, I didn’t have time to make it over to Portobello, and I’m sure there are a lot of worthwhile shops that I don’t know about. But I think I saved the best one for last: Gentlewench. There, I found this bloody uh-dor-rable scarf with little hands on it by an Italian knitwear designer named Diane De Clercq. When I looked her up later, I found some cool vintage pieces by her as well.
I felt satisfied that I’d found at least one esoteric souvenir to bring home and show off. But my hunt was not over. After watching the David Beckham documentary on Netflix, (matching purple wedding ensembles?? Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift could literally never), I decided that what I needed in my life above all else was some Manchester United swag.
When I said this to the friend I was visiting, he hushed me as though I’d said a bad word. But, like Posh Spice, I don’t care about “football.” I care about the fact that the colors of “Man U” — black and red — happen to by my colors as well. And after seeing so many people walking around London in Adidas track pants all week, I wanted some black and red striped ones for me-self. So I went to a JD Sports, which is basically like Foot Locker, and found a pair. But they weren’t the right silhouette. I think I’m going to order these on Amazon, instead…
Before London, I was in Scotland with my family, and I visited a store in Edinburgh called Epitome. They had a lot of gorp-y brands I was already familiar with — Snow Peak, Engineered Garments, Gramicci — but these names are not so easy to find in the U.S. in one place, so I was jealous of the Edinburgh-ian [?] woman for having them all at her fingertips. I also discovered two new names there: Hannoh Wessel and Barena, both of which are based in Italy.
What I reaaaaaally wanted were some freakin’ CHUNKY KNITS. I had this whole plan to visit Bard, a store recommended to me by Old Stone Trade founder, Melissa Ventossa Martin, which sells Scottish craft and design pieces like Shetland Woollen Company sweaters. But it happened to be CLOSED on the only day I was in town!!! I was devastated. To twist the knife even more, I saw on Instagram that Penny Martin, editor-in-chief of The Gentlewoman, was there just a few days later. But it’s okay. Thankfully, Bard ships across the pond. I’ll just have to pay the price for living in this stupid country!!!
What I Packed
I’m proud of myself. I wore pretty much everything I packed and didn’t wish I had more. Because we were hiking in the misty Highlands, I brought a lot of rain gear. Arc’teryx kindly gifted me a bunch of stuff a few years ago, and I genuinely like it. It kept me dry and warm. My daytime uniform consisted of an Agnes B. snap cardigan and High Sport pants. I know these pants are expensive (and I admittedly haven’t paid full price), but they truly become a second skin for me when I travel. My nighttime uniform was a black Pleats Please turt + pants set.
(By the way, I learned something that blew my mind when I went to the Pleats Please store in Soho before I left, which is that the brand’s size numbers actually refer to length. So a 3 is two inches shorter than a 5, for example, not two sizes smaller. Who knew??)
My main packing strategy is this: bring fun accessories. They don’t take up a lot of space in your suitcase, and they make every day feel like a special occasion, which it is when you’re on vacation. This time, I brought some Simone Rocha hair clips, and my new favorite Leorosa x Super Yaya scarf to liven up my otherwise boring uniform.
NEXT TIME: A visit to the new Gohar World store and Beverly’s!