Bargain Hunting With Amber: best bargain shops
Amber McNaught writes
Hello, my name is Amber and I'm a shopaholic. Actually, better make that a recovering shopaholic for lately I've been forced to change my spendthrift ways – and what a struggle it's been. One of the big plus points of being a self-employed writer is that you can work in your pyjamas if you so desire, and actually? That works out pretty well because sometimes pyjamas are all I can afford. (This is a bad state of affairs to find yourself in when you write for a bunch of fashion, shoe and bag blogs, and are faced with temptation every single day of the week - trust me.)
I exaggerate, of course, but only a little bit, and in my column for Catwalk Queen I'm going to be sharing with you my struggles to stay fashionable on a budget which, on some months, wouldn't even clothe a cat. (Although why you would want to do that absolutely beats me). This month, I'm starting off by taking a look at my favourite budget fashion haunts...
Being a fashion addict with no money is absolutely no fun at all most of the time, as you can imagine. I mean, what do you do? Do you save up the month's money and buy one fabulous piece every month, or do you hit up Primark and shop up a storm? Well, personally I always intend to do the former, which sounds by far the better idea of the two, but I almost always end up doing the later, because, well, I'm stupid like that. Luckily for me, though, this doesn't work out too badly, because, living in the UK, I'm fortunate enough to have access to one of the best high streets in the world, with an ever-growing selection of bargain fashion emporiums. Now that the supermarkets are getting in on the act too, selling clothes for roughly the price of a couple of microwave meals, well, my cup runneth over. Which brings me to my first and favourite fashion store, which is (*drum roll*)...
1. George at Asda
I know! It amazes me too! If someone had told me five years ago, that one day I'd be naming Asda as my favourite high street store, I'd have laughed at you, and then I'd have laughed some more. But it's true: the clothes are not bad quality, you can get a cashmere sweater for £22, and - best of all - the ranges change so quickly that every time you go in there are new clothes to see. Best Asda buy: a stretchy black 60s style dress that I picked up for £18. Worst moment: finding it reduced to £10 the very next month - gah!
I have a slightly troubled relationship with Primark, partly because there isn't one near me (WHY?), and partly because I find the sizing a bit hit and miss - and that's without even getting into the fact that you sometimes have to physically fights other women to get to the clothes. If Primark ever does come to my town, however, it could just knock Asda off the top spot, for where else can you buy an entire outfit for £25?
3. TK Maxx
I know, I know - it can be a bit of a jumble sale in there at the best of times, but I owe some of my very best bargain fashion finds to TK Maxx (most notably those £5 Paper, Denim & Cloth jeans that Gemma mentioned in her column last month). The thing I like most about TK Maxx is the fact that if you get lucky you can pick up items that you won't find anywhere else. As every bargain fashion hunter knows, the problem with shopping at Primark et al is that you soon start seeing your clothes on every second girl in the street (I don't know about you, but I've started playing "Spot the Gold Sequin Primark Dress" every time I switch on the TV. Most recent sighting: on Zoe Ball last Saturday night. Also spotted: on someone in the X Factor audience.) At least with stores like TK, you have an outside chance of finding yourself something a bit different.
Where would I be without the Bay? (Answer: still wearing my pyjamas, probably). It has come to the rescue on many an occasion when there was too much month left at the end of the money, and I have no doubt that it will do so again. Love you, eBay!
It's another troublesome store, which promises much but often fails to deliver. I mention it here purely because it's a great place to stock up on staples like t-shirts, vest tops and winter woolies (this month I picked up a skinny rib sweater and fine knit cardi for just £18), and because the shoes can be nothing short of fabulous.
So there you have it: my own personal budget fashion meccas. We need to praise them like we should...