Designer shopping at Bicester Village

Everyone loves finding a bargain, especially if it’s a luxury designer piece. If you’re a fashionista and into designer labels like I am, then you just have to visit the Bicester Village shopping outlet. I love spending a day there and you can find some absolute gems so it’s definitely worth visiting.

The Stores

Every time I have been to Bicester Village, there seems to be newly opened stores and they have over 160 premium and luxury brands to look around. The luxury stores range from Prada, Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo, Balenciaga and more. Plus there is a giant Gucci store which has some amazing discounted items.

One of the other larger stores is Ralph Lauren and these two tend to be the busiest so I always aim to go to these at the beginning of my shopping trip as by the afternoon there can be queues to get inside them.

Throughout the year, there are often additional deals and sales on, so you can get even more money off of the already discounted prices which is amazing. They will often mention when they are doing these days on their website HERE so keep an eye out for those.

The outlet

Travelling from London Marylebone, the outlet is around a 45 minute train journey. I always tend to see other shoppers on the train and some people  actually take suitcases with them to carry home all of their shopping!

The outlet is not under cover like a regular shopping centre, it’s more like a designer shopping street, with each brand set in their own independent boutique store. The luxury stores have the same sort of feel to them as if you were in their London Bond Street branches, but with a reduction in the price from anything up to 60% off!

There are a few restaurants and cafes dotted around the outlet also so you can stop for lunch and snacks along the way. Again, these can tend to get quite busy during the day so I often try to have an early lunch there to avoid having to wait or queue. I would much rather have more time shopping!

I stared my recent trip to the Farmshop cafe for some delicious scones before I set off around the shops. This has a really lovely cosy barn feel to it.

Shopping tips for Bicester Village

Tip number 1 – My number one tip when visiting Bicester Village is to not plan what you want to buy. Just wait and see what they have on the day as they change their stock regularly and you just never know what is going to be there. So go with an open mind and you will not be disappointed.

Tip number 2 – is that if you like something, buy it there and then as if you go back later in the day, you cant guarantee it will still be there. It’ll probably be in one of those suitcases that you saw on the train there!

Tip number 3 – is to buy off season. It might be a cold Winters day when you are there, but if you find some gorgeous summer sandals, sunglasses or bikinis, it’s the perfect time to pick them up while you are there and definitely cheaper than if you try to buy them in the following June. Likewise,if you go in the Summer time, look out for Winter jackets – especially at Burberry for some amazing deals.

Tip number 4 – is to look for Christmas or birthday gifts when you are there. There are some fabulous bits you can pick up like candles from the White Company, stylish small leather goods at Smythson or Mulberry, underwear/pyjamas from Calvin Klein, or pretty jewellery at Links of London just to name a few!

Hopefully you have found this post useful if you are planning a trip to Bicester Village soon. Leave a comment below to let me know what bargains you have bought there before.

How to de-clutter your wardrobe for the new Winter season

Now that we are officially in Autumn/Winter and the weather is getting colder, it’s the perfect time to de-clutter your wardrobe! Not all of us are blessed with a dressing room or rows and rows of wardrobe space. Some of us even have to share wardrobe space with our partner. So a good tip to manage the space that you have affectively is to do a seasonal clear out. Here are my top tips on how to do this.

Get started

Ok lets get going girl! You are going to feel so organised when this has been sorted. First things first, get everything out of the wardrobe and group it into sections. All knitwear into one pile, all jeans into another etc – this will make it easier to see everything that you have to go through.

Evaluate what you have

You need to be ruthless and really look at each piece with a level head. Ask yourself if you still love each item and if you will wear it again. Anything you’re not sure about, try it on. Does it still fit? If it doesn’t, there is no point hanging on to it. Does it still look as good as new or are the threads getting loose or starting to bobble? If it is, you know the drill – move it into the pile of things to be removed.

Have a look at your accessories too when making the decisions on whether to keep or remove each item. You might get inspired for a fresh new way to accessorise an outfit.

Any items that are going to be too warm or too cold to wear in the current season but you want to keep it, put these into storage bags, neatly folding everything. You can get these out next season and see if you still want to keep them or not.

If anything still has the tags on it (we are all guilty of this) then it’s likely you don’t really want the item anymore. Keep the tags on as this always helps when selling clothes online.

Organise

Now that you have decided what you are going to keep, its time to put them back into the wardrobe. A good tip is to either group the items in categories, so all of the tops together, sweaters all together etc. Alternatively hang up the clothes grouped together in outfits. This is a good idea if you have to wake up early for work and don’t want to have to think too much about what to wear – the hard work has already been done for you!
Another good tip is to hang all of your clothes with the hangers facing the same way. When you have worn something, hang it back up with the hanger facing the opposite way. This will really show you what items you have been wearing. If something is still unworn for a long period of time, ask yourself if you really still need it. It’s said that we only wear 20% of our clothes which is such a crazy figure compared to what most of us have in our wardrobe!

image: Pinterest

Keep, Sell & Donate

Work out from the pile that you don’t want, which items you can potentially sell and make some money back on. There are lots of places you can sell items, such as Ebay, Depop and Facebook local selling pages. Price them fairly – no one is going to pay full price for second hand clothes, even if they are unworn. Also, make sure anything you sell is in a decent condition and isn’t stained.
Anything else can be donated to local charity shops or to friends. Perhaps you could even organise a clothes swapping party where everyone takes a couple of items that they no longer want and you can get the chance to swap with others!

Make a list of what you need to buy

This is my favourite part! As you have now organised everything that you want to keep you can start planning new items to buy that you will need for the season. Do you need more basics to pair together the pieces you have?
Do you need a new pair of boots to replace the old ones that you removed? Write a list of the bits you can see you need and then you can get shopping!
I hope you enjoyed reading my tips on how to organise and de-clutter your wardrobe. I would love to see a photo of your wardrobe spaces and how fab they are now looking!

CaseApp – The phone accessories that you will fall in love with!

I absolutely love accessories and so when I recently came across CaseApp I was so excited. If you haven’t heard of them yet, then guys you are in for such a treat! CaseApp specialise in phone cases and laptop skins and they give you the freedom to create the exact design that you like. They also offer their own pre-made designs if creating isn’t really your thing and they literally have hundreds of styles to choose from. Trust me, you will be spoilt for choice.

Phone case heaven!

The first thing that really drew me in to this website was that they have cases for Samsung phones. Finally a company that cater for us Android users! Honestly, for years I have looked for decent cases for my phone and have always felt disappointed as they are always for I-phones and never for my phone. This has always really bugged me. CaseApp have got it covered with the phone ranges that they cater for though. If you gave a Nokia, I-phone or Samsung you will find something for your model. You can even design a skin for your laptop or Ipad for various brands which is great.

The design process

The whole design process couldn’t be any simpler. You don’t need to have an art degree or have to deal with any tricky software to do this.

Firstly, you select the model of your phone. Then you get the option of either a matt or glossy finish that you would like your case to have. I personally like a matt finish and this is what I decided on when creating my designs. You will be taken to a blank canvas silhouette of your chosen phone case and then the fun can really begin!

You can upload an image that you would like to be on your case, or you can choose pre-set clip art designs or phrases to play around with. I designed my cases directly from my mobile and uploaded my images in seconds. You are able to scale these uploaded images to fit the shape of the phone case really easily.

Once I got going I became hooked on trying out new ideas. But finally, after a whole evening of playing, I settled on 2 designs. The first design was a classy snake print which is THE animal print of this Autumn/Winter season which you will have already read about on my recent fashion post hereThe second design was a really cute graphic image of a little hand symbol on a pink fluffy background.

The final product

I placed my order and literally within the next couple of days and received them through the post! I love a fast delivery and I wasn’t expecting to receive them so quickly which was fabulous. Overall I am really impressed with the quality of these cases and at £19 these are a really good price point. They are made of a sturdy, quality hard case material and I can see that the printing on these is not going to scratch or peel off like I have experienced in the past with other cases.

You can really go to town with the designing of these. If you’re a business owner, why not upload your logo onto your phone? It would definitely catch people’s attention. If you like personalised items like I do, you could create a really pretty background with just your initials on the case.

Treat yourself with my discount code!

So if you fancy getting yourself a new phone case or laptop skin, I have a discount code that you can use throughout the month of October. Head over to the CaseApp website HERE and use my unique discount code HANNAHLULOVES20 receive 20% off your order. Don’t forget to send me pictures of your designs as I would love to see what you created!

This post features products that were gifted, however all reviews are my own and as always my honest opinion.

 

Online shopping – is it worth the money or is the high street better?

Image: Pinterest

In the last few years online shopping for clothes has really boomed. I remember when Asos first launched and they were actually called ‘As seen on screen’, selling clothes that were inspired by what celebrities had been spotted wearing. Now days they are a multi-billion pound global success selling womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories, jewellery, beauty products and a huge range of well-known brands. They continue to grow every year and since then there has been a surge in other online fashion sites such as Pretty Little Thing, Boohoo, Missguided, and Misspap which are also following the same pattern of success.  

The appeal of these sites is mainly for the price which tends to be a lot cheaper than the high street stores such as Topshop and they are also very trend led, leading the way with the latest fast fashion styles and marketed in a way that make you want to spend your money with them. They often send out discount codes, newsletters and emails on a daily basis to get you back on their site looking at what’s new. It certainly works for me so they are doing something right in keeping hold of our attention!

These online fashion companies have grown with the help of celebrity collaborations such as Paris Hilton, Kourtney Kardashian and Pia Mia, as well as social media platforms such as Instagram. The rise of the influencer on social media has also really boosted the popularity of these online retailers. Pretty Little thing have even started selling clothing covered with their own brand name which has been selling really well for them.

Image: Pretty Little Thing

However, with the plus points there are also the negatives. Personally, I have been really disappointed with shopping online lately and I have sent back 90% of what I have ordered. This is what inspired me to write this blog post as it makes me wonder if everyone else is experiencing the same as me? Is everyone else spending hours queuing in the post office returning their online purchases or are the clothes working for everyone else and it’s just me finding it a palaver? Here are a few of my biggest nightmares with online shopping:

The quality

A lot of the items ordered online seem to be of a lower standard in terms of quality. You can tell as soon as you touch it that the fabric is not going to last long and doesn’t always look or feel the nicest to wear in real life. I find a lot of the white clothing, particularly trousers tend to be transparent and no one wants to walk around with their pants on show – that’s an outfit killer right there!

The item doesn’t match the image online

OK, so I know that the models are there to make the clothes look the best that they possibly can, but so often I see an outfit online that looks incredible and as soon as I try it on it looks nothing like how I imagined which is so disappointing. This can be anything from the colour not matching how you hoped or the fabric being too thick/thin/stiff etc. When you shop in a high street store, though you have the chance to try the clothes on and test them before you buy to see if you look good in them which saves you so much time and money, which leads me onto point 3.

The fit

I have literally given up ordering trousers online now as I am not blessed with the longest of legs, but the length of some of these trousers makes me wonder who all these tall people are as I never seem to see them walking around!  Also, I find that I can be a size 8 with some items right up to a 12. This is because the clothes are cheaply made and from a variety of factories so the standard of sizing is usually all over the place and often hard to judge.

Waiting 

If you are impatient like I am, when I buy something new I like to take it home with me straight away. Deliveries have improved for a lot with the bigger named online retailers, and they often offer free next day delivery deals, but even still, you need to wait and if you are not home when the delivery man arrives, this could also mean an extra trip to the post office. I think I am on first name terms with my postman and local post office now!

Returns and refunds

This is one of my biggest hater points of online shopping. You might get a good deal with free postage when you place that order, but you will have to pay to return items the majority of the time – apart from ASOS who have a fabulous 28 day return policy for absolutely free.

I also find the length of time you have to wait to get your money back can be frustrating and you could easily forget if you are due a refund if you have had to send a few things back in the month. This makes me wonder how high the return rate is for some of these online retailers. I know that a lot of YouTubers that film fashion hauls do not keep all of the items they order online, and a lot of people are starting to do these type of videos.  I personally love watching them and often get really good inspiration for outfit styling watching these.

Talking of YouTube, a lot of the well-known influencers are gifted the items that they show and haven’t had to pay for them. This could also be the reason why they speak so highly of everything they show usually and I would love to know if they really love the items they have received as much as they say that they have.

The high street stores have really been suffering in the UK over the last few years and many have been going out of business which is a real shame. I really enjoy shopping in stores and would hate for that to disappear completely and everything to become purely focused on online shopping.

Image: Pinterest

What are your thoughts about shopping online? Do you prefer it to shopping on the high street now? What do you think about the quality and service you are getting from online retailers?  I would love to know your thoughts on this!

New items that you will love from Zara Home

There is something quite serene about shopping in a Zara home store. Is it the beautiful smell of diffusers and candles that greet you as you walk in the door? Or perhaps it is because everything is neatly grouped together by colour tones which definitely helps to make my inner OCD happy. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it is addictive and it pulls me in every time!

I had a stroll around London’s Regent street this week in the sunshine and was drawn into the Zara homewear store. I was inspired and just had to let you all know about the new items that are now available. I really like this particular store as it has the most gorgeous marble and gold central spiral staircase which spans over 3 floors.

The bed linen is one of my favourite things in Zara home and in the entrance way was a beautifully made bed with a pretty spring floral print in dusky pink and lilacs. I must admit that Zara bed linen is slightly more expensive compared to other stores on the high street, but they do have a higher thread count which is a sign of a better quality material.

Sometimes I feel that it’s better to spend slightly more on items that you know you will get a lot of use out of over time and new smart fresh bedding is an instant mood lifter. Zara do have great mid season sales though and you can often grab a real bargain on bedding when it has been reduced.

                             

Top of my wish list was a duvet cover with matching pillow case set which is in a Versace inspired mosaic print. The print is a light gold thread and looks really classy. I also seem to have a thing at the moment for palm or leaf print designs and I came across the perfect set for a pretty spring bedroom look.

There was a new range of diffusers which I really liked. I have a slight obsession with these and love to have them around my home. Not only do they look smart displayed as an accessory, but they add a nice scent to a room and are particularly great for hallways.

Zara accessories are super affordable and they always have a great selection of different styles and colours. If you are looking for a photo frame or little decorative item you will definitely find something that suits your own home style. A good tip is to keep your rooms and furniture a neutral colour and then use colourful accessories to lift the room. This way, you can change your accessories during the year to give your rooms a new look. Fresh, bright colours are perfect for the summer months and rich jewel tones look great over the Autumn/Winter months.

                         

Here are links to the Zara home website for a few of my favourite picks:

     

Have you bought anything from Zara home before? Let me know your thoughts if you have and thanks for reading! xx

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