Sunday, September 24, 2006

Primark hits the mark

When discussing London shopping, everyone talks about Topshop. Topshop’s great. No one’s complaining. What’s shocking, though, is that people don’t discuss Primark. I had heard about Primark once before coming here. I went on a whim because I wanted to buy a blanket. I was shocked and awed and thrilled. And yes, I did get my blanket.

Primark is a little like Target, but it’s 80% clothing and 20% home wares. It’s not much to look at; every time I’ve been, it’s been swamped, clothing ends up on the wrong hangers and the wrong wracks, and the things that were folded on tables instead of hung up to begin with kind of look like they were hit by a hurricane. There’s also enough basic clothing that sometimes run into soccer mom territory that a first reaction to Primark could quite understandably be “eh.”

I’m awfully glad that I gave it a second glance, though. Amongst the £3 sweats are some true gems. I carted more to the dressing room than one would think possible, and actually, I had much less in my arms than everyone else did. Everything was so damn cheap that if it weren’t for the exchange rate that I’m fighting (and that I don’t really want to spend all my money within three weeks of getting here), I would have just gotten everything I liked. I settled for three items: I got a jacket, a mini dress, and a top. . . for £26! The jacket is a little olive bomber jacket, puffy and quilted, with a big knit collar and cuffs. I grant that it’s not a terribly original design, but it fits really well, it’s flattering, it’s warm, and it’ll go with everything. If it’s not well-made, who cares? It was £8! The top and the dress are truly extraordinary, though. Faithful readers know that I love Batwing, or Dolman, sleeved tops, and I came across a truly gorgeous specimen at Primark. It’s striped, but the pieces are put together so that the stripes are diagonal on the front, and horizontal on the sleeves. There’s also some ruching at the shoulder, which is nice, because it keeps the fit nice and snug at the top, despite the baggy sleeves. I know it sounds busy right now, but the stripes are dark grey and black, so it’s really not overwhelming at all. The dress is a sweater dress with sort of cap sleeves and wide armholes. It’s a lovely knit, soft marled dark grey and white, but the accent is definitely the neck line. It’s got a huge, floppy, cowl neck that’s the perfect counterpoint to the slim, neat fit of the rest of the dress. It’s divine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally going to shop at Topshop, visit Harrods (maybe shop?), get Faith or Office shoes, and get lots of things at Warehouse. I won’t limit myself. I will go to Primark on a regular basis, though, until those lovely grey boots are in stock in my size.

Maybe that’s why no one talks about Primark—no one wants the shopping competition.


Anonymous jess said...

Haha, I used to work at Primark, trust me, I've tried to get on top of the mis-matched hangers and things in the wrong places! ive us a little sympathy ;). People don't talk about Primark because they (from experience) always seem to feel a little bit ashamed that they shop in there. I personally think there are some gems, & I'm not at all biased! It's a class thing, I think. I'm not too sure if it works the same way in the US... I'm not even going to try and explain myself, I'll sound like a snob.
I haven't checked out the London Primark yet though, I'll be there Thursday so I think it's worth a look.
& I'd kill to see a Target over here!

8:34 AM  
Anonymous mia said...

boo post a picture of your primark finds!

2:04 PM  
Blogger La Principessa said...

That's interesting--I would say that there's definitely a little bit of stigma about shopping at certain places in the US, but people talk about shopping at Target (which I think is fantastic) with sort of a sense of awe, because it's so shocking to get something fantastic for like, $9. I understand what you mean, though.

I'll try to post pictures if I get a moment :)

12:46 AM  

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