In my previous jaunts to Europe, the thing that I really enjoyed (other than the obvious sights, historical landmarks and unique cultures), I was intrigued by the fashion-forwardness and the effort that most people put towards dressing well. I would love to call myself a fashionista, and I do try as hard as possible to stay up to date on current trends in the fashion world, but there's still a lot I have to learn about the industry. London Fashion Week just ended a couple days ago, and my goal by the next one in February is to get invited to (or somehow sneak int0) at least one of the events. The more time I spend in Europe, specifically England, I can see and compare my observations on fashion between this continent and America. The United States is known for it's popular store Forever 21, as well as a variety of other "preppy" clothing stores, including Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and Hollister. Europe has Primark, H&M, Zara, Topshop, River Island, and many more shops only based in Europe or the UK. For someone like me who cannot pass a clothing store without going in a probably buying something, coming to England is like heaven.
H&M invaded America a couple years ago, and since then, has become a very popular store. Before I left, a new H&M had opened at my local mall, and I went there at least once a week. Other than spending money I didn't have, which was a mistake, I really should've waited until I arrived in London to go shopping, because H&M's in England are months ahead in their fashion choices. While I did see some items that had been in the American stores, the trend right now in Europe seems to be sweaters and coats made of faux fur. This is something that was not at any of the H&M's or even Forever 21's when I left. I do happen to like this style, but won't be buying any until my financial aid comes in next week. I'll be interested to see when this style hits America.
The next lovely thing about the UK in it's clothing stores is that they seem to be much more willing to cater to larger-sized women who wish to wear the same items as the smaller girls. As you can see from my H&M selfie below, I am a curvy girl, but I still enjoy wearing the styles available to the rest of my fellow fashionistas. H&M has clothes that go up to a UK size 20 (which is about a size 16-18 in the US). Even in American H&M's they only go up to size US14, and not that many items have that pleasure. Primark's sizes also go up to a UK20, but a lot of their clothing is oversized and stretchy, so they can accommodate for size.
As I am stationed in London, I have shopping all around me. There are so many H&M's. I've even seen two across the street from each other. There's multiple on the same block! It's crazy. Primark is probably the equivalent to America's Forever 21, although, there is now a few Forever 21's in the UK. What I've noticed though in the Forever 21's here is that they'll take an item that is normally $15 and replace the dollar sign with a pound sign and the $15 item becomes £15, so once you consider the conversion, they're selling it for $25. That doesn't seem worth it to me, so I will pass on going to that store while I'm living here.
It's going to be very hard for me as a shopaholic to be able to function alright in a city known for it's fashion tendencies, but I am hoping over time, I'll get so used to the easy access to shopping, that I will get bored of it. My university's campus is right in the heart of Oxford Street though, so it's tough to go to classes and pass all these stores, so many fashionable people, and not want to go buy something, but I think I'll learn to handle myself. I love being in a place where people make an effort to look good. To me, dressing well is one of the best things you can do to present yourself to the world.