Last Sunday, I spent the day at Bicester, a designer outlet village just over an hour’s drive from London. My friends and I try and go once a year to get some Christmas shopping done. Having learned our lesson from going the first weekend of December last year, this year we got in there early. We also went on Sunday figuring it would be less busy than Saturday and woke up at the crack of dawn to get there for opening time. (Trust me, it is not worth getting there any later, you’ll spend more time queuing in the cold than shopping.)

Anyway, it’s a very pretty little place, all quaint sloping roofs and random statues of bears (never having lived in a village, I cannot confirm whether giant stone bears are a fixture of all villages or just this one). It is uncovered so dress warmly. There are a few restaurants but mostly just lots and lots of shops- Prada, Ralph Lauren, Temperley, DVF, Gucci, Burberry, Mulberry, Matthew Williamson, Agent Provocateur, Bose, Kate Spade, Juicy Couture etc. etc. There are also a few slightly more affordable options, such as Cath Kidston, Jack Wills, Hobbs, Coast, Reiss and Ted Baker. There are a couple of kids’ clothes shops and a handful of kitchenware shops (Wedgwood, Le Creuset etc.). The discounts range from pretty good to very good. (And if you are lucky enough to have a friend who is a non UK resident with you, they can go to the Visitor Centre and get a 10% off card. Yay for foreign friends!)


Unfortunately, there used to be several more high street-y shops, including Monsoon (great for pretty dresses), Bodum (super-useful for Christmas presents) and French Connection (which in truth was the main reason I went to Bicester) which have been axed, presumably in a bid to make it more high-end and exclusive. However, I have to confess that for all my love of gorgeous clothes and fashion, I am not a huge designer lover. (Translation: I can’t afford it, and I’m also equally happy with a similar but cheaper version of designer styles.) So, if you are someone who does like to invest in designer pieces, then Bicester is the place for you. However if, like me, you take the view that £1,035 or £695, makes no difference- it’s still totally unattainable, then prepare not to come home laden with bags.


It is still, however, a good day out. Their Christmas decorations are pretty, the atmosphere is good (although closer to Christmas it can get a little manic), they had a 2 minute silence at 11am which I thought was a nice touch, the restaurants are good (Villandry –which I always expect to be a preppy swimming trunks shop but is actually a restaurant-  does a whole roasted Camembert :-D) and the discounts make shopping even more fun than it usually is! Alas, however, I didn’t get manage to get any Christmas shopping done this time.

 Which isn’t to say that I didn’t buy anything……



The Styletterie