Replikating at Hobbs, Gunwharf Quays

Gunwharf Quays is my local shopping outlet, and whilst it doesn’t have as many luxury brands as Bicester, it’s still an amazing place to shop.

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If you’re after some Kate Middleton style, it’s also a great place to pick up replikates!

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Many of Kate’s favourite shops and brands are here, including L.K. Bennett, Barbour, Hobbs, Jaeger, Ted Baker, Links and Ralph Lauren

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I popped in to Gunwharf for a quick pit stop this weekend, and here are some of my finds!

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This awesome Ted Baker jacket in silver was a special sample priced at £80. Unfortunately it was a bit creased and didn’t photograph well, but it had a beautiful shape to the back.

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Ted Baker is an excellent place to get really gorgeous party dresses or frocks for the races.

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Another great outlet is L.K. Bennett. I’ve purchased many a great item in here, including a teal Jude jacket (£60) and a pair of black suede Harper pumps (£115). Highlights today included a black Davina dress (Kate has worn one in teal under her Jetta jacket – like the Jude) for £150, and Sledges in beige, gold and black glitter for £115.

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I spent most of my time in Hobbs though – I love the brand and the physical stores, but let’s just say their online service leaves a lot to be desired… But let’s stick with the positive for this post!

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There were a few items in here from the current mid season sale, including plenty of items in the same Dalmatian print that Kate wore in Southampton (hers was a collarless coat). The Niamh top was there in blue and white for £28.

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There were also trousers, a scarf, and a cardigan (£50).

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As the Dalmatian mac that Kate wore is long since sold out, these are great replikating options which use the same print! There are even shoes – the Lexi open toe court for £49 and the Bea ballerina, £35.

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My favourite replikate from Hobbs is the Myra wedge, in navy suede (£49).

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They also had the mushroom version, which was incredibly tempting!

Hobbs Outlet stores can be found at Bicester, Braintree, Canterbury, Cardiff, Cheshire Oaks, Kildare, Portsmouth, Swindon, Walton-On-Thames and York. Track them down at http://www.hobbs.co.uk.

Bicester Village: Chic Shopping at Bargain Prices

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One of fashion’s best kept secrets is Bicester Village – a shopper’s paradise located in Oxfordshire. Part of the Chic Outlet Shopping group, the Village is home to luxury brands like La Perla, Mulberry, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Temperley London, Anya Hindmarch and more – along with high-end high street stores like L.K. Bennett, Hobbs, Ted Baker, Reiss, Links of London, and French Connection. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather spend the day shopping!

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I recently went for a visit as Bicester Village is very conveniently located halfway between my house and my in-laws’ (near Birmingham), so a spot of retail therapy breaks up the trip nicely…

The Village itself is beautifully laid out – a long walkway lined with shops and restaurants, and it’ll take you a couple of hours at least – at a brisk, no-dawdling pace – to see everything. If you’re planning some serious shopping, you’ll probably want to take all day! There are some lovely places to eat – Busaba Eathai, Carluccio’s, Starbucks and Pret A Manger I can all vouch for, while I’m dying to try out Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts, and the Creperie Angelie and Amorino Ice Cream kiosks.

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Strategy is the key for a successful shop at Bicester – make sure you set yourself a budget, although if you’re like me, you may well blow it on some serious bargains. There’s always something new here as the stock changes fairly regularly, and each company has a different policy about what makes its way to the outlet stores, and when.

Needless to say, everyone will be after something different from their visit. I always like to pop into Jimmy Choo (last seen with some wellies on offer for £50!), and to lust after the gorgeous wedding dresses in Temperley. Scarves and clutch bags are the order of the day in Alexander McQueen, and I just love to check out the huge range of beauty products at the Cosmetics Company Store (including Bobbi Brown!). No visit would be complete without checking out the bags at Mulberry or the scarves (and trench coats!) at Burberry, although with some of the high street stores you’ll certainly find items priced at most budgets.

If you’re a massive fan of the Duchess of Cambridge’s style – as I am (could you guess?) – you’ll be pretty pleased to find many of the brands she’s been pictured wearing all in one spot. If you’re ever visiting the UK, you really need to put this on your ‘must-do’ list – there are even luxury coach services from London, as well as regular trains from London and Birmingham. In fact, if you fancy, you could charter a chauffeur service too – check out the options on the site here. (Of course, it goes without saying that driving there is very simple – it’s just off the M40 and A34, and again, if you want to make your trip even more luxurious, Bicester has just the option for you – valet parking!).

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One of my favourite shops to stop in at is L.K. Bennett, and during my trip I noticed the Natalie clutch and the Maddox wedge (heir to the Greta) on sale, and previously other acquaintances of mine have scooped up some coats the Duchess has worn in both Hobbs and Ted Baker. Sadly for me, I already owned the Natalie and the Maddox (yes, in both colours!), but there was plenty to tug at my purse strings on my visit.

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I came away from my trip with a beautiful Fox Charm necklace from Mulberry (£90 reduced from £150), a red purse from Anya Hindmarch (£61 down from £175, I believe – can’t believe I forgot to check!) and a free – FREE – dotty umbrella from Jaeger, courtesy of my loyalty card voucher. I can definitely attest that that’s one scheme worth signing up for! I would have come away with a beautiful deer brown Lily bag from Mulberry (which was just over £400), but let’s just say I’ve been buying too many designer bags recently and people are starting to notice…! (By that, I mean my bank manager specifically.)

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Sunglasses, eBay / Bondi Font Bracket Necklace, Maqaroon / Tangerine Michelle Top, hush / Grey Trousers, Next / Vectra5 Studded Slippers, TopShop / Lanesley Bag, Hobbs / Bloomingdale’s Charm, Bloomingdale’s / Dog Zodiac Bracelet, Mulberry / Lucky Charm Camera Bracelet, Maqaroon

Bicester Village has recently launched a new campaign for autumn called Touch of Chic, which I’ll post about later in the month – in the meantime, make sure you check out the site for Bicester Village at www.bicestervillage.com to find out more about the brands, offers and services available, including travel information and a list of shops!

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If you’re visiting, get there early to get into the big name shops without queuing (these are easy to spot by the velvet ropes outside!). On my visit I arrived promptly at 9am on a Saturday in the school holidays and managed to get into all the shops I was aiming to without having to wait – but by the time I was leaving, just a couple of hours later, the queue were starting to form. Well, good things do come to those who wait, right?

Find Bicester Village at 50 Pringle Drive, Bicester, Oxfordshire, OX26 6WD. You can also give them a ring at +44 (0)1869 366 266. And, check out the visitor information at the site by clicking here.

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