What to buy in the UK vs. the USA.

As part of my preparations for my trip back to the UK I collect a few shopping requests from family and friends here.  I think it is commonly perceived that most goods are much cheaper in the USA.  It’s true that many are – but there are also several brands that are FAR cheaper in the UK.

I normally have a little list of places to go when I’m back in the UK on the hunt for a bargain.

1.  Many European brands/high street stores simply multiply by 2 when converting £s to $s instead of using the exchange rate.  Plus our sticker price here is not the final price as we add sales tax on at the register, which varies from county to county and state to state.  This can make brands like Zara and H&M far cheaper to buy in the UK.

2. Classic UK brands such as Barbour, Hunter, Ted Baker and Paul Smith are usually far cheaper in the UK.  My Husband has sized himself for a Barbour here which I can then collect in the UK at half the price.

3. There are many books and music titles that are not available in the US.  I can’t find Take That’s Progress on iTunes – nor The Pete Tong Collection (I did manage to buy the latter on Amazon.com).  Again my Husband orders several books from Amazon.co.uk and has them delivered to my Mum – why he thinks I’ll have room in my bags for books I’ve no idea!  I am much more shallow, as ever, and make sure I get my hands on Grazia, Hello and the Sunday papers.

4. In the US we don’t have Primark – now it’s definitely at hit or miss store – but the bargains that can be found are amazing.  I bought my favorite pair of boyfriend jeans there for £12 last year!

5. If only we had the same power and sockets in the US and UK I’d be sorted.  My ghd hairdryer cost a fortune here compared to the UK.  We also unfortunately don’t easy access to other European brands like Parlux.

6. Of course you’re not supposed to travel with some types of food and import it back to the US but I always return with custard creams, galaxy chocolate, pickled onion Monster Munch and Bisto gravy granules:)  I eat as many pork pies and M&S sandwiches as I can while I’m there!

Now for things that you should definitely buy when making a trip the US:

1.  Makeup is far cheaper here – from drugstore brands like Revlon and L’oréal to department store brands like MAC, Clinique and Chanel.  OPI and Essie nail polishes are also only $8 a pop here – my Mum always stocks up:)

2. Sneakers/trainers are much cheaper here – though I think the choice is more varied in Europe.  They normally just switch the £ for a $ making them dirt cheap compared to the UK.

3. My FIL always pops into the Apple store to upgrade his iPad when he’s here.  The fact that Apple use universal power, meaning no transformer is required, makes it far cheaper to buy here – though it has to be said that prices are coming down in the UK.  My Mum and Dad bought theirs at John Lewis – paying slightly more – but having the comfort of the John Lewis warranty made it worth it to them.

4. Housewares are cheaper.  Want a good potato peeler (yes I’ve been asked to take TWO back to the UK), or a good apple slicer?  Buy it here at Target.

5. Designer goods are generally much cheaper here.  My Rag & Bone Newbury boots are cheaper, as are most designer bags.  You will find however the focus on labels varies significantly.  I NEVER see Mulberry here, yet I would never buy Coach or Tory Burch here as you see their logos EVERYWHERE.  One thing to note is TheOutnet.com stocks widely differing brands here compared to the UK so if you are here long enough to receive a delivery it might be worth checking out.  For example this Alexander Wang Rocco is 45% off here and yet it’s not even on the UK site.

Rocco

6. US brands that have traveled across the Atlantic are far cheaper here – J.Crew being the most obvious, but Banana Republic and Gap are also much cheaper here.

7. Here in the US most states have fabulous outlet malls.  One word of caution though stores like J.Crew and Coach often make items just for the outlets – so that bargain you think you are getting may not be so much of a bargain.

Now for my outfits from the past few days…I adore these new H&M trousers that Eve alerted me to.  The fabric is lovely and stretchy but I still needed to size up to a US 10 – the waistband is tiny – no vanity sizing here!

Allsaints leather

Sneakers – Adidas Samoas // Trousers – H&M // Sweatshirt – AllSaints // Jacket – AllSaints // Scarf – Uniqlo

I’ve been trying to wear some fur before it gets warmer.

hermes 2 Hermes

 

Boots – Isabel Marant Dicker // Jeans – ASOS Saxby (just $20 now!) // Jumper – Boden cashmere crew neck // Jacket – Forever21 (old – similar here on sale) // Scarf – Hermés (gift from my Husband)

It was cold but REALLY sunny yesterday!

Boden gilet 2 Boden gilet

 

Sneakers – Isabel Marant Bobby // Jeans – Zara (old) // Jumper – Boden St. Ives // Gilet – Boden JohnnieB

My first port of call in the UK is normally Marks & Spencer – more for nostalgia – but I do love a bit of M&S!  What stores or brands would you miss if you relocated to a different country?  I’d love to know!

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New necessities.

No don’t worry I’m not trying to justify the ‘need’ for new shoes or clothes again – in fact surely our relationship has evolved to a stage where justifications are no longer required?  Indeed.

Today I bought something that I haven’t bought in years, and something that I’ve rarely needed in recent times.  A new hairdryer.

As my hair has grown I feel the need to blow dry it more often – to acquire that more groomed look.  My haircare routine currently involves washing with Trader Joe’s citrus shampoo, occasionally followed by the conditioner, then the addition of some brand of keratin smoother (I haven’t found one yet to be loyal to), followed by a quick dry with a 10 year old Revlon travel hairdryer, and a quick run over with my 13 year old CHI flat irons to smooth out the kinks and remaining frizz.  Both the hairdryer and the flat irons have just bitten the dust within 10 days of each other.

With my new longer locks – and the ambition to continue to grow them into a healthy, shiny, smooth mane, I decided to upgrade as well as replace.  Any excuse to spend more money hey?  Hence I began the search for new ‘professional’ grade appliances.  I had no idea where to begin – things in the hair care world have moved on somewhat.

For flat irons I knew I wanted to look at CHI again.  The ones that just died on me were amazing and I bought them for $150 (which back then was extortionate) but for the use they have had, cost per use etc., they have been phenomenal value.  However, I also surveyed my blogging buddies – it’s great to have a panel of fashion and beauty experts on hand!  The majority of them recommended ghd – a brand designed in the UK and made in Europe.  Looking through the information on their site it appears there are two popular models – the Classic and the Professional, and I nearly ordered the Professional model.  Then I noticed the Eclipse model which promises to style the hardest to tame and frizziest hair, tackling any hair texture – promises that appealed to me knowing how unruly my hair can be at longer lengths.  The Eclipse is currently available in the UK, but unfortunately not yet in the US – though their Facebook page keeps suggesting the release here is imminent – probably in time for Christmas.  So, for once, I have decided to wait till the Eclipse model gets here – no bad thing as it looks likely it will retail for nearly $300.

So I moved on to hairdryers.  Again I surveyed my blogger friends and many brands were mentioned that I had never heard of before, like Parlux.  Other brands that I found more prevalent in the US were the T3, and again ghd.  I was at first completely sold on the Parlux 3800.  Okay I admit I loved the green and I loved the idea it was made in Italy – go figure.  Mr. PS pointed out that Italians may make great shoes and clothes but since when were they known for electronics?  On further investigation it appeared their customer service and support in the US may be nonexistent.  Not what you need when you are contemplating buying a $200 hairdryer – just in case it dies on first use.  So today I headed into Sephora to continue my research.  I looked at both the T3 and the ghd.  According to the lovely lady helping me they sell more T3s but the ghd is much newer to market here.  I felt that the ghd was very slightly heavier, but it was also smaller (shorter in length) and a little cheaper.  The UK connection convinced me that was the brand I wanted, and as shallow as it sounds I want my flat iron and hairdryer brands to match:)  So now I am the happy owner of a new hairdryer – who knew hair appliances could make a girl smile so much?!  Oh and if you are in the UK you can get hold of the ghd dryer at Selfridges – one of the few things that is far cheaper there than here – if only our sockets were compatible!

GHD

 

While I was in the Mall I popped into Gap who have a sale on in stores here now – plus 35% off regular items and an extra 25% off sale items online (with code GAPFALL)!  I did a little try on.

I picked up the window pane sweater just to try it.  And just as I thought the lines do NOT work on my curvy boobs – square windows become bay windows.

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I loved this leopard print lightweight sweatshirt.  I’m overwhelmed with leopard print in my closet now though!

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I loved this bomber jacket but couldn’t bring myself to pay full price for it in store so I ordered it online with the 35% discount.  It’s lovely.  Grey and cream are perfect together.

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Finally I’ll leave you with my outfit today.  In honor of the AllSaints 100 hour sale I wore my favorite AllSaints jumper from years ago, H&M boyfriend jeans, and some sneakers I found lying around;)

Golden Goose

*****

Note: On returning home I discovered the ghd is made in Italy too – so maybe I better have more faith in their electronics:)

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