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.


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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Heaven and hell…

…that’s what the Trafford Centre trip turned into for me today.  We had originally decided to go as Dad was very excited about the John Lewis sale – under the guise of “your Mum loves John Lewis” – well he wasn’t fooling anyone.  As it happens it was also lashing it down with rain this morning and the trees were horizontal so being indoors seemed like a good plan.  Though, just so you all don’t think I am a complete nut job, I HAD cautioned everyone involved about the peril of shopping with a 4 and 6 year old – my Mum had clearly forgotten after raising 3 children.  We met my lovely sister who is enjoying maternity leave with baby Tom – who coincidentally is the perfect age for shopping with children, as long as you have plenty of baby bottles prepared before you leave.  To be honest I don’t know what the fuss is about with newborns – all they do is eat, sleep and poop – so easy compared to a 4 and 6 year old…yes I hate to harp on, and I know parental amnesia is kicking in, but I am trying to evoke some sympathy.

So as we walked into John Lewis, knowing I hadn’t taken a photo of myself in all my glory, wearing my Hudson jeans, AllSaints Bonny cuban boots, Zara lace top, YSL Roady bag and JohnnieB leather jacket, I asked my lovely daughter to photograph me.  The following results are the beginning of a downhill spiral:

Flattering hey?  Intentionally action shots?  I don’t think so…

Having fueled the kids with boiled eggs and sausage this morning they did allow me some time to browse the sale and I spotted these lovely dresses but couldn’t summon the energy to try them on, and the lovely Oasis dress with anchors on it was only available in an XS otherwise I would have just bought it without trying I liked it so much.  The second dress was the lovely French Connection Calypso jersey dress that I’m not sure I would ever wear but I still thought it was gorgeous and drapey.

I did manage to try on a Mint Velvet long sleeved top that caught my eye mainly due to the color.  I have to admit I haven’t heard of the brand before but they have some lovely casual tops.  While I was in the changing room I heard the screams of my son and thought twice about returning to my party – I nearly made a run for it just 30 minutes into the shopping trip…While in the changing room I also managed to achieve what Poppy hadn’t, that being a photo of my outfit of the day…

Here’s the top I tried – I think the fit of the 12 was fine and a 14 would have been to loose around the neck but the fabric was a tad too clingy for my liking so I passed on it.

On then to AllSaints.  Not having a stand alone store in Atlanta I relish the opportunity to visit one here and the one in the Trafford Centre is pretty big.  I left Mum and Dad watching their grandchildren and legged it.  I certainly wasn’t intending on buying anything – but then why would I go in the store at all?  Oh and then I discovered my heaven for the day – their sale had begun today!  (on the US website too!)

I walked out with knitwear and yes granted it is needed here in Bury, it won’t be worn for a while in Atlanta with 90 degree temps.  I ended up with four, yes four cardigans.

I love my black cerulean cardigan so I got the grey marl:

I already have the plume jumper in ivory and was tempted by the ebony striped one shown here, but ended up with the cardigan instead – my favorite of the 4 items, but not to be found on either the UK or US website:

Then I picked out the grey Jagger cardigan – I have the black jumper which I love, and I’m a magpie around anything grey – could only see the black online though:

Finally the Boston cardigan – just gorgeous and I can wear this in the summer evenings with shorts:

VERY, VERY happy with my haul.  Sadly I then had to regroup with the tired, irritable children…poor things it’s not their fault the shopping gene hasn’t kicked in yet.  So we took them off for fish and chips in John Lewis and all were soon happy and smiley again.  I’m now at Mum and Dad’s with my first glass of white of the day – well earned I’m sure you will agree, and if you were in Manchester today and heard a manic woman yelling “Poppy!”, “Hugh!”, “Come on guys!” – it was me.



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