It may be one of the world's fashion capitals but you don't need a magazine editor's expense account to tap into London's street style. Beyond the boutiques, there are numerous ways to get a fashion fix on a budget. London's high street stores offer something for everyone, and for serious bargain hunters with a taste for designer brands, there are outlet stores and sample sales galore. Looking for something unique? Head to one of the city's vintage shops for a retro rummage.
The Best of London's High Streets
The most affordable way to tap into Britain's famous street style is to hit "the high street," a phrase that refers to any main shopping street and not actually a road called "High Street."
While you'll find these busy shopping streets throughout the city, Oxford Street is lined with the best selection of stores, many of which are flagship shops offering a wide selection of stock. Be warned, though: It's Europe's busiest shopping street and can be frustratingly crowded on weekends and during sale periods. If you can, shop first thing on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Most of the shops on Oxford Street are open by 9:30 a.m.
- The discount fashion store Primark is hugely popular and has large stores at either end of Oxford Street (opposite the Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch tube stations). Here, it's all about fast and affordable fashion; the range is immense and stock changes regularly. It's great for seasonal pieces for men, women, and kids, and there's also a homeware department and a beauty section with exceptionally cheap makeup products.
- New Look is a great choice for budget pieces for both men and women. They also have a great shoe selection and decent plus size and maternity ranges. There are two stores on Oxford Street; the flagship shop is located near Oxford Circus.
- Zara and H&M, which are reliable for cheap wardrobe staples, both have multiple shops on Oxford Street and nearby Regent Street.
- Mango near Oxford Circus has an outlet section up on the second floor where you can pick up jeans at deep discounts.
London's Outlet Stores
For designer discounts, head to Hackney Walk in East London where top brands occupy converted Victorian railway arches and offer savings of up to 70 percent. You can shop for leather bags at Anya Hindmarch, sharp suits at Aquascutum, contemporary womenswear at Joseph, sportswear at Nike, sweaters at Pringle and cozy footwear at UGG.
Just around the corner on Chatham Place, you can find discounted trench coats, scarves, and accessories from the iconic British brand, Burberry, where stock is reduced by 50 percent. For another British brand fix, check out the Paul Smith outlet store in Mayfair. This tiny store on Avery Row sells end-of-season stock and items from previous seasons for up to 50 percent off including colorful ties, wallets, and cufflinks emblazoned with the designer's signature prints. LK Bennett is famous for its elegant dresses and quality shoes, and at the Kings Road clearance store in Chelsea, you can score discounts of up to 75 percent off regular store prices.
Sample Sales in London
Keep your eyes peeled for sample sales in London to score huge discounts on designer gear. Check sites like LDN Fashion and Chicmi for information on upcoming sales and plan to arrive as early as possible for a chance of finding the best bargains. Note that it's unlikely there will be alternative sizes if you find something you like. Regular sample sales take place at the Music Room in Mayfair and at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch.
Vintage Bargains in London
Most of London's best vintage shops and thrift stores are centered around the Shoreditch neighborhood, including the always reliable Rokit on Brick Lane and Absolute Vintage near Spitalfields Market. For bargain hunting on a big scale head to Blitz on Hanbury Street. This two-story Victorian warehouse stocks an incredible array of hand-selected pieces as well as retro homeware. If you're staying in central London, you can pop into Beyond Retro to rummage through the rails at this vintage basement boutique.
In Camden, make a beeline for the Stables Market where you'll find one-off gems at What Goes Around Comes Around and Lost 'N'Found. There are also a number of charity shops that line Camden High Street including Oxfam and Age Concern.