Shopping: In London and Oxford (or, the Land of the Cute)

Shopping: In London and Oxford (or, the Land of the Cute)

I have a thing for cute clothing. If a sweater has an animal printed or embroidered onto it, I’ll probably buy it, or at the very least, try it on.  If something’s polka dotted, I usually end up owning it. I’m not the only one who loves cuteness on clothing. Plenty of UK based brands, from Boden to Cath Kidston, put cuteness front and center.

On a recent trip to the UK, I got to experience the cute up close and personal. While shopping wasn’t the focus of the trip (I was actually there for academic reasons), it did figure prominently. I stopped in at two Cath Kidston stores (one in Covent Gardens and the Flagship store on Piccadilly). During my time in Oxford, I came upon an adorable little boutique called Aspire Style. If you have a penchant for pretty patterns or adorable animals on your clothing and accessories, I recommend checking out both shops.

aspire style sweater

In Aspire Style, I fell in love with a cardigan almost immediately. It’s a lovely, navy blue cropped sweater with embroidered foxes, rabbits, and squirrels on the front.

UK sizing is a bit different from US sizing. Typically, sizes are two bigger than in the US. So if you wear a size 6 in US clothing, you’d fit a size 10 in the UK. I also find that there’s less vanity sizing in the UK, so clothes fit more accurately. Meaning, if you look at the size charts and the measurements listed, the clothing you buy will actually more or less line up with the chart. That said, I’m usually a US 4 or 6, and I’m in a UK 12 here. It’s a little wide on the sides of the chest, but otherwise a perfect fit.

The sweater is lightweight and made of viscose, which means there’s a chance it will shrink in the wash. Fingers crossed it doesn’t. I’ve also found that gently ironing and pulling on the fabric when doing so helps undo any shrinkage.

One sticky thing about shopping in the UK is the exchange rate. When I went, the rate was about $1.70 for every pound. The cardigan was 39 pounds, which seems like a steal, but really is was a little more than $60, which is about average.

Here’s a close up of the embroidery. Cute, right?:

close up aspire style sweater

While I didn’t have much time to spend at Aspire Style, since I had a bus to catch back to London, I did have ample time to spend at Cath Kidston. I suppose I spent too much time there, as I went to two different shops on two separate occasions. The Covent Garden store was relatively small, but the flagship on Piccadilly was amazing. It was two floors full of clothing, accessories and housewares.

cath kidston zip top bagAlthough I got some small gifts for friends and family from the shop, my big goal was to purchase one of the line’s bags. Deciding was tough, but I knew I wanted a dot print. I ultimately went with the small zipped handbag above for a few reasons. It’s coated cotton, so relatively waterproof. Over the years, I’ve ruined my fair share of books by getting caught in the rain or snow with a non-water resistant bag. It also has a zipper along the top, so I don’t have to worry about stuff inside spilling out. Finally, the handles are too short for me to put the bag over my shoulder. I have some shoulder problems, partly related to constantly carrying heavy bags on them, so this should help me break that habit. Oh, and the bag is green and polka dotted, so two of my favorite things.


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