Category Archives: Bargain hunting

Up the Camden Passage!

Hello Monday magpies,

Hope you haven’t been drenched or frozen solid today by this dreary weather!

Yesterday, I had a great day out with my older sister and my mum up in Islington, checking out all of the little boutiques on and around Upper Street. Unfortunately, I’m lacking funds at the moment, so it was mostly as an exercise in window shopping, but it was very enjoyable nonetheless!

It was the first time I had been shopping in Islington properly, having just had a quick zip around one or two shops earlier in the year, after a family lunch. While Upper Street does have some of the higher-end high street names (Whistles, Jigsaw, Hobbs et al), it also has a lot of wonderful independent shops, catering for the majority of tastes. Unfortunately, I was protecting my freezing cold hands from the wind with a pair of mittens, which weren’t conducive to taking notes (manually or electronically), and so specifics about the modern shops have evaded me. However, I shall going back to report on those, so never fear. Filling your piggy bank before hitting Upper Street is a good idea, as the boutiques vary from “treat yourself” prices to “eek! Better put that back on the rail before I damage it and have to get out a loan to pay for it”. Though even the expensive shops are well worth a look, if only for the unusual but beautiful pieces they have to offer.

My sister was mostly keen for me to visit the Camden Passage for the first time, due to my desire to add to my vintage collection, and I was glad she took me there. The shops were filled with the most wonderful pieces, even offering up real Victorian and Edwardian items (though I’m sure you can imagine the prices). But what caught my eye more than anything else were the original 1920s flapper dresses, in all of their designs and colours, whether tasselled or beaded, I loved them all. I was desperate to try some on, but I was also colder than a snowman without his thermals, so it wasn’t to be. I can’t wait to go back in the spring, ready to strip off and then prance around in every flapper frock I can find to fit me! (I’m all effed out!)

I’m also looking forward to browsing in a shop filled with what have been described as “proper wretched” eighties clothes. Think a maxi skirt that is see-through from the hips down, and some Nick Frisbee-stylee jumpers (ask your parents or have a Google if you don’t get that!). A great shop if you need a bloody good laugh!

Now I have a few more life’s ambitions (in addition to riding a penny-farthing) – I want to own something Victorian, Edwardian, and a real 1920s flapper dress. This means I have to learn a new skill – saving up! I also need to learn the worth of vintage items, as some shops have quite a mark-up. Maybe it’s because their rent is so high, or maybe because they can get away with it. Who knows? Though I’m sure if you have the confidence to haggle (which I don’t), and know what you’re about, you could get some good deals.

There are market stalls, too, which I’m sure are more reasonable. Each is laden with vintage items – my favourite was selling fabulous hats and bags – and the stall holders were very friendly and obliging.

Despite some of the prices, Upper Street and Camden Passage are really enjoyable places to shop, with lots of lovely eateries along the way (you have to try Ottolenghi’s carrot cake  – delicious doesn’t come close!). Not only are there lots of beautiful bits to buy, including some breathtaking jewellery, there are many examples of how to put vintage outfits together, often layering pieces from different eras. One window display showed a Victorian coat over an Edwardian lace over-dress, underneath which was an eighties maxi – and it worked!

I’m really looking forward to revisiting Islington as soon as possible, and returning home with some things old and some things new (nothing borrowed, but maybe something blue…). There are a lot more shops and streets to explore around the area, too. I’m very lucky to have my sister as a tour-guide, making mental notes of all the places I would love. Even if they do end up bankrupting me!

Keep warm in your nests tonight!

Missy Magpie xx


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Filed under Bargain hunting, New discoveries, Style search, Vintage