Fact 1: London is an expensive city.
Fact 2: Clothes in London are reeeaally expensive.
I knew before I moved here that London living would be pricey. And after nearly 5 years living here, I’ve almost gotten used to the steep clothing prices. At the very least, my perceptions have been skewed. I’ll look at a dress with a £75 price tag and think, “Wow, that’s a good deal!” Usually I snap out of this delusion pretty promptly and realize actually, that’s not a great deal. As a result I do a lot of shopping at Gap, which is more reasonably priced and often has sales.
But doing all my shopping at Gap is a little monotonous. Not to mention, I don’t really want to shop at an American store while living in London. Even though I’m not a tourist at all at this point, there is a part of my brain that tells me I shouldn’t be buying things in London that I can get at “home”.
COS is my favorite store these days. It’s affiliated with H&M in some way (sister brand? same owners? I’m not clear on the relationship) and specializes in simple, sleek, better-quality-than-H&M pieces. Their collections are largely made up of solid colors. The patterns they do have tend to be geometric and monochromatic. The designs are simple and clean-lined, with an interesting structural detail here and there. It’s not the type of place you’d go to find a fancy party dress, but it’s great for everyday work/casual wear.
The stores have an architectural and minimalist design to compliment the clothes.
Best of all? The prices are (relatively) reasonable and the quality is good!
As I shared in our Favorite Things Post, my favorite item of clothing is a dress, and COS has a multitude of comfortable and versatile dresses. Over the past year, I’ve returned again and again to browse the shop and try on tons of dresses (I sometimes branch out into other items, but there are more than enough dresses to keep me busy). My COS dress total currently stands at 5, and it has required some restraint not to make it more.
I tend to go for their looser fitting, drape-y dresses. They are super comfortable and very wearable.
That black one on the right is basically just a tent, but I love the way it hangs and moves, which you can kind of see in this picture:
And the green/blue one is another favorite. I bought it last year as my “Easter” dress and it ended up serving as my “holiday” dress for the rest of the year. The loose fit makes it perfect for those over-eating occasions. Thanksgiving? Check. Christmas? Check.
I regularly wear all of these dresses to work, but they’re equally suited to the weekends. AND! They work in both warm and cold weather – add some tights and an undershirt when it’s cold; lose the extras when it’s warm.
My most recent acquisition is the white and gray one in the middle up there.
It hasn’t been warm enough in London yet for me to wear it with sandals like the model here, but I’ve been rocking it with black tights, ankle boots and a black jacket. So yep, works for cold or warm weather and for work or casual. Perfect!
Anyways, the point is: I love COS. And the good news for you Americans is they’re expanding! They are opening (or may have already opened?) a location in NY this spring; and I hear they’ve already got another one planned for the West Coast. For those of you who don’t live in NY or LA, once they’re up and running, you’ll be able to shop online. Woohoo!