Just a three minute walk away from Portsmouth Harbour station lies Gunwharf Quays, a stunningly modern, yet tasteful outdoor shopping precinct specialising in designer outlets and restaurants with a beautiful view. As a lover of both good fashion and great food, I was delighted to have been presented with the opportunity to visit the Quays for myself, along with my boyfriend in tow, who upon arrival labelled himself as chief bag carrier – his idea, not mine. When I accepted the opportunity initially, under the impression a ‘style challenge’ would be set, I had absolutely no idea of the treat I was in for. Not only was I treated to lunch overlooking the harbour, but a £200 shopping spree too – in among the summer sales. It honestly felt as though Christmas had come early.
Rather than blowing the entire pot in Ted Baker as soon as I arrived, I calmly collected myself and devised a plan. With summer wedding season close approaching and a whole host of stores including Karen Millen, French Connection, Joules, Jaeger and Kurt Geiger, I decided to put together an outfit which would be suitable for comfortable, formal summer wear – in addition to purchasing a few extras. With the sales in full swing, I knew I’d be in for a few bargains – but I wasn’t quite expecting to find all the beautiful pieces I did. Sit down, grab a cup of tea (or a iced tea in this weather) this will be a long, but hopefully exciting post. I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve bought!
I haven’t actually been invited to any summery weddings this year (if you’re hosting one, feel free to invite me along – I’ve now got the perfect outfit) however several years ago, one was sprung on at me at the last minute and without an outfit to wear, I had to turn it down – so in aid of this, I now enter the sunny months fully prepared.
Although dresses tend to be first choice for wedding wear, I decided to opt for something a little different – falling in love (literally) with an absolutely to-die-for printed playsuit from Ted Baker. Originally priced at £149, I took it over to the till under the impression it was marked down to £75 but much to my delight – it was now £25! The sizing in Ted Baker is a little confusing at first – although after a quick Google, you soon realise the new method is far more flattering when you say it out loud. A medium or a size 12 is a 3 in Ted Baker, whilst a 14 is a 4. The cuts of the pieces are very feminine and even if you have to go a size bigger to fit into a sale item that’s simply too good to miss – there’s no ‘sack’ like features that will let you down. The playsuit looks pretty on the hanger, if slightly unshapely – however on, the pink middle section is rouched in slightly, revealing a much needed bit of waist – yet hiding all the lumps and bumps of the middle section. I simply couldn’t leave the shop without it.
A quick browse in Next revealed a gorgeous muted statement necklace, with silver and pink beads – ideal for summer wear, and matching perfectly with my new playsuit. Again, with no ‘sale’ tag on it, I happily skipped to the tills (metaphorically speaking) under the impression it was going to cost £19.50, but was delighted to see it bleep through as £8. This sale stuff is addictive.
With the jewellery and the main feature ready, it was only the shoes to go – and after a little mishap in Kurt Geiger – whereby the store wouldn’t take our gift card, I finally found the perfect pair in Daniel Footwear – some stunning, if not slightly blingy sandals which I think will look lovely with a tan. Ideal for holiday wear, they are light, comfortable and easy wearing. And with a minor defect and a 10% discount, they were just £28.
Upon browsing which shops to venture to next, with only a small part of the spending money parted with – I decided to head into the Cosmetic outlet, which much to my delight, offered brands such as Elizabeth Arden, Smashbox, Clinque, MAC and Bobbi Brown at a fraction of the price of you’d pay in a main store. Initially a little confused as to why these were such great deals – I shouldn’t complain but I wanted to check they were all the real deal, I was informed that the ranges in store were a mix of those discontinued from the main stores, overstock and items specially created for outlet. Rihanna’s collection for MAC featured for a third of the price you’d find it in the main stores, whilst Elizabeth Arden’s Double Wear was a mere £19. In keeping with the summer wedding theme, I decided to try out a new clean, light and flawless Bobbi Brown Foundation and Concealer Stick (£19.75) as well as a Mineralize Skin Finish Powder by MAC (£15.50). I had my hopes set on MAC’s famous face and body foundation but unfortunately they were out of stock (I did ask, they do get it in – but usually only the small sizes).
With the entire outfit coming in at just under £100 (not bad considering they are designer pieces), I had a little money to purchase a few other bits for summer, holiday and general day wear. With such a huge range of shops, there was so much to choose from and much to Sion’s delight – I spent a good several hours walking round and round picking up bits, putting them back down again, before then racing back to collect them – unable to part with them and taking them to the till (whilst clutching them tightly).
I found another gorgeous, albeit slightly less summery, dress from Ted Baker – which has a lovely ruffled hem and a very flattering (even if you’re having a bad tummy day) shape. At £53, it was the priciest item of the day but by far worth it. It’s ideal for monochrome daywear and will last you all the way through until Winter. A definite investment piece.
Although among the purchases were two gorgeous t-shirts from Jack Wills, which were £19 and £12 respectively. The store didn’t have the largest selection in comparison to others I’ve visited, but there were some gorgeous bikinis and the staff were really friendly and helpful – so these were certainly plus points. I also found a gorgeous pair of hot pink Ralph Lauren flip flops for £16.99. An essential for any holiday, these have much added style, glamour and girly-ness about them which I absolutely love.
After a ‘hard’ day’s shopping we were very thankful that Gunwharf Quays had kindly reserved us a table at Azzurro, an Italian restaurant with a simple, yet delicious menu featuring pizza, pasta, risotto and fish dishes – with an absolutely stunning view overlooking the harbour. I ordered a vegetable risotto whilst Sion opted for a steak. We sipped appletiser’s whilst picking which boat’s we’d choose – should the option ever be available to us. For a steep £1.2 million a pop (yes, we Googled it) we might have to do a little saving first but watching boats dock in and out of the harbour is strangely therapeutic.
If you’re ever nearing the Portsmouth area, or simply fancy a day of fashion, food and beautiful views to remember, be sure to head to Gunwharf Quays. Although I did have high expectations after a lengthy browse of the website, arriving there completely overwhelmed and surpassed what I thought it would be. An outdoor shopping centre, with designer outlets and gorgeous surroundings (not to mention, we were lucky with the weather) made us feel as though we were shopping in Florida – and with my main summer holiday feeling like a lifetime away (6th August and counting) this was a welcome change to your usual indoor precinct. Thank you to Gunwharf Quays for a really, really lovely day, I shall definitely be returning in the not too distant future and I can’t wait to wear my playsuit!
Have you been shopping anywhere different recently? Or have you ever ventured to Gunwharf Quays – what did you think? Let us know in the comment box below!