Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

You've all heard about Bicester Village, right? The place where loads of big designer names have outlet shops where you can pick up proper (I mean stuff you see on the catwalks, not naff logo t-shirts) designer pieces at a fraction of the usual price. What I hadn't quite grasped until I visited Bicester on Monday is how relevant the stock is- I had been expecting to find things to buy now and stow away for next Summer, basically I thought everything might be a bit behind the usual retail calendar. It may be August and time for holidays but the savviest shoppers are beginning to put together their Autumn wardrobes. I've been thinking about mine since February, such is the life of a Fashion Journalist. So contrary to expectations, the shops of Bicester have plenty of stock which feels just right for now- there were military coats, boots galore, graphic kaleidoscope prints, puffa jackets and many more of the key catwalk pieces for the coming season. It's a little bit like a giant sample sale but more civilised, with fewer elbows, items discounted at a time when you still want to wear them and a few lovely restaurants a stone's throw away to dive into between browses.

I have a bit of a thing for shoes so I seemed to zone in one them during my Bicester visit. I could have bought up the entire Rupert Sanderson shop which was stocked with pieces I remember seeing at their press day in March. There were lots of the brand's signature elegant heels but also a good smattering of bang-on-trend pieces like the red and black houndstooth boots. Add to that tassel slippers in lots of colours and the kind of winter boots which will last years, but with those thoughtful design details like the ankle cuff on this riding style.

Rupert Sanderson boots: Were £788 Now £310 at Bicester Village 
Rupert Sanderson tassel slippers: Were £525 Now £350
Rupert Sanderson riding boots: Were £725 Now £480

Another Bicester must-visit is the Marni shop which is full of clothes and accessories which are properly on brand and definitely don't feel like end-of-line rejects. My favourite spy was these bright spotty heels. What with the Vuitton/ Kusama collab and their appearance in lots of key Resort collections, I would say dots are one of the safest graphics to invest in right now. There were also lots of pieces which played into the AW12 trend for chunky gem embellishment, as seen on the Marni catwalk of course. It doesn't get more bling than the clutch I found, but there were plenty more items which would have ensnared a magpie or two. 
Spotty heels in Marni, Bicester Village: Were £370 Now £127.50
Marni clutch at Bicester: Was £765 Now £470

It's not just high-end designer at Bicester. I would definitely recommend you go into stores you might not usually think of. On my last trip, I bought two pairs of shoes in Hobbs which I get compliments on all the time and in Jigsaw there were lots of good jumpers and cardigans as well as great penny loafers which I would have bought had they had my size. And if you have a breton top addiction like myself then stock up in Aubin and Wills, the chicer older sibling of Jack Wills (which also has a Bicester outlet if you're that way inclined). 

So, if you are starting to think about building up your Autumn/ Winter wardrobe or fancy escaping Olympic London for a day (or even an evening- it's open until 9pm) then you get yourself to Bicester Village. 

P.S There's an upgraded train service which now takes you from London Marylebone to Bicester North in 42 minutes- easy peasy. 

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