Last week I was able to escape the intensity of the British heatwave to be in the relative cool shopping sanctuary of the Bentall Centre in Kingston. As well as trying to hunt out some festival and holiday garb for myself, I was going to be meeting competition winner Natalie, who I would be accompanying around the centre to help her shop for her personal wish-list.
As you may remember from my last blog visit to the centre, this shopping centre has been my go-to fashion destination for my entire shopping ‘career’, apart from the 3 years at uni, and even then I was pining for the familiarity of my favourite. That’s a hell of a lot of successful shopping trips in one place!
In the last few years in particular the centre has really upped it’s a game, to a point where I no longer have to wait for trips into London to visit some of my current favourite shops – ones like And Other Stories, that were formerly not part of the Bentall Centre. No only that, with Yo Sushi, Tortilla, Maison du Mezze etc, you can make an a proper day of it, refuelling in the best possible way with your shopping buddy before getting back to another mammoth shopping sess.
I was of course going to visit my usual fave haunts in the centre, the sales are currently on so there’s a vast amount of satisfying bargains to be had. But on this occasion I was going to be experience Mango at the Bentall Centre for the very first time too, and I was excited I had yet another option to find potential festival and holiday outfits.
My initial impression is that it has found the perfect balance of having lots of great offerings without it feeling cluttered or jam-packed to a point of it feeling overwhelming. Sometimes in an effort to cover everything shops can overstocked and it leaves you feeling a bit stressed and clueless as to where to start. Here there was room to breath and no argy-bargy was necessary to secure the fashion finds.
As you can see the shop is a riot of colour at the moment, which is what you’d want for summer, with (hopefully) a full social calendar of outdoor music events, BBQ’S, weddings, holidays, and weekend breaks ahead.
But if you’re not one for vivid brights, there’s also some carefully curated areas of the shop for fans of the creams, oatmeals, off-whites and beiges, which showcase some beautiful clothes which teamed together could create some lovely neutral and tonal ensembles. Here you can find gorgeous cosy knits which you can imaging snuggling into while windswept on a British beach. Then there’s linen and cheesecloth materials which immediately give off that effortlessly chic, but ‘just threw it on’ feel.
As this is my current style obsession I was thrilled to see Mango provide numerous straw/woven/neutral bag options. They tone in wonderfully with the aforementioned natural hued clothes, but are perfect accessories for brights and prints too as they don’t distract or clash. Isn’t it nice that we have a trendy summer bag that is actually practical and can fit all our stuff in?!
But if you’re in to high-end bags, that polished designer aesthetic, they have lots of options for you too (many of which are in the sale right now). Whatever summer trend you’re looking to tick, whether it be florals, gingham or polka dot, you’ll find an adorable bag that will hit the spot.
Sunglasses were not on my shopping agenda today if I’m honest. I’ve managed to find one pair this summer that I don’t hate, so I figured I’d already filled that particular style quota. I have never expected to have an illustrious collection, as I seem to have one of those face structures that looks frankly ridiculous in most styles, and I usually end up abandoning any attempts to hunt down the perfect pair. But as I haven’t tried Mango sunnies before I thought I might as well try…you know never know. I thought there was a fair chance I was struggling with heat stroke when I looked in the mirror and actually liked how they looked. Maybe a heat mirage confused my perception of the image staring back at me. But I asked personal shopping competition winner Natalie what she thought, and she agreed and exclaimed, ‘you have to get them!’ I was feeling a weird combination of smug, but also annoyed that I hadn’t realised Mango’s prowess in the sunglasses game a bit earlier, having spent the last 2 decades in very questionable frames.
Here’s me wearing the sunglasses the day after my trip to Mango (at Community Festival)
I was so impressed with the accessories in Mango in general. The design details, the choice of fabrics, and the prints – they just don’t feel like run of the mill high-street offerings. They feel a massive step above, with obvious nods to catwalk looks and a high quality finish. A great place to shop if you love designer looks, and covet celebrity wardrobes, but don’t have the most accommodating bank balance.
Just look at these adorable flat tartan mules. With their candy colours, woven texture and frayed hem, they’re Clueless means Chanel.
Then there’s they selection of fruity brights. Tangerine strappy sandals, raspberry coloured wedges, fruit salad court shoes with the cool transparent side panel, mango coloured kitten heels, and pomegranate scrappy mules. These are perfect for daring dressers who love a bit of colour blocking/clashing, but similarly as great for the safer dressers looking to jazz up their LBD’s or pretty white summer dresses with a pop of colour.
One of the items in store I’ve came home thinking about, and lay in bed this morning wishing I’d bought so I could wear with my denim cut offs today. Without a holiday booked I didn’t feel I could justify a purchase of these absolutely stunning print fabric sandals, but my goodness are they beautiful, and I encourage you to find an excuse to buy them. You know the stalls you come across on holiday selling all those products made with beautiful regional fabrics that make you want to buy a whole new suitcase so you can bring a hoard home with you? Well these look like something you find displayed there and I adore them.
They also have some fabulous metallic options, I love this sophisticated slider with its silver knot structure, and these bar sandals are fab if you prefer a bit of support on the ankle.
If you like cute, kitsch or statement, then these were two stand out pairs in store. If I wasn’t the human version of Bambi I’d get these polka dot scrappy platform in a heartbeat. I expect to see a papped pop star strutting her stuff in these very soon.
Imagine those woven tartan sliders teamed with tailored beige or black shorts with a crisp white shirt (and a straw bag on your shoulder of course). Absolutely divine.
This year I have been really embracing scarves, particularly worn as headbands. It’s such a quick way to keep hair off sweaty foreheads, hide unwashed or grown out roots, injects some colour or pattern, and just give a simple ensemble a bit of flair.
These pashmina style fabrics are perfect for covering shoulders when the sun sets and your days summer attire suddenly feels insufficient. They’re also really useful transition pieces come September, when Autumn weather starts to rear its head but your not quite ready to say goodbye to your summer colour palettes.
If I’ve got a bit tired of a bag, or if it needs a bit of a reinvention I sometimes like to tie a scarf round the handle too.
Mango are proving that a statement earring is still very much in demand, with a huge array of tasselled and sculptural examples. Whatever outfit you’re looking to colour match with, they’ve got you covered. Same goes for belts too, with brights, snake prints, woven, western, simple or statement displayed in store.
Stripes were a big story in store too. This stripes blouse looks great teamed with indigo denim shorts – perfect timing for Pride month too!
But if rainbow stripes are a bit too much for you, they have plenty of more subtle, one or two tone stripe pieces too. I love this red/black blazer and belted cheesecloth dress with it’s feature rope straps. It makes me want to immeditaely book a flight to Marrakech to mooch round the markets!
While we’re talking about holidays, not that we need to book one to wear summer clothes at the moment, how great are these crotchet scrappy tops? The perfect hotel to beach cover ups. They have sophisticated monochrome ones, or lovely tropical orange ones depending on your personal preference.
I loved this tiered and frayed tank I found in the sale in this stunning canary yellow. Imagine this teamed with wide-leg, off-white trousers and a tan wedge. For a more casual look teamed with some denim shorts and a black espadrille. The ‘Are You Lost’ t-shirt also spoke to me on a very profound level, I resisted replying to it’s question in public.
Natalie and I were discussing that since we’ve got older and our bodies have changes (‘softened’ is how we put it gently), we’re looking for a very different, more comfortable style of short. To save money I have been trying to squeeze in to my former go -to’s for festival season and garden sunbathing, but the tightness and encouragement of ones bum cheeks to escape is not something I wish to deal with anymore. So while we were pleased for those wishing to still don the teenie weenie shorts that they had a nice selection in store, we were more chuffed when our gaze found rails packed full of looser and longer fit shorts too.
Natalie checking out the gingham numbers…get it? ‘Checking’…oh never mind…..
So for those that like to allow air to get to their bits in summer, I thoroughly recommend a trip to Mango. I loved these loose fit, drawstring shorts in particular. Great to pull up over your swimsuit when you want to head to the beach bar for a mojito.
Behind the till area at the back end of the store is an area that feels particularly well thought out, a bit like a designer boutique area. It doesn’t feel like a high street store as I know it, it’s beyond that. Beautifully layed out, curated with intent, with beautiful oranges and neutral tones purposefully situated together to guide you in creating the dreamiest of summer looks. They even suggest accessories that would complete the look perfectly. This is an ideal one stop for those that need to put together an outfit with haste – perhaps a last minute invite to a summer party, or wedding reception.
Incredible prints were rife throughout the store. Look at this blazer with its repeat pattern print contrasting with a multicoloured horizontal striped at the hem.
I loved the boho feel of many of the prints. Again they didn’t feel like mass produced items, they had a lovely artisanal vibe to them and would make such lovely pieces for your holiday wardrobe. If the big V necklines scare you on dresses, do remember you can always layer, put a boob tube underneath, or even a tee, and your modesty is immediately restored and you won’t have to be constantly on escaped nipple alert.
Most of the jeans in store are a straight or slim fit – they covered all the shades you’d want and expect to find, as well as some more unexpected ones like a punchy bold red. But if the mere thought of wearing a tight denim in summer makes you sweat then they have some looser options for your bottom half too.
I love these pale green belted pleat trousers – team with a simple white tank and a tortoiseshell pair of sunnies and you’re good to go.
You guy already know I’m a collector of checked/tartan trousers so I don’t need to tell you I was instantly drawn to those on the rail. But I also loved all the loose fitting culottes in bright shades.
These kinds of trousers are perfect for holiday. They fold very neatly and compactly, don’t crease too badly, and are the perfect weight of trousers for a balmy summer. If you want to look like you’ve made a bit of an effort but don’t actually want to put together too complex an outfit a statement slack is a swift way to do it. Just pack lots of plain basic tees and some nice accessories to elevate the look.
Denim jackets, we’ve all got one (or seven), right? So it’s really exciting when you find out that’s a bit different, something that gives you a valid reason to buy yet another. I love the long length of this cream one, as well as the retro dropped shoulder, statement stitching and and frayed hemming.
It probably feels a bit weird to see a rail of leather jackets when it’s as muggy as it is in the moment. I made the mistake of wearing PVC trousers on a hot day recently (at Download Festival), and I won’t be doing that again. I unintentionally rein-acted that Ross from Friends moment in a festival portaloo. But I think we are all expecting an abrupt and sad end to our current unnervingly consistent sunny weather and a sudden and sad need to get our winter wardrobe back down from the loft. A lot of my friend have also had travel plans in recent weeks that has seen them dress for much colder climates, so thank goodness some shops are still displaying slightly warming outerwear. With festival season in full swing there are some leather jacket devotees who will always refuse to give them up, whatever the weather – its’ kinda their alt/rock uniform I guess. If you fit into any of these categories they have some super cool and less predictable colour options if you’re in the market for a new one.
I adore a bit of khaki, it’s been a stable of my summer wardrobe for years now. Teamed with crisp white it can make for one of the chicest summer combos. I particular like it teamed with brown faux leather and bright gold jewellery. Think safari gone glam.
This black dress below was one of the items my competition winner Natalie picked out to try on. She was looking for some pieces she could wear in the evening, but one that she should could also get away with at work. On first inspection this chic wrap dress fitted the bill. As soon as she came out of the fitting room she had a huge smile on her face. She didn’t need any reassurance from me, this dress looked like it was made for her and she felt great in it. She knew immediately this this wasn’t an item she was going to leave without. So guys if you’re looking for a dress that can be both smart and sexy, look no further.
She also bought an amazing loose fitting striped playsuit (which I was really envious of and a bit annoyed that I didn’t come away with too). It’s so of the moment with it’s statement wooden buttons, wide leg trouser, and natural tones. But it’s also very classic and effortless so it’s not going to be a one summer wonder. Great choice Nat!
So that pretty much wraps up my first impression round up. I’m so pleased to have yet another store to enjoy when shopping at when the Bentall Centre in Kingston. If you’re looking for accessories in particular I urge you to visit, but they’ve got all your possible summer fashion needs covered, and offers a serene environment where you can get cracking on ticking off that shopping list.
A big thank you to Mango and the Bentall Centre for collaborating on this post. AD