Manchester is a vibrant, exciting city, and you will find it is very different to London. It's a lot smaller and the city centre is over a condensed area. If you're coming in by train, you'll most likely pull into Piccadilly Station. From here, it's most logical to hit the Northern Quarter first. Here, you'll find many independent shops, many with vintage or handmade goods. Spend an afternoon wandering around Tib Street, Thomas Street, and Oldham Street.
Curiouser & Curiouser is an absolute beauty of a shop, along Tib Street. The store houses many unique pieces, some quite dramatic, but all can easily be dressed up or down, with the addition of a vertiginous heel, or a denim jacket. A lot of work has been put into the visuals of this place, with inspiration being taken from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
My friend Jenna's favourite piece was this leopard bustier with attached pleated maxi skirt. I preferred the leather bustier and nude skirt option.
Downstairs is its sister shop, The Shoe Box. Here, hand-picked exclusive labels are displayed in gorgeous surroundings. After I'd been in, Corrie's Michelle Keegan bought the nude heels from the photo, and earlier in the week, Chloe Sevigny paid a visit..!
A little further along Tib Street, there's Kiku, a bespoke corset maker. Definitely useful to know this one, whether you're a budding fashion designer, or buying your wedding dress.
Ready for a brew already?! Take a breather at Home Sweet Home, on Edge Street. The ginger cake there is something else.
Okay, once your tea and cake has digested, it's time to tackle the city centre. Manchester has amazing high-street shopping, and although most of these shops you will find in your local town centre or online, I would say that the Topshop in the Arndale centre is definitely worth a visit. It's big, but not as big as the Oxford Street store, and has a varied selection of items, including things that are only available in flagship stores or online.
There are three main department stores - Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, and House of Fraser - and they are all worth a look in even if it's just to see the different brands and price points they carry. My personal favourite is Harvey Nichols. Their window displays are by far the best in Manchester (the biggest budget, perhaps?) and the average price-per-item in store is the highest, too! Go up to the second floor for fantastic in-store displays and amazingly beautiful clothing and accessories by Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Diane von Furstenberg, and many more.
Harvey Nichols is situated on New Cathedral Street, which houses some high-end flagship stores, such as Reiss, Ted Baker, and Burberry.
At the end of the street is Zara, which is my favourite high-street store in Manchester. The window displays are always interesting, and I love to wander around in my lunch hour, making a wish list in my head. So chic.
One of Manchester's best-kept secrets is Elite Dress Agency, down King Street West (next to House of Fraser). Unfortunately they had put their shutters down when I went to snap a picture, but rest assured they have an amazing selection of everything from Topshop to top names like Prada, all gently worn. There's a pair of Rodarte X Nicholas Kirkwood shoes in there right now that are breaking my heart - if they weren't three sizes too small I would've nabbed them long ago!
In the last stretch of our shopping trip, we head down to Manchester's new financial quarter, Spinningfields. The Avenue North has only opened this week, and has really cute illustrations, advertising it to prospective retailers. I'm excited to see who opens there! (I'd love it if someone could enlighten me as to who these illustrations are by)
In The Avenue, which is quite an established area now, you have more high-end flagships, like Flannels, Calvin Klein, Mulberry, and Kurt Geiger. Take a look at the awesome glass outer of the Armani shop.
And there we have it! You've pretty much toured all of the stores worth a look in Manchester. Do you have any favoured haunts of your own? Disagree with anything I've written? Write me a comment! Although fashion retail is my forté, I can also advise on eating & going-out, or know someone who can help. Enjoy your time in Manchester, and I hope you love the city as much as I do.