The high-end chain fashion shops in Oxford (Karen Millen, Coast, etc.) tend to be concentrated on the High Street, though you will find other interesting independents tucked away on Little Clarendon Street, Summertown and beyond. Some of the most popular bigger stores and a few indies are listed below.
The better-endowed ladies at Daily Info can recommend Bravissimo (8 Broad Street, 01865 790023) for a free fitting that may revolutionise your shape, comfort and posture. They estimate that 40% of UK women are wearing the wrong bra size. It's a very girly but quite nice place to go and choose pretty bras in larger sizes.
The more petite ladies can advise you that Wonderbras do work, and are located in Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and doubtless other places too.
For classic clothes, try Jaeger (13-15 Magdalen Street) or the designer sections in Debenhams (Magdalen Street). Both sell high quality dresses, separates, knitwear and outdoor wear and correspondingly high prices.
The following main contenders are available in central Oxford:
'high street' chain stores
Monsoon, 35 Queen Street
Tel 01865 240685
Good quality day and evening wear with an ethnic tendency. Some beautiful prints and designs, which you won't find anywhere else. The only trouble with originality is that it costs rather a lot...
Next, 20-21 Cornmarket St / The Westgate Centre / Cowley Retail Park
Tel 0870 3865315
Definitely a cut above the other chain stores, if more expensive. Classic and up-to-date fashion, including separates, dresses, coats, lingerie, shoes and knitwear.
TopShop / TopMan, Queen Street
Tel 01865 240278
Trendy, sparkly delights loosely based on the latest catwalk releases, such as skinny young things wear in pictures on Myspace.
Primark, The Westgate Centre
Tel 01865 248072
As directly above, only far cheaper and more likely to fall apart. A sewing machine is a recommended associated purchase. (How do they make it so cheap? We can think of a few answers.)
Some other posh, interesting shops about which we know little are as follows (we're a scruffy bunch - do tell us more if you know it):
Hobbs Ltd 115 High St, Oxford, OX1 4BX - 01865 249437
Kaliko 114 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4DB - 01865 244453
Next to Nothing Avenue 4 The Covered Market, Oxford, OX1 3DZ - 01865 246919
Toast 103 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BW - 01865 723436
out of town
TK Maxx, The John Allen Centre, Between Towns Road, Temple Cowley
Tel 01865 773734
For designer fashion at knock-down prices. Be prepared for elbow knocking, jumble-sale style, as you will have to do some rifling through the racks to find the good stuff. Also assorted homewares.
Japlene, 6 Windmill Road, Headington
Tel 01865 764251
Tailoring of wedding and other formalwear, plus a wide range of accessories.
The Ballroom, The Plain (Magdalen Bridge roundabout)
Tel 01865 2020303
Premade vintage and not-so-vintage gowns available to try on in huge exotic dressing room. Alterations and hire possible.
For traditional menswear and service (ie, they call you 'sir'), we recommend the following:
Austin Reed (Cornmarket, tel 01865 244510); Shephard and Woodward (109-113 High Street, tel 01865 249491) sell academic dress, college scarves, ties etc and do evening and academic dress hire (they also have have a school outfit shop in Summertown. Tel: 01865 554559); David Clark (19 Broad Street, tel 01865 247773) who do made-to-measure suits and will undertake alterations; and Walter's (Turl Street, tel 01865 241848) who do evening dress hire, upmarket shirts and are good for large sizes which you might be hard pressed to find anywhere else, also made-to-measure suits.