What to Wear When Shopping in London’s West End in the ’50s

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Jet-setting across the seven seas, or simply swapping neighborhood spots, What To Wear When is your weekly column for shopping inspiration.

London’s trendy West End is home to many exciting things: restaurants, nightclubs, galleries, hotels, theaters (hence the district’s alternative nickname: “Theatreland”). But it’s the region’s delectable (and ample) range of shops that’s the real draw—at least for the fashion-loving set. From Selfridges on Oxford Street to Liberty London in Soho to Burberry and Alaïa on the swanky Bond Street, the area is oft-compared to the glamorous chutzpa of Manhattan’s Midtown, Tokyo’s Shibuya, and Paris’ 8th arrondissement.

The term “West End” was coined around the early 19th century to define an area of central London—specifically, west of the City of London and north of the River Thames. The bustling district has long-been a favored residence of the wealthy elite due to its proximity to the Palace of Westminster and lack of proximity to the hustle and bustle of the main city, thus earning its reputation for being high-end. From Princess Diana and Grace Kelly to Diana Ross and Sophia Loren, the West End has also been a popular hotspot for the A-list set who fancy some good old-fashioned retail therapy, and perhaps an afternoon tea (or cocktail) at the nearby Covent Garden. Below, shop CR‘s top items to sport while channeling an Old Hollywood icon shopping through the West End.

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