A Guide to Shopping in Primark

Posted in Fashion, Writing.

If there’s one shop that completely divides opinion, it’s Primark. Some love it for its budget-friendly prices and ability to recreate catwalk trends at lightning speed, and others think it’s unethical and cheap (not in the good way), offering poorly-made items to the masses.

I sit somewhere in the middle. The prices make it easy for someone like me to indulge in flash-in-the-pan trends and if you look hard enough, you can find good quality items that will last and last. On the other hand, the ethical issue concerns and confuses me (as we discussed in this post, although this video created by Primark in response to a Panorama programme about the brand’s use of underage workers is very interesting viewing) and I hate wearing what everyone else is wearing.

So, over the years I’ve honed my Primark shopping skills. I can be in and out in 20 minutes, I know the items to avoid (socks. They fall down constantly) and those impulse buys at the till don’t fool me. Here’s my guide to shopping in Primark – use it wisely and you’ll soon by yelling ‘Primark! Two quid!’ whenever someone compliments your outfit. Smug smile optional.

Mustard yellow jacket, £18

  • Go mid-week or first thing in the morning, unless you enjoy being rammed by pushchairs and elbowed out of the way by teenagers in too much eyeliner. It’s quieter, the queues are shorter and most of the clothes are still on their hangers.
  • Take a basket and sling it over your shoulder so you retain full use of your limbs. You’ll need these for rummaging and elbowing.

Cobalt blue chinos, £12

  • Look at the label that’s stitched into the clothing and nothing else. Primark items are often tagged incorrectly and everyone knows those hangers lie through their teeth.
  • Ignore anything that’s attached to your garment. Primark belts are plastic and often ugly, but they can be removed. 

Floral dress, £15

  • Don’t let a polyester slip put you off – it can be snipped out at home and replaced with something silky.
  • Check for uneven stitching and bunching around seams – these things are harder to fix and probably not worth your time, but look at a few versions before you give up. Some are better quality than others.

Bird-print blouse, £8

  • See people crowding around a display? Don’t bother. Some Primark pieces are hugely popular and will be worn by at least five other people at that thing you’re going to. 
  • Everything sold in Primark comes with at least one spare button, even if it has no buttons to start with. Keep these – they’re great for crafting, as eyes for teddy bears and y’know, if you lose a button. 

Two tone vest, £4

  • Check the composition of your pieces. Cotton is great, but just looking at Primark polyester will make you sweat. 
  • Just like the buttons, everything in Primark comes complete with coat hanger ribbons. These are largely useless and are guaranteed to work their way out into public view, especially if you’re having a photo taken. Snip them out.

Straw bag, £3 (reduced from £7)

  • A Primark sale might sound like the Armageddon come to pass, but there are some gems hidden among the ponchos and sequin shorts. Be prepared to rummage.
  • Primark accessories are the best on the high street – avoid the plasticky bags and go for necklaces, rings and bangles at £2 a pop. 

Do you shop in Primark? What are your tips for finding the best bargains and avoiding the nasty stuff?



Hey Jen 🙂 I agree with everything you said. I’m from Malta and Primark is a must-stop whenever I visit London. As you said, I really take time in checking the seaming and stitching… it’s a pet peeve of mine.. most probably because I’m a seamstress… But it’s true that you can find some rare gems at Primark: I bought a beautiful short black blazer ala Jackie Onassis last October and it goes with anything.. jeans, a sleeveless L.B.D., smart pants and shirt.. If you’re patient enough you’re bound to find beautiful items which no one

Lakota [Faith Hope and Charity Shopping]

I got a great holiday hat there recently for £3, oh and some sunnies, also £3. I find a lot of the fabric they use turns to swiss cheese within minutes of wearing, although I do have a jacket which has held up well for several years now – far thicker cotton.

High Street Priestess

I’ve got a few great knitted jumpers and cardis from Prada-mark but I am always really careful when I choose them as some styles are made from really obvious (and very cheap looking) acrylic. It’s the fabric that swings it for me! x


I never even looked in Primark before I started Uni, but quickly realised it was ‘the’ place to shop, and even somewhat of a haven, for students. Now that I’m home for the summer, I don’t tend to go in Primark anymore again haha. Great tips Jen, will keep these in mind next time I visit a store.

Funny Little Frog

Love this post, I’m forever trying to persuade people Primark can be brilliant!!Although I don’t want too many people to change there minds or it will never be quiet and everything will be on the floor!! xxx


I’m an anti.

If it costs £2 to buy and Primark are making a profit (you can bet they are!) then someone is getting ripped off. That’ll be the women and children making the garments. It’s fair trade and a feminist issue.

Not just Primark. Designer labels are just as liable to sell you slave-made stuff.

Not for me.


Although I completely agree that the exploitation in the fashion industry (and many other’s) is abhorrent : The fact is that people are being exploited in the western world, too. Many cannot afford to boycott. I, myself, despite working full time am now running out of tidy work clothes. Tried and tried 2nd hand shops / sales – looks like a visit to Primark / Asda is on the cards soon. Albeit with gritted teeth.


A lot of my favourite clothes are Primark from a couple of years ago. Despite its fast-fashion reputation, they do some classic styles, and if you’re wearing something a couple of years later, it’s far less likely that everyone else will be in it.

I do a lot of what you said here (especially ‘PRIMARK! TWO POUNDS!’ – I am incapable of saying ‘Why, thank you…’ mysteriously). My other tip is to replace buttons! I have a blue shirt dress which came with hideous gold buttons and I replaced them with red heart ones. It’s so cute now! Although I may feature it on my blog next week, so act shocked when I rehash that story. 🙂


Great tips! I tend to only shop at Primark for accessories and sometimes tights but I’m hunting down your bargainous straw bag!

I hate the tacky buttons Primark often use – 99% of the time they’re for decorative use only and 99% of the time the garment would look miles better without them anyway! It’s annoying having to replace them all with non-cheap-looking buttons.


Bit hit and miss with Primani. As you quite rightly say – fab accessories and clothing gems definately to be found. However, as a mum of a little girl, the high heels, padded bras and hugely inappropriate slogan T’s for children have REALLY put me off.


I buy a fair bit in Primark, it tends to be the plainer stuff that cant be recognised so much. This year I have bought loads of their tanktop style vests for £2 in black, blue, white and camel. About 4/5 years ago I bought some wide leg linen mix trousers that I still wear. I have bought jeans in there but dont anymore, as the zipos tend to be rubbish.

Alice L

I bought that yellow bird tshirt the other day, very chuffed with it.

I have to say I’m a Primark magpie, it’s pretty much the one shop near my work that’s not run down bar TKMaxx (which stresses me out no end) and I have to say that in the last few years everything I’ve bought has lasted happily. But maybe that’s because I trawl around adding and discarding things for an hour. Getting a whole outfit for under £50 is great incentive to rummage.

Primark is didgy ethically but their policy is prominent on their website unlike most other high street stores. A company constantly under the spotlight must surely act more ethically than others..naive?

China In Your hands

Being a mother of two girls I often find myself in Primark buying my family and I odds and ends (no trashy kids stuff though!). I tend to avoid the shoes, not sure why, maybe my past experience of ill fitting sizes (the very time I bought shoes one week I bought a size 5 the next I was a size 7. For the record Im a 6). Jewelry is always a winner if you can prise yourself away from the bright pink/orange bling. Hair accessories are fab and cheap.

A previous posted commented on sweat shops with women and children working in them and I agree its a real shame (regardless if its designer or primark behind the employment) BUT if these people had no job in the factories they would be forced to work else where and this often leads to the sex industry…. I know if I were in there position which Id prefer but thats a whole mega other debate so Ill leave it there ;o)

Lovely items of clothing youve just shared there!


Sadly living in a village I don’t really get to see Primark that often. I’m so looking forward to moving to a city in September and being able to go mid-week or early morning rather than only being able to make Leeds on a busy Saturday afternoon!



Agree with everything you said! I remember the time back when I was in college that you could yell ‘Primark! 50p!’


I’m another “it was only FIFTY ENGLISH PENCE!” person. Gotta love the odd extreme bargain in the sale racks in there.

I’ve really cut down on the amount I shop in Primark, partly because I’m trying to buy less but partly because, like everywhere, the quality is getting cheaper and cheaper. It used to be that you could find a few things made of thicker cotton or decent fabric that you knew wouldn’t look utter crap after a few wears and washes. Now I find the vast majority of stuff looks awful to start with and is so cheap and nasty I just won’t buy it.

The stuff I do buy is accessories mostly and I think they’re generally of much better quality. Their rings are fab and don’t turn my fingers green and you can find real gems in the bags/hats/scarves section.

And look in the men’s section! Not only is it always much quieter and has smaller queues, but they do really funky tshirts etc that fit women just as well as men.

Lucy Nation

I agree with everything you say in your post and have to say that living in a city with a stupidly large Primark store you come to develop those habits very adeptly. I must say have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of some of my Primark garments given its bad rep. I think you just have to immediately discount at least 50% of the stock and be focused on what you’re looking for. Also… if you have kids, leave them at home whenever possible. Primark + toddlers = nightmare!


Your choices are very pretty, Jen, but as you well know Primark’s not for me.
Questionable ethics aside the whole concept of fast fashion leaves me cold. I’ve never felt the need to own something just because the world and his wife are wearing it.
If you really want something surely it’s better to save up for a top quality piece, then you’ll cherish it and enjoy every minute you spend wearing it? x


Great post. I’m a bit of a love it and hate it about Primark but they seem to have affordable bags so I tend to go for those, or jewellery, accessories they don’t stock decent clothing in size and I think most of its daggy so I shop elsewhere for that. I also like their Cocoa body butter its not as good as The Body Shop’s but for £2.00 I use it in my travel bag for holidays and my gym bag etc. If I lose it, its replaceable for £2.00 and it smells nice too.

Mademoiselle Lala

I would also say – prepare to be annoyed in the fitting room! Seriously. Every time I go there, my adrenaline pumps through my veins. In my closest store you can only take 4 (FOUR) items. That’s awful.

Also, the staff NEVER knows where anything is and they just look at you with a surprised look: what do you want?

Saying all that, it is worth going there to do some digging. I recently bought PJs for £3 and vest for £1. 😉 X

P.S. Don’t forget about my giveaway!



I agree with all of this! I hate how everything is stacked so close together! So only one person can go down one rail at a time -_-

I have noticed sneaky Primark has been raising its prices recently though!

Saying this, I have managed to pick up quite a few decent pieces from Primark in the past – especially crop tops and a pair of denim truquoise shorts! <3


I disagree with you on one point – you can’t even trust the tag inside the garment. Once I got home with a dress that said 10 on the price tag and 10 on the tag at the neck, tried it on and it seemed really big. I looked in the tag at the bottom (the one with washing instructions) and it said that it was a size 16! I couldn’t believe it, and don’t understand why I didn’t notice it in the shop. So I guess the moral of the story is, you can’t believe anything other than your own eyes.

One problem I often find is that the side seams of tops are twisted. I always compare a few of whatever I want to buy to make sure I’m getting the best one. Least wonky button placement, fairly even armholes, etc.


I got a belt from primark and everyone asks me where I got it, and actually do say ‘primark £2’ :L
Some of my friends find lovely things, but I’m still a bit of a ‘primark virgin’. Lovely post though- I’ll defo take it on board!! 🙂

northwest is best

Just want to add another voice to the anti-Primark camp. It’s something I keep to myself in polite conversation but I know you won’t think I’m preaching at you. Although Primark have an ethical policy they can disguise their (possible) dastardly deeds by subcontracting work out. However, I doubt Primark are the only guilty ones on the high street.


Great tips on how to shop in Primark. I often wonder how people find decent stuff in there as my local one is one the scary side and I’ve never lasted more than 5 minutes in there.
I’ve only ever bought a skirt from Primark, and a few socks. I have to admit it’s not crazy cheap like people say. The good stuff is still only a few £’s cheaper than the likes of H&M…which I prefer.


Great post! This has really inspired some interesting discussion. I agree with northwest is best – there is some really shady subcontracting going on out there, and Primark are not the only guilty ones. I started out as a Primark fan, particularly as a student. But what really turned me off Primarni, beyond even the questionable ethics and the often shocking garment quality, is that I find the whole Primark shopping experience intensely off putting. No service to speak of, piles of discarded clothes (which will be rehung in whatever state they came off the floor), huge crowds and funny smells (mostly plastic fumes). Perhaps I expect too much extra for the £2 spent on t-shirt? But other pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap retailers manage to create a more pleasurable shopping environment, so I fail to understand why Primark have decided to create the feel of a second rate supermarket in their flagship store!


I recently used to work for Primark in Bristol, we watched a dvd in our induction. Primark is now part of ABF and ABF has these core issues, they do NOT use child labor and under paid adults, to be honest i think they are telling the truth NOW because have you noticed products are getting made better (not all granted) and prices are rising so maybe this is compensating there new standards hopefully?!?

Emily XxX


Ha – after this I checked in a particularly cape-y top I bought (size 8 according to the tag) yesterday and guess what? It’s a 14!!! Haha. Well it sort of works big anyway…

I managed to spend £40 in Primark yesterday. I use it for shoes (flats mostly) and tops – I got some great smart-looking tops to wear with my very expensive suits (I worked for a really posh clothes company). I don’t think they’ll look cheap at all.

With Primark I try to make sure I buy stuff that I will wear with other things, to balance it all out.


Love this post, I have the same views on Primark but sometimes can’t resist their bargains. I definitely check anything I buy really carefully as some of the items are falling apart in the store and always go early in the morning to avoid the crowds! Love that two tone vest. x


i don’t stop there and i don’t tend to, other than buying my mum presents when she doesn’t say what she wants but that’s some good top tips there. savvy


I often see things on blogs from Primark, and think how nice they look, so will pop up to look for them. Usually I find that they’re not nearly as good in the flesh and I’m not willing to shell out for something that looks and feels cheapie, even if it’s not a huge amount of money. I’d generally rather pay more for something from Warehouse or Oasis that I know will sit well and last. God, I sound like an old lady!


Oooh you’ve created quite the talking point with this post- good on you! I’m going to be awkward and sit on the fence a bit with this one.

Personally I only buy basics from Primark like vests and tights, but occasionally I get waylaid and end up buying something just because it’s a cheap dupe of a designer/Topshop item. I am trying to cut down on Primark shopping and most high street shopping in general just because I prefer car boot and charity shops as they’re a bit more ‘interesting’.

Great post!


Hmm that comment from Emily above is interesting. I would feel a lot better about shopping there if that’s all true. I think I sit on the fence with regards to Primark, too. I mean, I cannot resist going in there early morning to have a browse when I can, but I tend to get a niggly feeling that I’m probably going to end up feeling bad about shopping there because of ethical issues; or more first-wordly, because a lot of the time I realise the items aren’t that great when I get home.

I’ve got to admit though, I tend to love their bags :$ I find the ones I’ve got are a lot more sturdy than bags from more upper-high-street brands (Miss Selfridge, I’m looking at you!) xD


Totally agree with all your tips! Love the floral dress! I have a few pieces I bring back and wonder what WAS I thinking but others I wear over and over again and love (until they, inevitably, fall to bits)…


Victoria Plum

I tend to avoid Primark like the plague … but mainly because my local branch is Croydon (yeah … all your Primark nightmares and times them by 100!). I did however pick up some very reasonably priced babygrows there a couple of weeks ago.


Primark does my head in constantly with the whole love/hate issue, mainly because I work there and also shop there (almost exclusively) due to the crappy wages I’m paid(!!) I do like a bargain, and I usually go for things that will last – good fabrics/materials, well made, prints I like, basics – never for trend led items unless it is something I really love and know I will get wear out of.

And on the other hand I do not agree with the way the clothes are made or all the pollution that is caused by fast fashion. I would much prefer to shop somewhere better and buy more well made items that are not mass produced, but until such time as I can afford to do that, Primark is where I will stay.


what a great post! I don’t shop at Primark for the simple reason that the nearest one is either in Rotterdam (Holland) or In liege (150 kilometers away from where I live in Belgium). I have been in to one in London, wich was so crowded and messy that I ran the hell out of there after 5 minutes. In Barcelona, last week, there were less people but the racks were almost empty… x


Their leggings are always WAY too tight at the bottom so I buy them, snip them and turn them into legging shorts that can be worn under summer dresses when its windy so there aren’t any accidental shows. It also helps with chafing if you’re a little larger.


I also find that going in to Primark an hour before it closes is when its quiet and quite tidy, also good for people that work late on Oxford Street because that store closes at some redonkulous hour like 9.30pm! xoxo


I have to dive in and be patient enough to find the best ones in Primark. I found quiet a lot of great stuff there recently. And the great thing too, I am petite and I admit, I also checked on the Girls section. I fit ages 10-12 :)hehehe

Lexine Keeler

Hey 🙂 Great blog! I love Primark, for the bits you need but I always take a proper look! Its so easy to impulse buy in there! Thanks for your tips too, I’m off to Primark in my lunch break! Ta ta! Lex


Primark tees are fab. they wash and iron well and its it gets tatty or stained, it doesn’t matter for £2.50 – £3. i bought a maxi dress from there last summer and it’s still fab now so on payday i’m going to have a good look around for this years holiday.


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