9 Rules For Shopping At Harrods

Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
When you're more Oliver Twist than Kate Middleton, it can be daunting to walk into Harrods, London’s most famous luxury department store. It's clear why the store has such a long-standing reputation for high standards — even the window displays look like glittering scenes from an exclusive fashion show. Doormen in lush green and gold suits greet you, as you wonder if the fabulous people passing through can smell that you occupy the lowest tax bracket. Usually, your idea of luxury is eating in at Pizza Express.
But, while Harrods might feel like seven floors of overwhelming mystery and $10,000 boxes of chocolate, it is absolutely worth exploring, whether or not you're interested in spending any money. It's one of London's most popular attractions: More than 15 million people from all over the world visit the store every year. Exude the right confidence, and your fellow shoppers could mistake you for the daughter of the inventor of toaster strudel. From knowing the dress code to finding the free samples, here are nine ways you can fit in like you've been shopping at Harrods all your life.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Dress To The Code
The rumors are true: Harrods does have a dress code, or as the store calls it, "sensible restrictions" on what customers can wear. According to its website, anyone showing off "intimate parts of the body" or donning a crash helmet may be escorted out. If you think those rules are harsh, take solace in knowing that the store used to forbid flip-flops and shorts — even designer ones.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Scale Down Your Purse
Because of all the breakable merchandise and constant crowds, Harrods has a strict bag policy. If you bring a backpack into the store, you will be asked to wear it on your front, like one of those fake pregnancy bellies. Bring a small purse if possible (all you really need is your credit card, right?), or dodge the Juno look by checking your bag in the Left Luggage department for £10.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Prepare To Be Starstruck
Oh, Cara Delevingne, darling — is that you? Celebrities shop at Harrods all the time: Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Tom Daley are among those spotted recently. Play it cool and pretend that breathing the same air as an international superstar is totally normal. They will appreciate the privacy, and you can tweet about it later.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Make Appointments WAY Ahead Of Time
One of Harrods' most famous features is its By Appointment personal shopping. "Lifestyle experts" meet with the store's top clients, arranging sales of one-of-a-kind jewelry, clothing — anything! Even private jets. Not quite top client status? Never fear. There are appointment-only perks that even common folk can enjoy. For example, the cosmetics hall on the ground floor offers one-on-one makeup lessons and hair consultations — just book an appointment about a month in advance, especially if you want to come in on a weekend, when the store is busiest. If you want to attend a holiday event, like the upcoming Christmas Grotto, start planning even earlier. Those tickets sell out faster than a Beyoncé concert; this year, they were gone in September!
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Avoid The Restricted Section
Though Harrods originally opened in the 1800s as a small grocery store specializing in tea, it now covers more than one million square feet and contains 330 departments. Some of these sections are off-limits to patrons without appointments. For instance, waltzing into the fine jewelry department without a reservation will get you a (metaphorical) slap on the wrist, and actual swift removal. Check out Harrods' store guide before your visit to avoid wandering into any of these exclusive areas.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Practice Your Poker Face
This may sound silly, but it could seriously come in handy. Practice hiding your price-shock face before you venture into the store, so that when you see an Alexandre bunny-fur hair clip selling for over £300, you won’t look like you've seen a ghost (of credit card bills past). Some of the most expensive items don't have price tags because they are customizable: baby furniture, couture gowns, and even ice cream can all be created to your exact specifications and budget.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Come Hungry, Sit Happy
When Harrods debuted its first-ever escalator in 1898, attendants handed out brandy to calm customers who had never set foot on such a contraption before. Sadly, this practice has fallen to the wayside, but dining in Harrods is alive and well, with 32 restaurants and a giant food hall to peruse.

Pro tip: Wait until you're ready to leave before you buy a snack (or whole cake — no judgment) in the food hall. There's no seating, so you have to eat that fancy food outside, probably in the rain, probably surrounded by pigeons.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Respect The Staff
Harrods employees have earned their green and gold: The store has a staff of 4,000 and receives tens of thousands of applications a year. Many of the people helping you in the store are considered experts in their field, whether that's shipping delicate crockery halfway around the world, creating a custom perfume, or speaking Russian, Mandarin, and Arabic. Don’t be afraid to chat with them — they have access to the free samples.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
When you’ve seen one too many opulent accessories, head to level four, where Harrods sells its own brand of bags, trinkets, and bobbles — all of which are far more affordable than anything else on the premises. After all, the store's motto is "Omnia Omnibus Ubique," which is Latin for "All Things for All People, Everywhere." There's sure to be something for you, even if it's just a really fabulous afternoon stroll.
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