GIVEN Cath Kidston's signature style - her Portobello shop is filled with romantic Fifties-inspired printed clothes and fabrics - it isn't surprising that she likes to shop at antique fairs and markets. "I go to Portobello market a lot because I'm a local and I have my contacts there. I usually go on Fridays, often just to get inspired rather than to actually buy."

Some of Kidston's contacts are a closely guarded secret. "A lady in Cumberland" supplies her with antique eiderdowns which she loves for the fine quality of the colours and the printing, and "someone in Wales" supplies her with antique blankets which arrive in bin bags to her shop. One secret she does share is Bryony Thamasson's antique textile stall (at 283 Westbourne Grove, London W11, Saturdays only, or by appointment on 0171 731 3693). In the same area Kidston also visits her friend Sheila Cook, an antique costume and textile dealer (184 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel 0171 792 8001). "It's a real treasure trove there, she has a really amazing eye for beautiful vintage handbags."

Cath Kidston divides her time between the city and the shires. "I live half in the country and half in London, and I love going to village fetes and car boot sales, I look out for them in local papers." A twice monthly flea market at Kempton Park race course (enquiries: 01932 241867) is especially favoured. "You have to go early - you can get everything from a lamp to a garden bench."

The queen of floral prints loves her garden. Aside from "hundreds of packets of seeds" which she forgets to plant, Kidston enjoys shopping mail order for plants. The Romantic Garden Nursery (Swannington, Norwich, tel 01603 261488) in Norfolk, which specialises in topiary - artfully shaped greenery - recently delivered to her country home. "It was nerve- wracking watching it come off the back of the van in case it had been damaged - I've never ordered anything like that before."

Back in London, the Peter Jones (Sloane Square, SW1 tel 0171 730 3434) branch of John Lewis has real sentimental value for Kidston. "I go there for everyday things: knickers, saucepans... I find it really comforting because I used to live in that area when I was about 18. It's so old-fashioned and it never changes. In the haberdashery they sell those see-through rain bonnets and something to stop your bag falling off your shoulder - who buys these things? There's something quite cheering about the whole Peter Jones thing."

This Notting Hill retailer, however, usually prefers smaller shops to department stores. "For my home I like any of the 15 or so antique shops on Lillie Road in Fulham, (I don't usually buy contemporary house stuff) and for clothes I like Graham & Green [nos. 4, 7, 10 Elgin Crescent, London W11, tel 0171 727 4594]. "Otherwise I wear the label Anonymous (available from Cath Kidston, 8 Clarendon Cross, London W11, tel 0171 221 4000) designed by a friend of mine." Current favourite accessories shops include Lulu Guinness for bags (3 Ellis Street, London SW1, enquiries: 0171 221 9686) and The Jacksons (5 All Saints Road, London W11, tel 0171 792 8336). "I'm coveting one of their fantastic sheepskin bags in deep purple or red at the moment." When Kidston isn't wearing her plain summer plimsolls she wears velvet mules by Emma Hope (enquiries: 0171 833 2367), and shops at LK Bennett (enquiries 0171 491 3005) for "great everyday shoes". The cashmere specialist shop Brora (344 Kings Road, London, SW3, enquiries 0171 736 9944) wins favour too.

In fact, Kidston would quite like her husband to buy her a Christmas present from there...