Whether you want to ride the London Eye, see the iconic Big Ben clock tower and Westminster Abbey, take a photo with the Buckingham Palace, tour the Harry Potter studios, or dine in the city’s many incredible restaurants – there are so many reasons why you might want to go to London.
But in a city where the weather is rarely predictable, you can find yourself exploring for hours. You may want to make sure that you’re prepared for your visit and dressed appropriately. It’s always nice to feel like you won’t be automatically identified as a tourist or a visitor. If you want to blend in with the local crowd, you need to learn how to dress like a Londoner.
But to be clear, there is no single generalization about how Londoners dress. Also, the city is a thriving, giant city filled with people all over the world, so even if you want to stand out, you probably won’t because everyone is so eclectic that it all blends together.
These are some helpful tips on how to dress like a Londoner:
1. Observe local street style.
Street style is a great indicator of the fashion trends currently making waves, and London has some very trendy folk walking down its streets. If you’re eager to put together a wardrobe that can help you look like a Londoner, then check out local fashion bloggers and see what they are wearing. You don’t need to imitate their looks from head to toe, but they can surely offer you some much-needed fashion inspiration. Do some Instagram research before packing your bag for your stay in London!
2. Keep it casual and effortless.
Generally, Londoners tend to dress pretty casually most of the time. While there are some areas frequented by men in suits and women in heels, for the most part, being casual is key. Think layered clothes, comfy trainers, and slogan tees. Even on a day out to watch the theatre, you’re more likely to see people wearing casual clothing.
You can prepare a slightly smarter outfit if you’re planning on heading out. But you don’t need to go overboard – London is a really relaxed and casual city.
3. Don’t be afraid to be bold.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re going for a bold look, it’s certainly a place you can get away with trying the latest styles. No matter how loud or bold it is, you can wear an outfit in London without anyone batting an eye. Feel free to let your style imagination run wild, and you’ll be met with nothing but approval by Londoners.
4. Wear natural and dark colors and muted patterns.
You may have read in books that Londoners prefer darker colors. Well, there’s a slight truth in this, but more often than not, you’ll be surrounded not just by Londoner Brits but by people all over the world. Darker colors are definitely more of a London vibe. But if you’re visiting London in the winter or autumn, you can see that clothes with muted patterns, especially stripes, are very common. More natural colors are favored by Brits, and they are not so much about sweaters with giant cat prints or something like that.
5. Layer up.
Generally, the weather in London can be somewhat unpredictable. Even if you went out under summer heat, it could be quite chilly in the afternoon. So depending on the time of the year you choose to visit, you will need to be prepared for a change in weather. Layering your outfit is a good idea, so you can simply add and take away as you want. In the colder months, you will want to wear a good coat.
London climate is ever-changing, so your outfit also needs to be. Wear something breathable, then layer it with a jacket, jumper, or a coat just in case. The city is also prone to an odd rain shower, so bringing an umbrella is always a good idea.
6. Be flexible.
Unlike in other cities, London is notable for its flexible approach to fashion. Embrace the “no dress code” dress code – which means you have more freedom to design your own wardrobe. Attitude is just as important as what you’re wearing, as London’s streets are lined with fashionable folk who play a little fast and loose with established fashion rules. So, whatever you choose to wear, wear it with confidence.
7. Avoid souvenir clothing.
While you may not be able to resist the Union Jack accessories or the “I love London” t-shirts and slogan hoodies, it’s best that you save these things for when you get home. Nothing makes a visitor stand out more than buying tourist clothing. Also, souvenir clothing and accessories can come across as corny for those who actually live in London, so don’t be tempted to wear them while you’re in the city.
8. Pick the right shoes.
So much of London is designed for exploring on foot, so you will rarely see Londoners walking around in high heels or fancy shoes. Despite stereotypes, Londoners aren’t all walking around in brogues or Oxford shoes. Pack shoes that are comfortable – shoes in which you can walk long distances comfortably. There will be a lot of zapping on and off escalators and tube trains, so it’s best to opt for trainers or comfy walking shoes. You can also wear comfy boots during the colder months.
9. Bring a small bag with zippers.
If you’re exploring London all day, it’s a good idea to have a bag with you to carry your things. Busy cities come with the possibility of pickpockets, so make sure your bag can zip up to keep all your belongings safe and secure.
While it’s good to carry a bag that zips up, a heavy backpack or a carry-on can draw the wrong attention, and it can be very inconvenient when you’re walking around crowded areas and when you’re hopping on and off public transport. A small handbag is best, or a leather backpack to be stylish. Have just enough room for your phone, wallet, a bottle of water, and umbrella. A water-resistant bag would be a plus, too.
10. Hit the fashion shops in the city.
London is one of the major fashion capitals in the world, so if you want to dress like a local, head to shopping destinations like Oxford Street. If you’re planning to buy more high-end items, go for areas like Bond Street. In these places, you’ll have a great chance to browse some of the biggest names in both UK and international fashion.
11. Wear a hat.
If you’re a fan of hats, London is your right crowd. You don’t have to go for anything that’s too striking, but hats are worn all year in the city. Try and coordinate your hat of choice with your outfit.
12. Wear a scarf in cold months.
Londoners love their scarves, and during the winter and autumn, you’d see plenty of Brits adorning their outfits with scarves in the city. There are lots of materials, patterns, and colors to choose from. The specifics of the scarf leave plenty of scopes for individuality and creativity, which are both Londoners have in abundance.
13. Mix and match different styles.
It’s rare for common Londoners to wear a matching outfit. Instead, they prefer a little more creativity and contrast. Mix and match fabrics or styles, and there’s plenty of scopes to have fun with while you’re visiting the city.
What to Wear for Men in London
For men, dark jeans and dark pants called trousers are popular. Wear them with plain color sweaters or basic colored shirts. As for your shoes, wear a basic men’s shoe that would look great with what you’re wearing. Avoid running shoes, white sneakers, or hiking boots. Dressy jackets and coats are popular for layering over.
What to Wear for Women in London
Usually, women in London wear dark jeans and a nice blouse (sometimes layered with a coat) or an oversized sweater paired with leggings or knee-high boots. Dresses layered with a cardigan with tights and flats are also popular.
Wear fashionable sneakers or ankle-high boots that are comfy. Avoid Uggs boots or anything that may give off a look that you’re going for a hike or a run. Flats are popular, but of course, heels are best for dressier occasions like fancy afternoon teas in London.
Accessories to Wear in London
Accessories are an easy way to jazz up your attire and make it look more put together.
Jewelries should not be chunky – anything that looks elegant and classy can already take your outfit to the next level.
When it comes to hats, visors and baseball caps are definitely not a London thing. Opt for beanies or berets and other similar types of hats.
Backpacks are one of the most popular bags to carry in London, particularly for commuters who are out all day. Any type of handbag would look great, but not a fanny pack.