We all like to believe we possess a way of dressing that’s all our own, one that makes a statement about who are as a person. Whether it be wearing a bold color, rare vintage jacket, retro jewelry, and the list goes on. While this can be achieved to an extent, we all tend to fall somewhere along a continuum that is deemed appropriate for the region we live in. Having lived in America my whole twenty-something years of existence, I’ve become accustomed to a certain kind of style somewhere close to the conventional norm. If I had to summarize it in words, it may be called “casual bohemian with a slightly offbeat flair.” In other words, I own a lot of jeans, flowy blouses, and the odd funky scarf, or two…or five. Nothing about my style is wild or intricate compared to most other Americans. Little did I know, arriving in London in August 2014 would open up my eyes (and wallet) to a lot of different styles. Londoners are stylish people. Dare I say, they are even years ahead of us in the world of fashion. This is why I thought it would be interesting to dedicate this post to all the differences I have noticed since beginning my journey in London. I’ll list them, as it is easier to follow and more fun to read. Really, who doesn’t love a good list?
1.) Shorts don’t exist. At least they are not worn in the way Americans wear them. On the rare occasion you will spot them, typically tights are worn underneath. August heat on sweltering central London streets be damned.
2.) You don’t have to be a goth to wear all black. If there was a universal Londoner uniform that everyone was required to wear, the color palette wouldn’t even be a question. When in doubt, wear black.
3.) Hipster shoes are more-or-less a requirement. And you don’t have to be one to wear them. But you can’t look like you’re trying either (cue the irony moan). So cut those tags from your Doc Martens, run through the city streets a few times, and they’ll be none the wiser.
4.) London ‘day casual’ is the equivalent of American going out attire. You can’t walk down any street in London at any hour without hearing the click of heeled boots or seeing people in brand new jeans with a coordinated leather bag or perfectly disheveled scarf.
5.) On the topic of disheveled, Londoners have it down to a science. The way they pair a slightly over-sized knit sweater (or jumper as it’s called) with a fleece scarf, rolled up— jeans, and sneakers (trainers) is a skill I have yet to master. Call it “Euro hipster” or “smart vintage,” whatever it is, no one does it quite like a Londoner can.
6.) Layering, layering, and more layering. And I’m pretty it isn’t even related to the damp London air that will send a chill through through anyone’s bones (that’s what mulled wine is for, yum!). I’ve learned that any plain-looking sweater can become a different shirt entirely when paired with a buttoned blouse or flannel underneath. The beauty in this is you can have fun with contrasting patterns and colors to create any style that suits you.
While this list isn’t nearly exhaustive, it gives a quick snapshot of some of the differences I’ve noticed between London and American fashion. It may not be accurate for everyone or even adhering to London as an entire city. However, you can be assured I’m an observant young woman in my twenties with reasonably good eyesight. I’m also open to incorporating new styles into my wardrobe and sharing this insight with others.