London is an extremely fashionable city. People certainly dress to impress, and it works. Even the simplest outfits look like they should be modeled on a stage. Young men look especially dashing in button-downs and blazers, and young ladies are always classy in dresses or nice pants. I’m continually awed by the fashion scene here, and wish I could look half as good as they do on a daily basis. The first thing I noticed about British fashion is that everyone wears skinny jeans. Men, women, kids and teenagers seem to prefer the tighter, slimmer fit over the looser boot cut style that’s popular in America. Patterned pants are making a comeback over here, too, especially on young ladies. I can’t say I’m a fan of floral pants, but I do like the skinny jeans. I like to think that wearing them with a nice shirt and scarf help me fit in with the locals more. It’s definitely nicer than my usual boot cuts and t-shirt (that is more often than not somehow related to my college).
On that note, scarves appear to be a staple in women’s wardrobes. They’re a cute addition to almost any ensemble, especially with a solid-colored shirt or blouse. Scarves come in quite handy on sunny but blustery days when you want that extra touch to keep you warm and fashionable. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve bought five scarves since I’ve been here. They’re easy to find and affordable, which is a bad sign for my bank account, but a great sign for my closet.
One fashion trend I’ve noticed over here is the combination of shorts — a lot of which are high-waisted — with tights or leggings. I’ve seen it done with skirts and dresses, but generally not with shorts. I don’t know how I feel about this trend. London is generally cooler than where I live in the States, so I could understand wearing tights for an extra layer. But as a fashion statement? I don’t get it. Maybe it’s just always so warm in the South that I never needed an extra layer with shorts, because I wear shorts when it’s hot. But somehow they make it work, and I can’t fault them for looking good.
From my observations, living in London—or any city, for that matter—requires a decent amount of walking. So you’d think the locals would wear shoes that are fit for traversing across the city on a daily basis. I cannot imagine walking as much as I do in some of the thin sandals and flats I’ve noticed. Maybe they aren’t as prone to shin splints as I am, but feet need support to walk that much. I don’t know how they do it! I’ve noticed Sperry’s and similar styles aren’t too common over here, likely due to the lack of need for it, unless you’re boating up and down the Thames regularly. I see boots every now and then, too, but flats and strappy sandals definitely dominate foot fashion.
Your next question is probably, “where can I find all these awesome clothes?” London offers some fantastic shopping, and it’s available on almost every street. H&M is a popular store, as are Top Shop and Next. Top Shop reminds me of a cross between H&M and Macy’s, and Next is more similar to H&M. I browsed through a Next and Top Shop, and wanted almost everything on display in both stores. My favorite London shop I’ve found is called Jack Wills University Outfitters. It’s like a Tommy Hilfiger for college students, and I want everything from it. But even on sale, it’s out of my price range. My bank account should be very thankful for this, and that I don’t have easy access to Jack Wills in the States. Maybe…maybe…if I’m still within my budget at the end of my trip, I’ll treat myself to a Jack Wills shirt or sweater.
On the whole, I love the London fashion scene. It’s unique and chic, and I know I’ll feel odd going home and reverting back to my denim shorts and maroon t-shirts. But I will enjoy it while my time here lasts, and maybe I’ll feel nostalgic whenever I wear one of my scarves back home.
Kate Robertson is a features writer for Pretty Southern, and a rising senior at Virginia Tech studying communication and English. Originally form Atlanta, Kate plans to graduate in 2014 to launch a professional career in writing and public relations. Follow her on Twitter @kate3robertson.