Wondering what to wear in London as a traveler? This London fashion guide should answer all of your questions!
London is one of the places in Europe with endless breathtaking attractions, thought-provoking museums, and romantic neighborhoods. Unlike other cities in the world, London keeps a great hold on its history and origins. This can be seen in their nostalgic architecture and the way locals dress & act.
If there’s anything else you should know as a traveler, it should be that British weather is unpredictable. Sometimes, sunny mornings end with rain, and chilly days turn into warm afternoons. Regardless of the season, you must be prepared.
Want to learn the ins and outs of London fashion so you can dress like a local? Keep reading!
How Do Locals Dress In London?
Locals in London tend to have a fondness for vests, earthy colors, dark colors, and academia styles. Most outfits start with a button-down and are finished off with an argyle vest and some trousers. Wearing a button-down alone is probably the most casual a Londoner will go. You’ll see locals with cotton t-shirts, but not many of them. It is part of the London style culture to look tailored, neat, and dressed up most of the time.
Londoners are traditionalists. They are not as playful and eccentric with fashion as American and Parisian styles. London outfits usually won’t have more than three colors into one outfit and tend to lean into neutral colors.
The second thing you’ll notice among Londoners is the literary and Academia ‘Uni’ vibe. This explains why they love argyle fashion, vests, and dark colors. You’ll see a lot of penny loafers and ankle boots as well.
Their style is more conservative, edgy, and masculine compared to American & French/Parisian styles. If you want to blend in without losing your personal sense of style, just try to stick with your dressy outfits and leave your relaxed athleisure alter ego at home. In other words, leave the sweats, the Crocs, and the Ugg boots behind (or reserve them for a different trip).
For a London fashion trip, a good fit is key.
Essential London Fashion Packing List
If you’re wondering what essential London style pieces you should pack, here’s our list!
White Button Down
There’s nothing more essential in a London fashion packing list than a good quality white button-down. A button-down can be a base for any outfit and can be reused many times in one trip. You can put on a vest, a coat, collar jewelry, or use it as a cover-up for a summer outfit. You’ll need a button-down in your London style wardrobe regardless of the season!
Having a knitted vest is both stylish and practical for London weather. It is resistant to chills and rainy weather, but it is also not as bulky and hot for a warm change in weather. You’ll know why a knitted vest is a must-have when you get there. During summer, you can even wear it as is. The best colors for vests are navy blue, black, and beige.
Thermal Tights Or Leggings
Before I recommend tights as a part of your packing list, I should emphasize that tights should not be worn as sports attire. As much as possible, try to steer away from sweater-and-leggings ensembles to avoid looking sluggish. Thermal tights can be worn under a dress or a skirt in fall or winter.
Turtleneck Long-Sleeved Top
Turtleneck tops are essential for a fall or winter trip, but they are also chic to wear with trousers if you’re feeling a minimal London style. This keeps you warm while making you look dressed up and tailored, even without accessories or a blazer. A plain turtleneck long-sleeved top is also perfect for balancing outfits with printed maxi skirts and pants.
¾ Sleeve Top
If you’re still unsure of the weather, a ¾-sleeved top is a good option. This keeps you warm when it’s a bit chilly, but it also does not restrict air when it turns sunny. It’s the best alternative to an outfit with a vest. During late fall or winter, you might want to tie a jacket around your shoulders when the cold gets unbearable.
Sleeveless Blouse or Tank Top
During the warmest days of summer, a sleeveless blouse comes in handy. If a dressy blouse is not something you have available, you can opt for plain sleeveless tank tops to pair with flowy maxi skirts or shorts. A tank top can also be used as a base for outfits with blazers. As much as possible, don’t wear tank tops with leggings to avoid looking lazy or sluggish (unless you’re going to the gym, of course).
Summer is for maxi dresses no matter where you are in the world! Maxi dresses create a summery, laid-back vibe that perfectly defines a trip for pleasure. Just be reminded that some maxi dresses can make you look touristy. To blend in with the locals, you might want to pick maxi dresses that are neutral in color. For your footwear, opt for walking sandals, instead of flip-flops, to avoid looking sloppy. Loafers are a great option too.
Every Londoner has their favorite trench coat – be it khaki, leather, or wool. Trench coats can often be seen during spring, fall, and some parts of summer when the breeze is cold.
I recommend bringing a trench coat regardless of the season you’re visiting London, especially if you’re not bringing any more cover-ups. They’re versatile, stylish, and chic, which makes them the perfect cover-up to wear in pictures. A trenchcoat is a London fashion must-have!
If you have more room to spare, a handy pocketable rain jacket can be useful, especially during the summer when the weather fluctuates from sunny to rainy. Rain jackets can also be utilized for early morning runs or quick gym sessions.
Compared to a bulky trench coat, a rain jacket is more sufficient, especially if you’re not meeting anyone from work or going on a smart-casual event. I especially recommend bringing a rain jacket for your London outfits if you’re visiting in the spring or summer.
A fleece jacket is one of the layers you can utilize during the coldest months of the year. London winter can be really harsh and wet, so a thermal fleece jacket can be really useful in reducing the layers that you have to put in. You will only need a long-sleeved top, a pair of bottoms, and boots to finish off. Some people can get cold fast, so the layers still depend on how much you can tolerate.
As mentioned earlier, Londoners love to wear tailored, smart, and masculine fits. A staple blazer can be used in different ways, even in outfits that are not meant for a smart-casual occasion. Personally, a blazer is something I’d wear to a museum visit. I’ll style them with dressy shorts and knee-high boots. For formal occasions, you can wear a matching blazer suit and loafers.
A blazer is a London fashion must-have for all four seasons!
Pleated Mini Skirt
London is a literary-inspired country, and it’s a great way to commemorate this style your way! For a chic academia look, you want to get a pleated mini skirt (school girl skirt) to pair with a vest ensemble. You can cover it with thermal tights or stockings if you need more leg coverage. This would be a perfect piece to wear in fall!
If there’s any piece as versatile as black shorts and black jeans, it would be a black midi skirt! Midi skirts are great for both brunch and evening dates or for sightseeing. If you’re looking for a midi skirt for the evening, you might want to look for skirts made with satin and velvet materials. A linen-cotton blend, rayon, or rib-knitted midi skirt is ideal for an airy, light feel for sight-seeing London outfits.
A pair of dressy shorts can go a long way. They’re comfortable, airy, and easy to wear. Compared to sweat and denim shorts, dressy shorts can be worn with a minimal top without looking sloppy. Dressy shorts can be packed during late spring, summer, and early fall.
If you’re invested in denim shorts, bringing them to your London trip is no problem! You can pair your denim shorts with a dressy blouse to keep it smart and neat. This gives the outfit enough contrast to look good during sightseeing activities without sweating with trousers during the trip. You can pair them with walking sandals or loafers.
Classic Denim Jeans
Nobody can beat classic denim! If you’re up for classic casual looks, a pair of unbleached classics can be a luggage space saver. Classic, straight-leg jeans must be part of your London fashion packing list.
You can brew up to three or more different looks with just one pair. Since denim is made of thick fabric, it can be more resistant to dirt than trousers. Investing in a good one should not be hard to think about!
If you’re used to wearing leggings, it’s time to switch them up with black or dark trousers, especially when you’re wondering what to wear in London to actually look like a local. Londoners have a pet peeve with sloppy outfits, especially if it consists of leggings and sweats. A tailored base like this can give you a free pass to wear a t-shirt.
Shoes To Wear In London
Shoes are just as important as clothing when it comes to London outfits! Here are our must-have shoes for your trip to London.
London weather fluctuates very often and wearing a pair of ankle boots as soon as you walk out the door shields you from anything that can happen, rain or shine. Ankle boots are also chic and edgy, which makes it a great statement piece for your outfit. Alternatively, you can wear combat boots, if that’s your style.
Universities in London influenced the use of penny loafers both inside and outside the campus. Penny loafers are classic pieces that go with any London-inspired, academia-styled outfit. They’re versatile, and good quality pairs usually last a really long time. You might want to get penny loafers with chain embellishments for extra shine.
Wedges are great alternatives to high heels because they elevate your fit without compensating for comfort. Wedges are, however, only limited to day trips. They are not suitable for wearing to formal events or dinners. If you have similar plans, you might want to stick with kitten heels or block heels instead.
Sandals (for sightseeing)
As much as possible, avoid wearing flip-flops, even when you’re out on a day tour. It is considered sluggish and lazy. Walking sandals made with tactical material or leather is the best options to keep a smart look, even with open-toed footwear. If possible, also try to avoid wearing Crocs or Uggs.
Ballet flats are dainty and feminine, perfect for adding contrast to a tomboy-style outfit or complimenting a flowy maxi dress. A pair of these are also useful when switching from heels after a long, exhausting night. Trust me, they’ll save you from blisters!
High heels are a must-bring item if you’re visiting London. If you’re going for pleasure, you are likely to visit museums, restaurants, and tourist attractions requiring a formal dress code. If you have no plans, you can choose not to bring a pair. When spontaneity arises, you can always grab a pair when you get there.
London is often cold and windy as they tend to have shorter summers. This common occurrence affects the locals’ wardrobes, making them fond of all-terrain footwear like boots and loafers. It’s usually easy to spot a tourist when you see people who wear flip-flops, Crocs, and Uggs. Partly because they are American brands but mostly because they are not that flexible when weather fluctuations happen. Sports shoes are also worn scarcely but are certainly more accepted than the former.
What To Wear In London For Every Season
Wondering what to wear in London during a specific season? Scroll down to the time of year you’ll be visiting!
What To Wear In London During Spring
Although spring is a season of bloom for other parts of the world, London is usually bombarded with spontaneous rain showers and chilly evenings. It is a transition period between the coldest and hottest months after all, making it difficult to choose appropriate London outfits.
When we think of spring, we think of flowers, pastels, and bright colors. A great way to incorporate the blooming aura of the season is by adding one element of color to your outfit. It is important not to go overboard with colors as it can be too bold of an outfit for London. It is still crucial to remember that Londoners are particular with choosing neutral and visually palatable colors when coming up with their outfits.
Remember that it’s still not the right time to switch from your thermal coat to a thin jacket for your outerwear. In the first months of spring, there’s almost no difference from winter when it comes to London fashion so practical measures still have to be considered. Skirts and short dresses are great, but you might want to keep on the thermal tights and double layers to stay comfortable.
During the day, you might have to wear casual shoes that you would not mind getting wet in puddles or mud pools if you’re visiting the countryside. A nice pair of leather boots or waterproof sneakers are the best and most versatile options you can pack during this time of year. Heels can be worn later in the evenings, but a handy pair of ballet flats (that can at least get you through slippery streets safely) is good.
What To Wear In London During Summer
Like anywhere in the world, Summer is when you can wear anything you want without adding a thermal layer. From dresses, and skirts, to dressy shorts – the sky is the limit for London summer!
Bright days ahead are expected for most London summers. For a day trip, you might want to wear a maxi dress and a denim jacket for a bit of tailored contrast. You can switch up the dress for a sleek blazer, sleeveless top, and shorts for a neat and smart fit.
You can wear walking sandals or loafers freely as a part of your summer London outfits. Opt for a formal black or satin dress paired with high heels during the evenings. If you’re going somewhere more laid back, you can choose to wear ballet flats instead. However, I suggest not skipping the dress, mostly because a night in a historically rich city like this can be romantic regardless of who you’re traveling with.
Despite the sunshine, London will always be London and showers will happen. You’re wrong if you think you will not need outerwear in London during summer. A light jacket, a poncho perhaps, is something still useful to have. Shoes that you don’t mind getting wet is also a plus. For an easy outfit switch, a cardigan or a shawl comes in handy if you’re already set to wear a summer dress or a dressy sleeveless top.
What To Wear In London During Fall
If London had a personality, it would be Fall. You’ll notice that Londoners tend to wear clothes from fall all year round, just in lesser layers for warmer months. Londoners also love an earthy fall color palette of dark brown, khaki, navy blue, and olive green. Wearing those colors as part of your fall London outfits is definitely the move.
Fall is a lot like spring. The weather fluctuates very often and chilly sunny mornings are to be expected, but there is nothing cozier than a fall afternoon in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Fall in London is like a dream and London style is perfect for this season!
It’s time to pack your long-sleeved button-downs, knitted vests, midi skirts, trench coats, and knee-high boots for your London outfits. I personally love layering in fall because the weather is undemanding of bulky pieces. I tend to have more freedom to layer and manipulate my silhouette during the autumn season.
What To Wear In London During Winter
Visiting London in winter is not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re up for a visit, you’ll need adequate gear and proper outerwear to sustain comfort for your stay. And to me, it feels like London fashion is specifically geared towards winter, with lots of stylish coats and boots to get you through.
In winter, especially when it really gets cold, layers are important. Try to be creative with your layers if you don’t want to wear a bulky, heavy jacket. Play with fabrics and texture to add character, depth, and color to your London fashion fits.
A great foundation outfit you can consider wearing is a thermal turtleneck shirt, white jeans, trench coat, and scarf. You can also try a knitted sweater and a long leather coat. Footwear that you don’t mind getting wet, like waterproof shoes and/or chunky boots is also helpful. I personally recommend wearing boots with chunky lug soles because, aside from their trendy and chic look, they can keep you safe and dry from wet walkways.
London Outfits For Inspiration
Still can’t find the perfect fit? Here are some more of our favorite London outfits for your vacation.
Hopefully this London fashion guide gave you a good idea of what to wear in London and what to pack! Happy traveling!