London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and it is a real melting pot of cultures and fashion trends.
This can lead to a bit of a fashion dilemma for some visitors to London who don’t want to look like a tourist in a foreign land but also don’t fancy the idea of making a sartorial faux-pas.
The first thing to point out about London and the UK in general, is that the weather is a big deal and a constant topic of conversation because it is so unpredictable. You can see more sunshine in the Spring than in the Summer and the rain has its own idea of when it is going to turn up and have you running for cover.
This makes it a bit of a challenge to know what to wear so that you can cope with the climatic idiosynchrasies and still blend in with the locals.
When it rains
If you have ever watched the Wimbledon tennis tournament, you will have an idea that rain appears unexpectedly and can disappear just as rapidly. What you wear in preparation for this scenario will set you out as a tourist if you are not careful.
The trick is to consider what not to wear rather than the other way around. You want to avoid making a fashion statement that screams tourist, and nothing does that more than wearing one of those hideous bright yellow waterproof sheets.
Many Londoners will carry a discreet compact umbrella in preparation for the rain, which they just pop up at a moment’s notice and carry on with their day. They don’t reach for the waterproof sheet, and neither should you if you want to blend in.
Spot the nationality
Locals might not instantly admit it, but they do like to play a friendly game of spot the nationality, as they witness tourists existing from their London hotels, for a day out in the capital city.
It is quite an easy game to play as you can often easily distinguish an American or Japanese tourist from an American or Japanese person who actually lives in London.
The camera around the neck is an obvious giveaway but there is more to it than that. It is what they are wearing.
A cosmopolitan city like London embraces a mixture of cultures and there is a sense of anything goes when it comes to what to wear on the street. The situation changes when you are heading out to somewhere like a club or restaurant, or for a night at the theatre.
Even a night at the theatre is less formal than it used to be and smart casual is normally ok. What that means is the usual mix of jeans, jumper or shirt, trousers and jacket, but not a tie unless you are going somewhere formal.
What smart casual doesn’t mean is wearing shorts. Nothing screams tourist more than a pair of shorts for your night out. Footwear like walking shoes and trainers should be fine, but you should avoid slipping on those jogging shoes.
Ladies can follow a similar set of rules with an acceptable combination of jeans, trousers or skirt, and a suitable dress, blouse or top.
Part of the attraction of a city like London, is that it still enjoys a lot of formality in its modern culture and residents do like to dress smartly for special social occasions and events.
Wearing shorts to one of these special events will probably have the resident Londoner’s calling for you to be sent to the Tower of London for a crime against fashion, in true British humor.
Men should consider dress pants and a button-down shirt and ladies can cut the mustard in a nice dress and heels.
You will find the people of London are actually a lot more forgiving than the residents of Paris or Milan when it comes to what you are wearing, unless you wear that waterproof sheet and shorts combo for the true tourist look.
Stella Natale is a traveling nurse. She loves to write about her experiences online. Her articles appear mostly on travel and wellness websites.