How to dress like a London local

A lot of tourists are confused about how to dress in London in order to blend in. After all, it’s a large and important city – perhaps that means you should dress up at all times? But then again, it’s very cosmopolitan and it’s in England, not France or Italy – so that could mean that you should dress down. The weather is said to change constantly, so how should you dress for a day when it could pelt down with rain and blaze with sunshine in the space of two hours, along with everything else? And you plan to walk a lot, so how do you make sure you’re dressed both comfortably and stylishly?

London Fashion

Happily, we can provide answers to all of these questions!

1. London is indeed very cosmopolitan – which is to say that anything goes, most of the time. While you walk through the streets you’ll see a huge range of styles, from elegant designer outfits to “Primark chic” and everything in between. The only time you’ll really need to dress up is if you have dinner plans at one of the luxury Lancaster Gate hotels or restaurants, which often have stringent dress codes: no sneakers, sportswear or jeans allowed. But you don’t have to pull out your finest jewels: smart casual is perfectly okay.

2. If you plan to walk or take the Tube somewhere and you want to wear your spiky stiletto heels, your best bet is to wear flats while in transit and change shoes when you arrive. There are lots of stairs and long passageways on the Tube and smart Londoners go for comfort while commuting. This is a very common thing to do, and you won’t look out of place.

3. More Tube advice: it’s very warm underground! In summer it can be sweltering, while in winter it’s just warm. Dress for both commuting and the changeable London weather by wearing a few light layers which you can take off and put back on as required.

4. Between December and March, you’ll need a warm coat: temperatures in winter often hover between 0-10 degrees Celsius, occasionally dipping into the negatives, with January and February the coldest months although December is the darkest. In spring and autumn, a jacket or light coat will suffice, with temperatures between 5-15 degrees, while in summer London temperatures are a balmy 15-25, occasionally up to 30 degrees, perfect for shorts, sun-dresses and t-shirts – plus an emergency cardigan, because you never know. It’s humid all year round, which can make the cold feel clammier and the heat stickier, so dress accordingly.

5. Seeing a show on the West End? You can dress up if you like, but don’t feel obliged – since the shows are popular with both tourists and locals, clothing ranges from practical sightseeing gear to cocktail attire. There is no dress code, so wear whatever you feel comfortable sitting in for a couple of hours. If you’re heading out to a bar or club, you similarly don’t need to dress to the nines – but it always helps.

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