British Fashion Trends You Need to Know

If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the 90’s, it went straight to England. British fashion trends are not mirrored by the country’s grey, cloudy exterior. Instead, bright colors, abstract prints, overlarge sweaters with floral leggings, and Oxford shoes are the must haves that work their way into most British outfits. If you’re thinking of studying abroad in England but don’t want to be known only as “that international student with the lame trainers,” knowing how to look British is important. To help you out, here is a handy breakdown of English clothing style and some tips on how to blend in with a crowd that was born to stand out!

How to Look Like a Local in England

Leggings are a girl’s best friend.

Studying abroad in England is awesome, one of the reasons being that England is the place where comfort and style merge. To all the ladies, leggings are a must in England. You can wear them with skirts, giant sweaters, or even shorts, but make sure you have at least three pairs. Not only are a fashion staple and the secret to how to look British, but they will they keep you warm on the colder days. The thing about British outfits is that fashion should also be practical (i.e. appropriate for the chilly weather).

Black leggings go with anything, but you will see leggings of all colors and prints. Don’t be scared of walking around with brightly-colored gams: anything goes! 

colorful building in Shoreditch, London
England can be grey at times, but a splash of color (on buildings or in your outfits) really cheers things up

More than one way to tie the knot.

Scarves of all dexterity, color, and length are staples of English clothing style. Having a scarf wrapped around your neck is something you’ll get used to for both men and women. It’s something, along with an umbrella, you’ll want in your bag. Even if you don’t have an umbrella, a snood (scarf and hood) can be useful if caught in a rainstorm (which is bound to happen sooner or later). 

The infinity scarf is a favorite in British fashion trends because it doesn’t require tying, but the most common way to tie a scarf is to double it, wrap it around your neck and loop the leftovers. On a related note, men sometimes wear victorian-inspired ties instead of scarves, worn as a cravat or loose bow.

aerial view of St. Pauls cathedral, London
Get lost in the eclectic fashion scene in London

Look sharp for class.

Unless you just got out of the gym, sweatpants are not seen in a British classroom. Both guys and girls look very well put together and professional in academics; this is more for respect of the class and the professor than to impress the cute classmate next to you. This doesn’t mean you need to wear a suit and tie to class, just don’t be sloppy. 

Even jeans are minimal. Guys usually wear trousers or skinny jeans of all colors and if girls aren’t wearing leggings only, they’re wearing a dress with tights or leggings. Simple wardrobe staples like a nice blazer and a crisp white shirt will get a lot of wear in England, as they can be worn casually but still look effortlessly tidy. 

Big Ben in London
Don’t stick out like Big Ben – learn how to dress English style!

Black leather jackets will warm you right up.

When the sun does come out, even a little, you don’t want to miss it.  Wearing a black leather jacket – one of the most popular after the peacoat in true British style clothing – attracts the sun directly and surprisingly keeps you warm on the almost sunny days.

Wellingtons are a necessity.

Wellingtons, or “Wellies” as they’re sometimes called, are the basic rubber boots that are a classic find in England. They can be fashionable, but are mostly used practically. It rains a lot in England, which means a lot of puddles and even more mud. If you plan on attending any festivals while studying abroad in England, make sure you have a pair of wellies with you. You will learn to have a lot of love for them.

Girls, do NOT wear heels; they will get stuck in cobblestones and are just plain uncomfortable on the sidewalks. If you want to think fashionable during the day, think practically too.

People picnic in the London fields, London
Casual, practical, and cool are the cornerstones of British fashion

Where to Find British Style Clothing

The easiest way to kit yourself out with British style clothing is to hit the stores where locals shop. The most popular shops for both men and women in England are the usual culprits: H&M, Topshop, Urban Outfitters, and Primark (British Target) are found all over the place. 

Thrift shops and vintage boutiques are also immensely popular and despite having vastly different wares, the overall look achieved by shopping at these stores is fairly uniform. Big, baggy woolen jumpers, oversized coats, and vintage hats are all standard items in English wardrobes. The most important thing is to carry these pieces off with confidence.

Understated sophistication and style, crazy retro looks, and recycled vintage: British fashion trends are a mixed bag of looks. International students in England will be happy to know that most of these looks are easily pulled off, so you will look like the local “it” crowd in a jiffy.

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