Dress code for the UK...

Mar 4th, 2004, 03:48 PM
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Dress code for the UK...

Hi there,
Can I dress comfortably and casually throughout the UK and not scream tourist with every step? I am especially curious about London. The reason I am asking is that when I traveled through Spain and Portugal I often felt a little underdressed in simple skirts or shorts, T-shirts and sandals - while many of the locals and European tourists were dressed up (read heels and designer ensembles)
While in Peru we were totally comfortable in hiking boots and simple comfortable clothes. (This made it easier to travel with a backpack that?s for sure)

We plan to travel all over - cities and small towns and with backpacks. Besides one good outfit for Tea, Dinner or a show - Do we need to pack as though we are dressing to impress? Don't get me wrong - I do have taste (no black socks with sandals here ) and I would say even our casual is conservative, neat and clean?. I just don't want to stick out like a sore thumbs or feel uncomfortable.

Thanks in advance.
lilly is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 04:30 PM
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Lilly, Lilly, Lilly . . .

Prepare yourself. I know M_Kingdom is just waiting to pounce and berate you soundly for your question.

Have patience. There are people on this board who are actually helpful. Even to new posters like myself.

Loisde is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 04:43 PM
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Of course you do not have to dress to impress. At the tourist sights and attractions - anything goes.

Just wear or change into "nicer" when visiting "nicer" places.

Given the anything and everything other tourists will be wearing, you're not likely to stick out.

And, nearly everywhere you go, your patronage is more important than what you are wearing.
djkbooks is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 05:41 PM
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I know that my question sounds shallow or silly but I can?t be the only one here that has ever felt out of place or regretted their packing job once they arrived in a particular city? If I had dressed as I did in Spain in Peru for example I would have, for the most part, looked way over dressed.
Oh and for the record - I am not afraid of M_Kingdom. I have been a long time reader and I don't understand why anyone even acknowledges M_Kingdom?s mean, spiteful and mostly ridiculous comments at all. I think that everyone here is entitled to their questions as well as their suggestions and advice. But why let this obviously crazy and horribly rude person contribute at all? Why should we all be made to feel stupid or embarrassed or at the very least annoyed.

?There is no such thing as a stupid question?!!!!!!
lilly is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 06:17 PM
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Lilly, I agree with you totally, and I say bravo to you.

If we don't ask, then how will we know?

From my one trip to the UK, I can tell you that I observed many, many, many exposed pierced navels -- not that I want to emulate that -- but my point is that I felt comfortable wearing clothes as if I were sightseeing or visiting a destination here in the US. And if you are recognized as a "tourist," (gasp, gasp, back of hand to the forehead with a flourish) just smile and say, "Yes, and I just love being here."

Loisde is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 06:23 PM
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Thanks Loisde, That's all I wanted to know. I figured the UK might be a little more laid back that Spain was, just wanted to confirm.

lilly is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 06:24 PM
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lilly: Your question is not silly. IMO, Brits tend to dress in a bunch of categorizable ways: 1) totally frumpy, so nothing you wear will look any worse than what they are wearing; 2) totally freakish, so nothing you are wearing will look as odd as they do, and 3) pretty normal, so if you wear what you wear at home you'll probably fit right in. You might want to dress it up a bit beyond shorts and t-shirts and sandals because in Europe in general things are a tad more formal than in the States, but I wouldn't change my wardrobe because of a trip to England. It's not Peru, but still, I'd modify the hiking outfits a bit.
StCirq is online now  
Mar 4th, 2004, 06:26 PM
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Not to worry ... a smile and a postive attitude is really all you need.
historytraveler is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 09:41 PM
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In the 1930's Mahatma Gandhi, to publicise his poilitical objectives, frequently appeared in Britain wearing little only a dhoti.

One or two people thought he might have been a little under-dressed (especially during the pre-global warming winters we had in those days).

But no visitor since then has attracted a nanosecond's attention for their clthing deficiencies.

There are a couple of exceptions to what I'm going to say (like the posh bits of Royal Ascot, or the £120 and over seats at the Royal Opera House). But only the sillier tourist rip-off tea places are likely to be relevant to the average visitor:

Those apart, the British dress code is to wear what you like - and under absolutely no circumstances to do anything that implies disapproval of how others are dressed. It is simply impossible for a visitor to feel underdressed.

And we don't ever dress up to go to the theatre.

Commentators on this board who say "in London you should...." are always describing their own tastes, rather than the norm in the world's most tolerant (and frumpish) city.
flanneruk is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 03:48 AM
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Our London hotel had a tennis court, so I decided that my white tennis shoes would also be my walking shoes on our trip last month. I wasn't about to take up valuable suitcase space with dark shoes just to appease the fashion police. But eventually, despite myself, I found myself wishing I had dark shoes. It's shallow, I know, but the feeling of being branded begins to seep under your skin. It's not quite like wearing an "I'm With Stupid" T-shirt, but on the verge.
guy is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 03:52 AM
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>....the world's most tolerant (and frumpish) city. <

True. Our last trip, in the Notting Hill area, we found restaurants in the 20-35 GBP pp range where the staff wore Tee shirts.
ira is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 06:53 PM
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One reason I love London is that it is indeed so unfashionable and frumpish. I can be myself! When I lived there as a graduate student, I fit right in with my penchant for the subfusc, roomy frocks, matte tights, and sensible shoes. As a tourist in London these days, I still find I fit right in.
sandykins is offline  
Mar 6th, 2004, 02:57 AM
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It's back to our old friend "smart casual" isn't it?
Plain T shirts, skirts or lightweight trousers are fine. So are sandals. You'll see all sorts of badly dressed people in the UK, but why emulate them?
Personally, I think that baseball hats look stupid on people over 12 year old and that shorts should only be worn by people under 30 in age and waistline but that's just my opinion.
As for m-kingdom, he/she is pulling the collective leg. He/she is doing an Anne Robinson and each posting has a large wink attached. It's that British irony thing again.
Mar 6th, 2004, 04:25 AM
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Hi Lilly,
You need not worry too much.
Uk people are notoriously badly dressed.
The very worse thing is a 40-50 something man with a huge belly wearing his local football teams shirt !!! AAARRGGGHHH.
Sports track suit and expensive trainers are also frequently worn by these people and look terrible IMO.
If you want to look smart just wear comfortable smart casual and you won't look out of place.


Mucky is offline  
Mar 6th, 2004, 04:36 AM
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Just got back from London, and I have to say I felt quite "overdressed" at times. I had the(my) obligatory black pants, shoes, and trench coat. I felt like I should attend the opera or something ;-)! Brought blue and black jeans and felt MUCH better wearing them. Went to see the Complete Shakespeare in said black pants sweaters and blazer and FELT much too overdressed, next play, I wore jeans!
Judyrem is offline  
Mar 6th, 2004, 07:44 AM
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Since you are a tourist, there's really not a big problem looking like one.

But anyway, people in the UK and Ireland have absolutely no idea how to dress in the summer. Men like to wear dark socks with shorts (usually too small) and trainers (sneakers/tennis shoes), often pulled up. Older men like to wear dress shoes with shorts. You'll also see men of all ages wearing those nasty short-sleeve dress shirts with a tie, and even go so far as to wear them with shorts (at least no tie).

Women here seem to handle summer a bit better.

People in the UK and Ireland seem to breathe a sigh of relief when autumn comes, and they can start to dress better again.
Ann41 is offline  
Mar 6th, 2004, 07:58 AM
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Re "flanneruk" and "ann41"

I could not agree more with you. What tourist fail to understand is that unless they talk the talk, and walk the walk, my apologies for using such a dreadful expression, they are always a tourist.

I am fluent in French and Spanish, yet when visiting France and Spain, I will be seen as a tourist, by the way I act, my accent, etc. Back home in London i can always tell American tourists as they are the polo shirts tucked into trousers brigade - trying too hard? As for "designer ensembles" only the more fashion concious and well heeled Londoners do this. If you are neither fashionable nore well heeled then why make an effort to pretend you are when in London? As two previous posters have said London is "frumpy".

Dressing up to go to a relatively casual place looks so much more naive than dressing down to go to a smart one.

Hopefully all these dressing dilemmas will disappear, can people really be so blind as to post the same question over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again? (how naff and American my style of writing is becoming)
m_kingdom is offline  
Mar 10th, 2004, 04:41 PM
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We are planning a trip to London, Poole and Scotland in June. I have been told not to wear t-shirts, etc. with writing on them (i.e. Harley shirts, restaruants, bars, etc.) Is this true? I am most comfortable in jeans or shorts and t-shirts. (Even though I'm over 30, I still wear shorts!)
dan_b is offline  
Mar 10th, 2004, 04:48 PM
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Yep, m_kingdom, you're right. You are definitely naff.

You called it, Loisde.
BrimhamRocks is offline  
Mar 10th, 2004, 04:59 PM
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Dan - why would you not wear a t-shirt with writing on it? They are everywhere, usually with semi explicit logos such as "FCUK" and "Sex on the beach" etc.
Also, nobody should worry about looking like a tourist in Central London at any time because the whole place is packed with them. Even the Brits look like tourists when they go to London as they clutch their maps and get lost on the Underground!
Mind you, shorts really are a give-away (PLEASE don't wear white socks with sneakers/trainers)!! LOL
AR is offline  

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