Nikki is not a tourist.

or A guide to looking like a Londoner.

After the bit of time I’ve spent in this country, I have sought to master the art of looking like I actually live here. I have now 3 times been stopped on the street to be asked for directions. So pretty much, I’m an expert.

Here are my tips (ps. these are for women):

1. Wear black tights

If there is any leg covering that British women seem to cherish above all others, it is most definitely black tights. They still wear jeans, leggings, jeggings and other forms of trousers, but any woman who wants to look supremely London-y should always opt for black tights over her other options.

2. Wear appropriate shoes.

Londoners walk a lot (trust me, I’ve experienced this first hand), but unlike Americans who pull on a grubby pair of white and blue New Balances every time they need to walk farther than from their car into the grocery store, Brits make far more attractive shoe choices.These shoes usually fall into one of three categories: boots, ballet flats or brogues.

Boots are most appropriate for day and usually resemble riding boots, motorcycle boots or Doc Marten style lace-ups. Your suede boots from Urban Outfitters won’t cut it over here (because nothing suede really works in London, damn rain).

Flats are good for both day and night (and work wonderfully with black tights).Basic and unobtrusive, they also work great for keeping standing after you’ve gone out and had a few too many pints.

Brogues are one of the more trendy options, and Brits will wear them with almost anything and in any color (though black is a big favourite, as always).

3. Wear black or grey or any dark colour.

The weather in London sucks. Seriously. If the sun comes out for a few hours, be happy because that’s all you’re getting. So the only appropriate response to this wonderful dreary backdrop is to dress wonderfully dreary yourself. Brits love not wearing colour. The closer you are to looking like part of a black and white film, the more you look like you belong in London.

4. Wear Breton stripes and winter florals.

If a London woman ever decides to wear any color, there is a 95% chance that is in in the form of a winter floral. Brits LOVE and cherish this pattern above all else. They wear it in tights, dresses, tops, belts and even in denim (although the last bit reminds me a little bit of kindergarten circa 1995-96). Winter florals are the true key to looking like a Londoner. You really can’t get more British than that.

Taking second place for London’s favourite pattern is the versatile Breton Stripe. Unlike the ever-popular winter floral, it doesn’t actually have any color, but it has been know to provide a visual break in the constant sea of black that is the London dress. The breton stripe works exceptionally well with one London’s other favourite fashion pasttimes – layering.

5. Wear slim layers.

The weather in London is cold. The tubes and buildings in London are hot and humid. (These people seriously fail at temperature regulation and ventilation.) So Londoners layer. Londoners do not however layer like Chicagoans layer. There is no Northface or down involved here. They love nubby sweaters, blazers, trendy jackets and trench coats. They do not love hooded sweatshirts and fleece. (Sorry Northwestern.)

6. Look peaked.

The sun doesn’t shine here. You shouldn’t look like you’ve been exposed to it recently.

7. Walk on the left side of everything.

When you see someone walking down the right side of the pavement (sidewalk) look at them and think “American.”

8. Never ever ever stop moving when you’re in a tube station.

Londoners never stop walking in the underground. Americans stop and gawk at the maps.

9. Look confident but apathetic.

This is just good advice for looking like you belong anywhere. The red buses really aren’t that exciting after the first 15 minutes anyway.

So there you have it. Look London. Embrace it.

Until next time,

Nikki

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One response to “Nikki is not a tourist.

  1. I will do my best

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