It was our first time to England, staying for ten days. What was the main thing I was concerned about? Fashion. Blame it on my Shaker upbringing when there were different clothing rules for every occasion. Oh, what to wear! I knew my American accent would make me stick out, and that I could control the volume of my voice, but would my clothes fit in? Would carrying a backpack make me look like I was a college student or a tourist? People traveling to England recently told me that no one wears sneakers. Would my shoes be walkable and yet fashionable? People here in the States seem to make a big deal about shoes.
As it turned out, my worry was for naught. Riding the Tube gave me plenty of time for fashion observation.
Many people wore backpacks — men, women, young and old, both in London and in Oxford. If women carried purses, the strap generally went over one shoulder and across the chest to the opposite hip. Men also carried “man bags” very similar to women’s purses and in the same across-the-chest way.
Women’s shoes? 80% were black flats with sometimes a bow or buckle on them; 15% were sneakers, leaving the other 5% in heels. Although once I saw a young woman in a short black skirt walking near Trafalgar Square wearing black net stockings and no shoes on her feet at all.
Shorts? About 1% of women (teens, mostly) wore short-shorts. And about 1% of men wore shorts — can you say tourist?
There were also Indians and muslims in long dresses.
We met a man from Canada who had lived in England for four weeks. Even though it was in the 70’s most of the time we were there, he complained about how he had to wear jeans and long-sleeved shirts every day in the summer there because it was so cold. Um…wait a minute. I’ve been to Canada many a time, mostly camping out. 70’s is not cold. I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective.
So, when going to London, no need to worry about fashion. Simply wear comfortable clothes (and don’t speak loudly).