What to wear in London & best walking shoes

I'm going to London with my children who are in their late teens and early twenties. I have heard that you should avoid wearing tennis shoes, shorts, t-shirts, baseball hats and bright colors. I've even read that you should wear pretty much wear black. Any suggestions on what to wear? We are American but we don't want to "stick out" or be viewed as culturally insensitive. Also, does anyone have any reccomendations for men's and women's walking shoes?

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1410 posts

Yes, I agree with the above. Check out numerous other threads about this. There are those who favor dressing very casually in shorts and sandals, to cope with the warm weather. Being comfortable in hot weather is a must, but in my opinion you can do this and still not look like you are spending a day at the beach -- which you will not be in London!
darker colors are good, a bit more sophisticated casual wear than your describe. and if you will be going inside any churches, you may not be allowed if dressed in shorts. (not sure if this is enforced in London as much as in Italy, but it is disrespectful to be dressed this way in any case).

I too like to dress more to blend in and not stick out as a tourist, so I stick to dark colors, dark shoes (even tennis are OK if not white!). T-shirts & baseball caps are OK for teen boys -- adults should dress better.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
2846 posts

Don't worry about color! Londoners are very colorful. Don't avoid caps. And lots of UK citizens wear tennis shoes (they call them trainers). I don't wear shorts, but my kids did when they went with us (they are grown now). I do base my wardrobe on black, becasue it is a good color for me, practical and travels well. But I take red shirts, blue, etc. Everything coordinates with everything else. I'd suggest you check out SAS if you want walking shoes-- but K-mart tennis shoes are ok too.

Posted by Rick
Chicago, IL, USA
468 posts

I wouldn't worry about the color at all. Although black can be a good choice for fashion-concious Italy. As was previously mentioned, just don't dress like you're going to the beach or going to do some painting outside. Europeans wear a variety of clothes, including blue jeans. But they don't wear jeans with holes or that are grungy. And they don't wear pajama bottoms as pants. I've seen this on more than a few American teens. White gym shoes aren't forbidden, but they are the mark of being American. If you want to wear gym shoes, try for gray or black. Bottom line, if you dress like you're going out on a date with a girl (or guy) for the 2nd or 3rd time, such that you can be a bit casual, but still want to look nice, you'll be fine. As far as shoes, I've taken my Eccos on about 5 European trips and I swear by them.

Posted by Char
Auburn, ca
48 posts

We wore khaki's & I had dk slacks. Didn't see many people wearing trainers, mostly regular shoes. My husband wore dockers. My husband wore Eccos, tevas, I wore Finns & earth sandals. Don't worry have fun

Posted by Stephanie
Trussville, Al
185 posts

Six of us just returned from London 3 weeks ago. Everyone took tennis shoes for comfort except for me. I never thought any of our group was out of place in their trainers & to tell you the truth I didn't notice anyone else's shoes. Also saw lots of color. Don't know if it was locals or tourists. Just make sure your feet are comfortable & don't worry about your dress.

Posted by j.c.
Cary, NC, United States
842 posts

Dressing like an American tourist won't be an issue in the usual places that cater to tourists.

It may be different if you stray off the beaten tourist path, though. If nothing else, you may feel self-conscious. Brits wear jeans and tennis shoes ("trainers") when they're being casual, but usually not shorts, t-shirts and baseball caps. That's obviously the case in nice restaurants, etc.

Caveat: All bets are off during a local heat wave, which is anything above 75 F. or so. Clothes come off. (And, remember: The Tube has no AC and is hot and muggy in the summer, heatwave or not.)

Blending in comes more from behavior than appearance. Don't be loud and obnoxious. Don't behave like a character on an American sitcom. Don't criticize the place in public. That sort of thing. Treat people with respect and interest and you'll be fine.

Posted by Perry
Pearland, TX, USA
852 posts

Jon, look into San Antonio Shoes (also known as SAS)...
I've owned many pairs and my wife has too. They are good looking, very well made, quite comfortable and we've never had to "break in" any pair, wearing them all day, every day from the first day out.
Contact SAS at.... http://www.sasshoes.com/ Have a great trip! P.

Posted by Rose
Indianapolis, Indiana, usa
355 posts

SAS is great. Traveled to Europe this spring with 2 pairs of shoes. Wore the SAS every day. Bought a 2nd pair of the same shoe soon as I returned home so that I can trade off every other day next trip. Mine have a spongy sole & are OK with both skirts & pants. I think the spongy sole & a good footbed are the 2 things that matter in a travel shoe since you'll be on your feet most of the time.

Posted by Beth
Baltimore
104 posts

My husband and I were in the UK (London, Bath, and Edinburgh) last August. I typically wore capri pants and a casual shirt (not a T-shirt, usually scoop neck or crew neck shirt or polo shirt). I wore brown tennis shoes or sandles. My husband wore khakis and polo or button-down shirts, sometimes he wore shorts and a T-shirt. His shoes were either brown semi-dress shoes or black tennis shoes. We felt very comfortable. Only when going to the theater did I wear a skirt. I noticed that people at the theater on weeknights did not dress up at all, so I might have been somewhat dressed up in comparison.

We also usually carried a light jacket or sweater since it was pretty chilly and rained at least part of each day. I always carried two umbrellas in my day bag.

I think in London epecially you will be surrounded by people of many cultures - tourists and residents. London is such an international city, and I never felt anyone looked down on us or cared what we wore. Be comfortable!

Posted by Alison
Växjö, Sweden
37 posts

I found that I felt very self-conscious in London when I wore clothes I thought were too casual. Now I think the problem was that I was noticing the obvious, that was not obvious to me at the time: I was not there to work. If you are in downtown London, as a tourist, your concern is to wear comfortable clothes that are not sloppy, but do not cause you a lot of problems. However, in any downtown, you are surrounded by people at work. This problem does not exist outside of cities. Within a city, however, darker colors, more formal dressing, attention to details like jewelry and makeup, all make you feel like you fit in. Otherwise, any tourist feels like they stick out, and they do. It's inevitable. As for walking shoes, I only ever buy Munros (the only all-American shoe company left in the States) or Ryka, the most comfortable, well-made, inexpensive shoes (with darker colors and fashionable styles, too).

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

To quote George Mallory..."Because it's there...."