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What to wear

I've been told not to wear a Hawaiian style shirt in England.
What about shorts, tennis shoes, baseball caps and straw hats?

Posted by
10344 posts

It is indeed fortunate that Michael has updated us on the latest EU regulations concerning shorts! (see his post above)

I had heard about these regulations, but had not seen the details--I think very few Americans are aware of how serious the repercussions could be if someone goes over there and doesn't know about the latest changes in the law.

(accordingly, I've referred this entire matter to the RS Helpline Subcommittee of Fashion Police, for further deliberation and the promulgation on this forum of more detailed instructions, stay tuned!)

Posted by
495 posts

Well I'm English and as it was sunny I wore shorts, tennis shoes and a baseball cap last weekend - if that helps.

I'm never quite sure what Americans mean by these type of questions:

If you're wondering if they are "acceptable" which often seems to be asked then yes. There is no "dress code" in England. The clothes you listed are casual so will be acceptable at casual places. If you go somewhere that requires smarter dress then very casual clothes will not obviously not work - of course that's common sense not travel advice.

If your asking if you'll blend in or see lots of "locals" wearing the same... then maybe not.

Shorts are less common than in the US reserved mainly for casual weekends so during a normal tourist day chances are you won't see many shorts.

Tennis shoes are dirt common, you'll see loads of people wearing them unless you go to places where smart dress is required - we call them trainers. They are much less common with the older generations.

Baseball caps are mostly worn by people working in the garden (me) and urban (in both sense of the word) youths.

Straw hats? That'll pretty much be you and the scarecrows.

Posted by
977 posts

Victor I thought straw hats were only required in extremely hot and sunny climates. You did say you were going to England didn't you.

PS I hope you were kidding about the hawaiian style shirt

Posted by
932 posts

Oh my god, Michael. I'm crying I'm laughing so hard.

Posted by
10957 posts


Here are the rules:

Hawaiian shirts ok as long as you have a camera around your neck (non digital, think instamatic), are wearing shorts (Long Bermuda style preferrably in a loud color), and a straw hat. Tennis shoes are okay but sandals with black socks are preferred. And don't forget the glob of white sunscreen for your nose. You should have a map in one hand and a bottle of water in the other.

Leave the baseball cap at home. Being from Michigan yours will probably say "Detroit Tigers" and everyone knows the English root for the Indians.

By doing the above, people will think you're a native and enourage you to join them in singing "Rule Britannia."

Posted by
780 posts

I noticed that even in Winter in London, people werent wearing Parkas. They wear long woolen coats (mostly black)and scarves and maybe leather gloves - not winter mittens.

I noticed that women and girls wear black or colored tights with long shirts or with shorts. And they also seem to wear boots more than sandals in London. I was there in winter and spring and it still seemed like Sandals arent very popular like they are in the US. Maybe because it rains so much?

I made a good choice in my disguise to not look American as I had brought a long black sweater and my Burberry scarf I had just gotten right before my trip (a fluke, found it at a consignment shop and figured I would like a fancy scarf for my trip).
It seemed like Burberry scarves are very commonly worn so it really helped me blend in. That, and the loop they use to secure it (I had to figure that one out since I noticed they tie scarves differently than they do in Colorado!).

Posted by
445 posts

I agree with Tami.....and remember that it is not as cold in London in the winter compared to the northern part of the USA/Canada. I live near NYC and always feel that it is so mild while I am there.

And no parkas are not worn as much as the USA/Canada.(except in the country)

I always wear a long coat, bring scarfs (everyone wears scarfs) and dark trousers (never pants in the UK). Women do wear boots a lot but I think they are uncomfortable to wear all day while touring. I always wear clogs which I find very comfortable for a day of sightseeing... Nice plain black ones.
Leggings are currently very popular under skirts but they leave your feet bare if you don't wear boots!!!
Uggs are very popular anad although I own a pair I could not walk all day in them!!! Tights are good but I always bring trouser socks as well in case it is too warm for tights.

You will be surprised at the number of flowers you will see blooming in winter..pansies, primroses, etc.
It is just not that cold by N. American standards.
And surprisingly, it does not rain all the time!!!

I basically dress the way I would in New York for the day which is not casual.

Posted by
2 posts

This is great fun.
I think I settle for a pitch helmet, combat boots and a swagger stick.

Posted by
1838 posts

Peter has it right on the money. The British are real people too, and as such they wear real clothes, just like we do. Though it was quite warm in May, we saw almost no shorts except on kids. Jeans and trainers are, like here, the modus operandi of the ordinary Brit. We wore our caps, and didn't see many of them, but that's between me and my dermatologist. The British are fabulously warm and friendly and not one person checked out our attire (jeans, T and Crocs x 14 days)) before helping us out or sitting in a pub and chatting for hours. You'll have a fantastic time.

Posted by
4 posts

To Michael the shorts man, My family would call that a CSM.....coughing spitting moment. Carry on!

Posted by
8976 posts

How about a contest? The first person who posts a picture of themself wearing these shorts in front of a recognizable European monument wins some sort of prize:

Posted by
416 posts


That's just advertising that you have crabs...

Posted by
103 posts

Very funny posts. I tried to be so careful about what I wore on my first trip to Europe last year....all the talk about not wearing white sneakers and how well dressed the Europeans were....This time (leaving in a week) I am wearing my white sneakers!!!! I suffered so much with blisters even wearing special expensive sandals that I bought for the trip. I'm a nice dresser usually and hope to be still on the trip in spite of my white sneakers! Comfort is far more important when you're pounding the pavement all day!

Posted by
1829 posts

Why do sneakers (trainers) have to be white? Don't they do them in more interesting or darker colours? Must say the thought of wearing white shoes for walking on dusty or wet city pavements does not really appeal.

Posted by
103 posts

Not much here. You can get some in black but I personally think they're ugly.

Posted by
3428 posts

I wear black leather walking shoes- but my hubby usually wears brown or black trainers. They look like walking shoes, but are very comfortable for him.

Posted by
15 posts

Flew into Heathrow on Thurs, went to Bath for a few days and am now in London for the next week. I have been paying close attention to footwear just out of general curiosity...I am an American BTW. I have mostly been wearing a black pair of Keene sandals but I have a pair of flip-flops and a pair of slip-on Privos. I have rarely seen the white tennis shoes, but the few I have spotted have been on Americans, not that there is anything wrong with that, just not my style. I have seen alot of Converse of both male and females, trainers/athletic type-shoes in different colors, and flats on ladies. Have seen the black tights/leggings everywhere with the long shirt/shorts over them. Just my observations so far! Twice people have thought i was a local and stopped me for directions so I must be doing something right?! I am just wearing what is comfortable to me and basically what I would wear at home in the US.

Posted by
970 posts

Our UK travel sites full of people asking what they should wear in the States?

Victor, here is the first thing you need to remember: No one in the UK really cares what you wear. If you saw a British tourist in East Lansing wearing a Hawaiian shirt, what would you do? Nothing, right?

Dress comfortably and appropriately. That means casually for typical tourism. If you book a dinner at classy restaurant, sure, you may not want to wear your running shoes and that shirt. If you're mixing business with tourism, bring along your State-side business clothes

You will see fewer folks wearing shorts and casual shirts during the week in the UK for an obvious reason: They're going to and from work. Same thing happens here in the U.S.

It was hot in London last week. Look around the web for photos from that heatwave and you'll see that pretty much everyone is wearing the same thing people in Michigan wear when it's hot.

I've lived in and spent a fair amount of time in the UK. I'm going back in October. I'm planning on taking jeans, a pair of dark casual slacks, a few shirts, a couple of pullovers, and some kind of lightweight jacket. I'll wear my favorite running shoes and won't pack a second pair unless I commit myself to doing something out of character like deciding to actually eat at a snobby place.