Dress Codes

Our first week here, a group of about eight of us went and sat in a circle right in Russell Square park. A friend from W & L was on her way, but did not know the area and was worried about finding her way and picking us out in the park. She spotted us from the street before the entrance to the park and took a panorama picture. It showed from left to right people in all dark colors, kind of blending in before a sudden shock of color hits the screen. There was no need to worry about finding us. Yes, W & L is as a whole very preppy, but in London it is laughable how much our group stands out. It did not take long for us to realize that we stood out as Americans before we even said “Hello”.

As a whole, Americans generally wear colors British people wouldn’t. Different brands are popular, which is obvious but worth mentioning. We wear shorts, they really don’t. Haircuts are wildly different. As Fox pointed out, summer fashion here is less important, because summer isn’t really as much of a thing. One thing I have noticed about European fashion in general, however, that I find amusing, is the fixation on the U.S.┬áPeople in London who have a hippie-type, trendy-look wear clothes that have American cities written on them, most often New York. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen someone, clearly not from the U.S. wearing either an American sports jersey or again, a shirt that simply reads “Los Angeles”. My personal favorite was a guy wearing a tank top that said in giant letters, “New Jersey”. That was it. Nothing else. Just New Jersey. I would have taken a picture but I think the guy could have eaten me. While wearing clothes that reference America are cool,┬ábeing American is not. Talk about disappointing.

I found it interesting that the British are not supposed to take dressing seriously. In America, it is taken very seriously. It is an interesting cultural difference that only begins to make sense after gaining more experience here. I have found that the more time I have spent in London, the easier it has been to understand why certain things like this are.




  • I think it’s really interesting that someone chose to wear clothing that said “New Jersey,” since in America most self-respecting people wouldn’t do that in fear of being associated with the Jersey Shore. I agree that Americans have a very distinct style of dress when compared to Europe. When I got here for Spring Term, many people in my class (including myself) always joked about how we didn’t look “Euro” enough, or how we needed to buy more black clothing, because we thought we looked “too American.” I’ve never looked for European tourists in big cities like New York before, but it will be interesting to see coming back if I can pick out tourists the other way around based on the different styles of dress.

  • Bobs,

    I’ve had a lot of the same observations you have had these last seven weeks. Sure, you tend to hear about Europeans wearing all black and having a very “euro” look, but I was pretty shocked when we got here. I thought that even though London is…was (?)… a European country, certainly there would be some a semblance of a “summer style.” When I pictured summer in London, I imagined people wearing Wimbledon whites, colorful dresses, and maybe a few of those fancy dainty hats here and there. But nope! Brits have a pretty distinct style. I was talking to another guy we met while we were in London, and he pointed out that British girls really don’t ever wear tight pants. Instead, they often wear loose gaucho type pantaloons. Pretty cool. Another thing I think a lot of us realized is that the easiest way to spot an American is by a baseball cap. They just don’t wear them like we do. I think we all picked up on how different our fashion is from theirs and tried to blend in as best as possible often. I tried to for the most part…my white jeans stayed in the closet a lot more over those seven weeks than they ever would’ve in America!

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