Planning what to pack for London and the UK just got a bit easier with this seasonal packing guide! Read on to find out how local travelista, Lottie with The Ambling Explorer, recommends that you plan your own travel wardrobe when you travel in her home country.
What to Wear in London and other parts of England
British fashion is partly defined by the country’s infamous weather. It is unpredictable and changeable and when the weather man on the television tells you that it will be sunny all week, be prepared for rain. What to wear in London has everything to do with the weather.
No matter the time of year, always keep a travel-size umbrella in your purse.
In Britain it’s easy for the traveler to stick out like a sore thumb – walking boots, convertible zip leg trousers, SLR camera, guidebook and a backpack in the middle of London can easily scream “tourist.” Sadly in some parts this can make you a bit of a target but it’s also easy to blend in with the locals. British fashion isn’t quite as chic as the French, isn’t always as slouchy as American or as zany as Australian. But then again, I’ve seen people dressed as pirates on the tube and no-one bats an eyelid.
Like anywhere, pack for the environment – are you spending your time café crawling in the cities or getting lost in Scottish wilderness?
Also remember that Britain is one of those places where if you forget anything, you’ll be able to pick it up when you get there (and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.) So don’t be afraid of packing light. Try to stick to a small selection of colors to make it easier to mix and match your items.
Need help downsizing your travel clothing? Read TFG’s Capsule Wardrobe Essentials eBook!
Leather Gloves / Beignet or Nay Hat / Boucle Plaid Woven Scarf / Long Sleeve Pockets Coat / Leather Jacket / Long Sleeve Loose Dress / Long Sleeve Chiffon Blouse / Long Sleeve Hollow T-Shirt / Striped Long Sleeve T-Shirt / Stitch Sweater / Super Slim-Fit Jeans / Lonny Jeans / Flocked Leggings / Opaque Tights / Loafers / ‘Stirrup’ Boot / Lucky Penny Boot
What to Wear in London and the UK in Winter
December, January & February
For city exploring don’t be afraid to break the “don’t take your jeans traveling rule“. They aren’t appropriate for hiking but I can’t think of anything more ideal to wear walking round London on a frosty winter morning.
Find out how to choose the best jeans for travel.
Winter is cold and 2013 has been predicted to be the coldest winter for 100 years (global warming etc.) The key is to wrap up warm – wear lots of layers, (especially if you don’t fancy bringing a heavy winter coat along) and drink plenty of tea.
When planning what to wear in London pack tights, leggings and knee-high socks for extra warmth. Don’t forget the essential winter woollies either –hat, scarf and gloves.
Wear leggings or tights under your jeans for extra warmth. These leggings are a popular choice with the TFG readers and are lined with fleece.
Footwear – I find a comfy pair of waterproof ankle boots perfect. Soggy feet aren’t fun, neither are blisters. Be prepared for the wet as well as the cold.
Ankle booties are the perfect choice any time of year.
Trench Coat / Denim Jacket / Oversize Mohair Sweater / Striped Loose Dress / Woven Shirt / Organza T-shirt / Striped Loose T-Shirt / Super Slim-Fit Jeans / Print Trousers / Leggings / Cute pair of shoes / TOMS Slip-On / Pair of Boots / Scarf / Auto Open & Close Umbrella / Opaque Tights
What to Wear in London and the UK in Spring
March, April & May
In spring it rains a lot. I usually carry a compact umbrella with me at all times in the UK, so that I’m always prepared for spontaneous showers – not just in spring.
Spring is that transition period between winter and summer, so layers are still important when planning what to wear in London, but in the later months think about swapping that chunky coat for a regular jacket.
Transform a temperate outfit on a chilly day with a scarf, hat and tights. Skirts are fun but remember that it can get quite breezy so you’ll have to wear double layers underneath.
If you’re in the countryside you’re bound to see waves of differing spring flowers and baby lambs, but remember to be prepared for the mud.
It’s not uncommon to see people wearing these Hunter rain boots on very rainy days.
Drawstring Trench Coat / Denim Jacket / Cute Basic Tops / Floral Casual Slim Dress / Linen T-Shirt / Long Sleeve Loose Blouse / Striped T-Shirt / Drawstring Pant / Leggings / High Rise Skinny Jeans / TOMS Slip-On / Lucky Penny Boot / Tassel Flat / Scarf
What to Pack for a Trip to London and the UK in Summer
June, July & August
Summer can be warm but can also be very wet – be prepared for both. Check bbc.co.uk/weather/before your trip to get the most accurate forecast. Don’t be surprised if it’s grey and gloomy in the summer!
If the forecast calls for sun, be bright and bold as you plan what to pack for London! Crack out the summer dresses, sunglasses and hats. Once again, be aware of the breezes so you might want to consider layering – sometimes jersey skirts and dresses hold their shape better than wispy skater styles.
A cardigan and a scarf are essentials layers to any summer outfit in case the sun decides to go in.
You can never go wrong with a light leather jacket for cooler summer days and nights.
A comfy pair of sandals are great for walking about town on warm days but ankle boots and ballet flats are ideal the rest of the time.
A note on bags: Personally I am a big fan of satchels for cities and rucksacks for countryside. I often feel that a satchel with a zip can be safer than many daypacks, which can also be unnecessary for city exploring.
Find out why cross-body purses are the best travel shoulder bags for women.
Oversize Houndstooth Coat / Leather Sleeve Dress / Open-Knit Sweater / Long Sleeve Print Blouse / Striped T-Shirt / Rolled-Up Sleeve T-Shirt / Striped Loose T-Shirt / Cigarette Pants / Super Slim-Fit Jeans / Leggings / Opaque Tights / Pair of Boots / Flat Shoes / Loafer and Over Flat
What to Wear in London and the UK in Autumn
September, October & November
Autumn is my favorite season in general and also to dress for. I love the crunchy leaves, the mild weather and the earthy colors.
As the transitional period between summer and winter, things start to get colder and milder in the autumn. When planning what to pack for London this time of year it’s time to think about a woolly hat and light waterproof jacket such as this one.
If you’re a skirt and dress person rather than a trouser person, then leggings and opaque tights are essential to make outfits a little warmer.
Scarves are extremely useful and a warm knit option will help keep you warm during this transitional season. When it’s not quite cold enough for a coat, then a jumper or cardigan combined with a hat and a scarf will do. Remember, layering is key!
5 Important Packing Tips
- Dress for the weather, activity & environment – make sure you’re comfortable.
- Always carry an umbrella with you.
- Scarves are extremely versatile – in the winter a chunky knit will keep you snug whilst in the summer a lighter scarf can help protect you from the sun.
- If you’re not used to colder climates, still plan for “winter” weather YEAR ROUND. Layers are key!
- If in doubt, bring an empty suitcase and head to the nearest Primark to stock up on cheap clothing that is both weather appropriate and locals approved!
When you’re planning what to pack for a trip to London and the UK, follow these travel tips to keep you in line with the fussy weather. Thanks for this helpful post Lottie! Don’t forget to check out The Ambling Explorer.
What are your tips on what to pack for London and the rest of England?
- Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring
- Lonely Planet England (Travel Guide)
- 10 Step Packing Guide for Europe
- The Best Carry-on Suitcases for Europe
Please read our Ultimate Packing List for Europe featuring stylish outfits and travel tips for 9 countries.
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Author Bio: Lottie is a student and traveller form the UK, currently spending a year studying in Queensland, Australia. She likes hiking, knitting and cooking roast dinners. Lottie can be found writing about her experiences and travel musings onThe Ambling Explorer; she’s also on twitter@AmblingExplorer