Are you looking for what to wear in London? You are in the right place! I lived in the British capital for years, and I am here to share my knowledge, packing skills and everything you must know before you pack for London.
Although London is a huge city known for many things on the world stage, it’s not known to be fashion-forward as other European cities such as Paris, Rome or Milan. Having lived there for years, I can however tell you that there certainly is a London look – eclectic, unique, eccentric if you wish. In general, people on London’s streets embrace comfort over fashion. Sure, most people look good, but they also look comfortable and laid-back. And occasionally you’ll see some that are truly dressed up.
If you prefer to get up, get dressed, and ready with little to no fuss, London is a place where you can do just that and no one will give you a second look! In fact, the most common outfit you’ll see in London is layers, slogan T-shirts and sneakers. Do you want to dress up in your favorite dress and heels at noon? Go for it because no one will care!
London is a big city with a lot of ground to cover, so the most important thing is to dress comfortably because you’ll be doing a lot of walking in a climate that sometimes changes several times a day. The only time you might be required to wear something more formal is if you plan to enjoy dinner at a Michelin Star restaurant or go to any venue that has a dress code in place.
Before I tell you what to wear in London, let me point out a few things you need to consider before you pack.
Things To Consider When Planning Your London Packing List
Due to the city’s fondness for casual dress and eccentricity, you’ll find it easier to pack for London than for many other cities. However, there are some things to take into consideration when preparing your London packing list, so that you pack the things you’ll need and leave behind the things you don’t.
Londoners are lucky in that they experience four distinct seasons, but they’re unlucky in that half of those seasons can churn up some unpleasant weather conditions!
Summer in London is often described as pleasant. It’s rarely too hot or too cold. That being said, London does see more rain and fog than many other major cities and the evenings can get cool. Heat waves are also becoming more common in the United Kingdom – and the country is absolutely not prepared for that (think buses with no air conditioning!).
Fall in London can also be described as pleasant although the weather does start to turn colder and wetter later in the season.
In winter, it’s not unheard of to experience heavy snow and subzero temperatures but generally, you’ll experience rain and mild temperatures hovering just above freezing.
Spring in London brings with it a mixed bag of conditions ranging from warm and sunny to cool and rainy. This is the hardest season to pack for!
The type of luggage you pack should reflect what you plan on doing during your trip and how you plan to get around. If you’ll be taking public transportation to get to your hotel, be sure to pack something easy to carry on and off trains and buses.
Metro stations in London rarely have elevators, and some of them don’t even have escalators. You’ll have to deal with a lot of stairs to get in and out of certain stations. A bulky suitcase will slow you down in these situations and is harder to lift when needed.
If you’re getting a private transfer to get to your accommodation from the airport, it won’t make a difference what suitcase you take.
There are many ways to save money if you’re on a tight budget and one of those ways is to pack less. Taking only a carry-on may sound like an impossible feat, but it’s both possible and rewarding.
First of all, taking only a carry-on will eliminate baggage fees on planes with most airlines (Ryanair not being one of them). Secondly, a carry-on suitcase can only hold so much so you’ll have to pack minimally. This means you’ll have less stuff to deal with and anything not needed will be left at home.
One method I use all the time to pack less and be better organized is to pick out outfits beforehand and pack them with a few other key items to mix and match. This way, you’ll spend less time trying to figure out what to wear in London during your trip and you won’t have a bunch of extra things taking up space.
Finally, let’s go ahead and see what to wear in London in any season!
Make sure to read my post The Art Of Packing Light: 21 Useful Tips To Travel Light.
What To Wear In London
What to wear in London in Spring / Fall
Although there are four distinct seasons in London, two of those seasons are predictable in the sense that you can expect them to be unpredictable (sorry for the pun!) and that’s spring and fall. Nicer weather is common towards the end of spring and start of fall. Otherwise, expect rain, wind and cool temperatures, as well as warmer temperatures. Layers are the most important fashion statement during these seasons!
A Waterproof / Rain Jacket
There’s no way around it; it rains a lot in London and most of the rain that falls annually falls in spring and fall. Be sure to pack a waterproof jacket or rain jacket. If you aren’t sure what to bring, look around on Kuhl’s website as they make a bunch of fantastic rain jackets that you can easily layer too.
Jeans / Comfortable Pants
Jeans are widely accepted in London. You’ll see people wearing them everywhere! They’re comfortable and warm during cooler seasons, but the best part about them is they can be worn with almost anything and they can go from casual to dressy in a pinch with the right accessories.
Kuhl makes a bunch of jeans. I am a fan of their skinny range because they are soft and comfortable, and come in many colors.
If jeans aren’t your thing, a comfortable pair of pants in a neutral color can go a long way in your vacation wardrobe too – you can easily match them with any top.
One or Two Pairs of Leggings
Like jeans, leggings are a popular clothing item in London because they’re easy to layer with other items – you can wear them under a dress for example. They’re comfortable and they can easily take you from day to night with the right top and accessories. In a pinch, they’re also great as pajamas!
Long Sleeve T-Shirts
Fall and spring in London can be quite cool and damp and you’ll want to layer with a T-shirt, possibly a cotton one and with long sleeves. Take a few in neutral colors and mix and match them with jeans and pants. Check out Kuhl’s range of long-sleeve T-shirts – they have them in any color, and they are super comfortable.
One or Two Short Sleeve T-Shirts
When I lived in London, October and April often meant Indian Summer – a week during which there’d be a sudden increase in temperatures and everyone wore T-shirts and lighter pants. You should pack or or two short sleeve T-shirts as they are great to wear under other items during the cooler months anyways. Once again, Kuhl has a fantastic range of T-shirts, from sporty ones to dressier ones.
A Couple of Lighter Sweaters
Light sweaters are what to wear in London during spring and fall so make sure to take a couple of them to mix and match with your jeans, pants, and tights. Sweaters also layer nicely under a jean jacket for a stylish, casual look.
A Warm Sweater
You should take at least one heavy, warm sweater for those days when you’ll be outside for extended periods or in case there is a sudden drop in temperatures. Pack one that matches most of your bottoms so it can be worn more than once if needed.
A Cute Dress for the Evening
Although many restaurants and clubs are casual, it’s nice to dress up to go out in the evening. Pack at least one cute dress (men should pack a more formal jacket, a nice shirt and possibly a tie) to wear for those occasions and you’ll also be ready for those times when you want to go somewhere that enforces a strict dress code.
What to Wear in London in Summer
Although it’s not consistently hot in London during the summer months, the city does experience hot days and sometimes even heat waves that extend for longer periods. Be sure to pack clothes for average summer weather and a few items for those very hot days you might experience. Below is what to wear in London in summer.
Light Cotton or Linen Pants
Jeans are usually too warm to wear during the summer months but light cotton and linen pants are perfect for London’s summer temperatures. Take a mix of long pants and cropped pants in light materials and neutral colors to mix and match with your tops. Kuhl has a wide range of pants that are perfect for the summer months – stylish, comfortable and easy to wash and dry if you need to.
Cotton T-Shirts and Tank Tops
Summer days are warm and nights are cool, so a mix of cotton T-shirts and tank tops should help you manage this daily transition. Both can be easily layered with other items. You have probably guessed it: I am once again a fan of Kuhl for their T-shirts. They have anything from sporty and providing sun protection perfect to wear during the day, and dressier ones you can wear in the evening.
A Couple of Pairs of Shorts
Shorts are perfectly acceptable to wear both day and night in London, although unless there’s a heat wave you might find it a bit cool at night! There are a few places where wearing shorts is frowned upon and that would be nicer restaurant for dinner, churches, certain indoor events, and the odd place that has a dress code in place. Other than that, feel free to wander the streets of London in shorts.
My go-to brand for shorts is Kuhl. They have all sorts of styles – from casual ones to others that can be dressed up a notch if needed.
Maxi-dresses are perfect for any time of the day or night. During the day, their flowing nature will keep you cool and looking stylish. By evening, you can go to dinner or for cocktails or just lounge around the hotel in comfort and style. This type of dress can be worn alone or layered with a jean jacket or cardi when the temperatures go down. Change your shoes or accessories, and it will look like a whole new outfit.
If you feel like dressing up a little while exploring London during the day without being too over the top, a sun-dress is the perfect addition to your vacation wardrobe. Much like maxi-dresses, sundresses come in all sorts of prints and depending on what you get you can easily dress them up.
A Nicer Dress for the Evening
It’s nice to go all out and dress up at least once during any vacation so be sure to pack a nice outfit for such an occasion! A nice dress is perfect for a late dinner, cocktails, or an evening out on the town, and it’ll get you into the exclusive places that have dress codes!
A little black dress can work wonders in this case and it’s definitely what to wear in London for a more formal night. For men, nice linen or cotton pants and a nice shirt are perfect for evening outings.
A Light Cardi
You won’t need to pack a heavy coat or jacket when traveling in London during the summer months, but you’ll definitely need something to throw over you when the evenings turn cool. Add a light cardi in neutral colors to your London packing list – it can match any other item you are bringing, saving you some space in your suitcase.
A Light Rain Jacket
As nice as the summers are in London, rain is always a possibility! For this reason, you should pack a light rain jacket that can be carried in your daypack on those days when it looks like the sky might open up. It’s actually way more comfortable to wear a rain jacket than going around in an umbrella, too.
What to Wear in London in Winter
While it doesn’t snow a whole lot in London during the winter months, it sure does rain a lot! And when it doesn’t rain, it’s still damp and cold so heavier clothes are a must this time of year.
The main issue when deciding what to wear in London in winter is the fact that while it’s cold outside, indoors it can be actually excessively warm: shops, the metro (which gets very crowded), restaurants and bars keep the heating quite high, so consider wearing layers you can take off when indoors.
You should also read my post Should You Visit London In Winter?
A Winter Jacket
If you want to stay warm while wandering the streets of London in winter, add a good winter jacket to your London packing list. It’s best if that jacket is waterproof too, to keep you dry in the damp conditions that are common this time of year. Kuhl has an excellent selection of good winter jackets in a variety of neutral colors.
Thermal Shirts / Pants
While it does get cold, the temperatures in London rarely slip below freezing, but for those days when they do, you’ll want to have at least one thermal shirt and possibly a pair of thermal pants on hand to layer under your clothes if you plan to venture outside in such conditions.
I remember once my ex and I attended a conference in London in January and it was so cold that he was thankful to have thermal underwear! I didn’t have any, and just froze. Learning from that experience, I now always pack some good base layers. I am a fan of Kuhl’s Impulse leggings and Akkomplice Krew.
A Pair of Jeans
Jeans aren’t exactly the perfect item to wear in winter because they don’t really keep you warm. However, they can be worn in many ways and if you pair them with a good long-ish winter coat or jacket, you won’t have to suffer the cold. You can wear them with a sweater or you can tuck them into or frame them around a stylish pair of boots for a chic city look. Like I have said before, I am a fan of Kuhl’s jeans as they are super comfortable.
One or Two Pairs of Pants
A couple of pairs of pants in neutral colors (blue, grey or black, but also brown) go great with sweaters and long-sleeve shirts and they’re comfortable and warm enough to wear on those days when you’re shopping or hanging out downtown in cafes.
Long Sleeve Shirts
A long-sleeve shirt is the perfect item to layer under a thick sweater. You might want to pack at least one flannel shirt for those extra cold days when you want to be extra cozy! My go-to brand for cozy flannel shirts is once again Kuhl – I love their Kamila shirt!
You’ll need a few thick sweaters if you want to stay warm while outdoors. Patterned sweaters go great with jeans while sweaters in neutral colors can be paired with almost anything. For great sweaters in a variety of colors and that are easy to wash in the washing machine, check out Kuhl.
I am a massive fan of the Sienna sweater, which comes in a variety of colors (I have it in Ash). I also love Solace, which is a bit more dressy though not nearly as thick.
A Beanie / Hat, Scarf and Gloves
In London, hats, beanies, scarves and gloves are accessories to every wardrobe in the winter months. Be sure to add some to your London packing list and make sure they match the outfits you plan to wear because you’ll be wearing them on most of your outdoor jaunts!
Best Luggage For London
Best luggage for shorter trips and budget trips
If you’re only going to spend a few days in London or you’re on a tight budget, a nice carry-on suitcase or Cabin Zero will do just fine. It’ll fit all of your necessary items and you’ll save some money on baggage fees as they fit in the overhead compartment.
Best luggage for longer trips
If you’re spending a week in London or plan to do shopping while there, you’ll likely need a bigger suitcase that’ll need to be checked in on the plane. It’s best to take one that has wheels so you can move it easily from place to place. I have recently tested Level8 suitcases and I am a fan!
I have recently discovered packing cubes and I will never travel without again! I love how they help me keeping things organized while traveling. Just pop them in your suitcase and separate your items into piles within the cubes. You’ll no longer have to tear your suitcase apart looking for one item because everything will be neatly organized and ready to go when you need it!
Other Things To Include In Your London Packing List
Footwear in all Seasons
If there’s something you should give more thought to than any other for a trip to London, it’s shoes. More specifically, comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking no matter what time of year it is so make sure to pack a good pair of sneakers for fall and winter.
You’ll also need a pair of waterproof proof boots with good grips for the rainy conditions in winter. A dressier pair of warm boots are fine in winter.
I have recently discovered Panchic shoes and I am a massive fan. They come in a variety of colors and you can mix and match the laces to create the look you want.
For the summer, you’ll need a comfortable pair of walking sandals or espadrillas – I love Paiz, they come in a million styles and colors and are super comfortable. When you want to look stylish in the warmer months, ballerina slippers easily go from day to night.
Bags and Purses
Your cell phone and wallet go everywhere with you so you’ll need somewhere to safely stash them while you explore London by day. This is where a larger bag or daypack comes in handy. Try to opt for something that is big enough to also carry the other things you might need throughout the day including extra layers, a water bottle, sunscreen if you are visiting in the summer, hand sanitizer etc. A smaller purse that will hold your most needed items is your best bet for evening outings.
Keep your personal grooming items together and in order with a good toiletry bag. When needed, all you’ll have to do is grab the bag and go!
No matter what season it is, you’ll need to stay hydrated and the best way to do that is by taking your own water bottle and refilling it as you go. London’s tap water is among the cleanest in the world, so it’s safe to drink. Refill London is a program that has recruited 2,500 cafes and shops around the city that’ll refill water bottles for free. OneLess has set up 28 water fountains around the city and the app Refill lists over 30,000 refill stations.
If you’re traveling from outside the United Kingdom, your devices and chargers won’t work in the wall outlets in London without a special adapter. Make sure to pack one and in case you forget, finding one is fairly easy in London (any Boots Pharmacy or Dixon’s will sell them).
With a fully charged and loaded power bank, you won’t have to worry about not having a phone if you forget to charge it the night before. Just plug your phone into the power bank and slide both into your daypack or purse to get a charge on the go!
You likely won’t need to wear sunglasses very much during the winter but they are certainly helpful during the sunny summer months! Pack a pair anyway no matter what time of year it is. In London, you just never know when the sun will make an appearance.
In summer, you’ll need sunscreen whenever you go outdoors if you want to prevent sunburn – yes, even in London! During the colder months, bring a smaller bottle to dab some on your face because you can get a burn in winter if the sun is out!
Germs are everywhere – especially in London’s famous “tube” (the metro) and although it’s hard to avoid coming into contact with them, you can certainly minimize the possibility of getting sick by carrying hand sanitizer with you at all times.
London is a fun city to take photos of, even if you are not a professional photographer and just want some shots to send home to family and friends and to look at once you are back. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you!
Conclusion On What To Wear In London
You can be whatever you want in London. Whether you want to be the casual tourist or the urban fashionista, it doesn’t matter in this city because everyone just does their own thing and what anyone else does isn’t their concern. Just make sure that no matter what you do, you’re comfortable while doing it so you can make the most out of your trip!
And if you forget something, or realize during your trip that you could do with a specific pair of pants, shoes and what not, you are in luck: London is shopping paradise and you won’t have troubles finding what you need!
These other posts will be useful when planning your trip to London:
- A Perfect Itinerary To See London In 3 Days
- 24 Best London Hidden Gems
- Where To Stay In London: The Best Areas And Hotels
- 20 Best Sunday Markets In London
- Where To Get The Best Views Of London
- 19 Best Day Trips From London
- How To Get From Heathrow To London