Wondering what the London dress code is and is there is a what not to wear in London list? In this guide we round up what not to wear in London along with all the best alternatives to make sure you don’t look like a tourist in London.
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Is there a London dress code? How do locals dress in London?
In cities like Paris I would say there definitely is a dress code however I would say this isn’t true in London. London is such a melting pot of different cultures that you will see all manners of dress type in the city.
In fact I don’t think there is one thing that I can say is what the locals wear in London. Therefore I would say go with whatever you wear at home when in London.
However saying this there are a few things that might mark you out as tourist in London which is what will make up our what not to wear in London list.
What not to wear in London
One of a tourists favourite day trips from London is Oxford. It is a beautiful city and it is not surprising that people like to pick up a souvenir of their trip.
The most popular souvenir from Oxford has to be some university clothing. However the truth is that Brits don’t tend to wear their college hoodies and certainly wouldn’t be wearing an Oxford hoodie at tourist sites in London.
An Oxford university hoodie just screams tourist and is not how locals in London dress. By all means buy one of these as a souvenir but don’t wear them while you are visiting tourist attractions in London. Instead chose a classic jumper if you are visiting and wondering what to wear in London in December or the other winter months.
Clothing with Flags
Brits don’t have the same relationship with their flag as Americans and Brits will very very rarely wear a union jack on any of their clothes.
You will however find lots of union jack clothing items at the tourist shops. By all means feel free to buy as a souvenir but don’t wear it at tourist attractions.
I would say the same with the American flag. Brits don’t tend to wear clothing with flags so it will mark you as a tourist in London.
High Heels and Stilettos
London is a city that is best explored by foot. But be warned that you will find many cobblestone streets and uneven walkways. High heels and stilettos are just dangerous on them.
If you want to wear something with a bit of height then you are better wearing a wedge shoe instead.
However best of all would be to sneakers for exploring London. They will offer better foot support and will be more comfortable for long days of walking.
If you are visiting London in July or August you may be tempted to pack flip flops but my advice is to leave them at home.
Flip flops offer little to no arch support and therefore are not good for places where you will be doing a lot of walking like London.
Instead of flip flops pack sandals that will offer you some arch support instead.
White socks with shoes
White socks and shoes are not really a look many British men will go for. Actually it will mark you as a tourist very quickly if you wear this at a London tourist attraction.
Instead of white socks and shoes chose socks like trainer socks that won’t be seen or wear shoes that do not require a sock.
London like any tourist place can have a problem with pickpockets. Therefore the right bag can make the biggest difference to whether you are marked and targetted by pickpockets
I can understand therefore why people may decide to wear a fanny pack – or a bum bag as we would call the in the UK. However, Brits do not wear fanny packs and actually nothing will mark you out as a tourist quicker than the wearing of a fanny pack.
Whatever you do leave the fanny pack at home and opt instead for something like a cross shoulder bag with plenty of zips
Open bags can easily be reached in and are a pickpocket’s favorite type of bag. Don’t wear a bag like this but instead opt for cross body bag with zips which will make a pick pockets job much much harder.
Exceptions to the London dress code
While I have said that mostly anything goes when you are traveling in London there are a few exceptions to this rule when you may have to watch what you are wearing more.
For instances if you are going to afternoon tea in London, to a michelin starred restaurant or to the theatre there may be more of a dress code.
What to Wear for Afternoon Tea in London
Afternoon tea in London should be on any traveller to London’s bucket list and it is one of the few places in London that has a strict dress code that should be adhered to.
While the code varies from place to place with venues such as Afternoon tea at the Ritz or The SAvoy having a much stricter dress code, almost every afternoon will have a dress code of some description.
It is best to go to afternoon tea in London in smart casual attire at a minimum and it is one of the few palces in London where you shouldn’t wear jeans. Men will often be expected to wear a jacket and in some places even a tie.
Be sure to check you particular venues dress code before arriving so you aren’t disappointed or under dressed
What to wear to Michelin Starred Restaurants in London
While like afternoon tea dress codes differ from venue to venue the same is true of Michelin starred restaurants. I have been to some very casual ones and some where there is a strict dress code.
I would say expect these places to want a smart casual dress code at a minimum but be sure to check in advance to make sure you are not underdressed or uncomfortable at your venue.
For more information on what to wear for dinner in London check out this post.
FAQS about what not to wear in London
Can I wear leggings in London?
I often get asked by visiting tourist “Can I wear leggings in London?” And the answer is absolutely yes you can.
Unlike places like Paris where you never see the locals wear legging this is not the case in London. Legging and other items of athleisure are commonplace on the tube and streets of London so don’t feel like you will be out of place wearing leggings in London.
Do Londoners wear jeans?
Being an ex-Londoner I can safely say Yes Londoners definitely do wear jeans. In fact jeans were a staple part of my wardrobe when I lived and worked in London.
And you will see them wherever you go, restaurants, workplaces the theatre. There are very few places where jeans are not allowed in London (read on for more info about where these places are).
When I am asked about other places in Europe for instance what not to wear in Amsterdam or what not to wear in Rome I might say limit your jeans to more tailored or skinny varieties in darker colors this isn’t the case in London. You can wear jeans in whatever cut and color you want without looking out of place.
What to wear outside of London?
Are you visiting another part of the UK as well as London? Then be sure to check out our other what to wear UK guides:
and be sure to check out our monthly guides to what to wear in London to understand how to Dress for the London weather and special events.
And no matter the month you are traveling to London we have an in-depth guide for you. Click on the below monthly guide to tell you how to dress for each season in London:
- What to wear to London in January
- What to wear to London in February
- What to wear to London in March
- What to wear to London in April
- What to wear to London in May
- What to wear to London in June
- What to wear to London in July
- What to wear to London in August
- What to wear to London in September
- What to wear to London in October
- What to wear to London in November
- What to wear to London in December
Have you been to London? What would you add to this what not to wear in London list?