How to Dress like a Brit: An American’s Perspective

Disclaimer: I understand Edinburgh, Scotland is not representative of the entire United Kingdom. Therefore, this blog post is based off of the fashion I have noticed while spending the majority of my semester in Edinburgh, Scotland, and my trip to London.

Not gonna lie, before coming abroad, when I thought of “British fashion”, I immediately imagined a posh, blonde-haired girl dressed in a tan Burberry trench coat, a plaid dress, and black, leather boots. After reading a couple of blogposts and watching some fashion videos from my favorite British Youtubers, I rushed to Zara to purchase a tan trench coat, and removed anything from my suitcase that was colorful, printed, and clearly screamed “AMERICAN”.

Now having been here for 4 months, I can confidently say that I’ve gotten a good sense of the way people dress here, and I gotta say, I love it. Some of the trends fall exactly in line with what I expected, and some genuinely surprised me.

The main thing I noticed about British fashion is it falls somewhere along the spectrum of Parisian and American. Not as chic as Paris, but not as laid-back as America. Brits tend to like to mix aspects of classy and casual fashion. This is something that really took me by surprise. For example, a neutral graphic tee, paired with light-washed jeans, loafers,  all topped off with a long, wool coat. The tee and jeans make the look laid-back, while the coat and loafers dress it up a bit.

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Photo from Fashion Me Now

Many of my American friends from back home have been telling me I look “so British” in my abroad photos, to which I was delighted, and it inspired me to write this post. Here are some of the most common and popular trends I’ve noticed among young, uni girls since being here (I would be lying if I said I didn’t pick up some of these trends as well):

Wool or Trench Coat

Now, this trend fell exactly in line with what I expected of how Brits dress. Brits love their outerwear, and they love to layer. In fact, I would go as far as to say it’s all about the outerwear here. It can really make or break a look. The most popular types of outerwear I have seen include the classic, tan trench coat, and the neutral-colored, wool coat (brown, gray, black). Runner ups include jean jackets and fur coats.

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Photo from Tanya Burr

Stripes and Plaid

This trend is one that I definitely expected before coming. Although Brits normally do not wear printed attire, stripes and plaid are the exception. This can range anywhere from a sweater or a top, to a coat or a scarf. Plaid/tartan print is definitely very popular here in Scotland (hello kilts), and a black and white striped top is a must.

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Photo from Park and Cube

White Sneakers

This is one of the most popular trends I’ve noticed since being here, and one that greatly surprised me. I mean, I thought Brits were classy all day, every day. They wouldn’t dare to wear sneakers, right? Turns out, young, uni girls love their white, closed toe shoes, whether that be Adidas, Keds, or Converse. This is also a trend in the U.S. , so I guess U.S. and British trends are more similar than I thought!

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Photo from WishWishWish

Light Wash Mom Jeans

This was another trend that I did not expect. I thought that the Mom Jeans trend only existed in America, and that it would never catch on anywhere else. Well, the amount of British girls I’ve seen rocking the Mom Jeans with a pair of white kicks outfit is more that the amount of British girls I’ve seen rocking a super fancy outfit. This just seems to be the go-to outfit for many girls, and I love it. I’ve noticed that while Brits tend to wear fitted tops, they also tend to wear loose fitted bottoms. Skinny jeans aren’t as popular here, but instead, Mom Jeans and loose fitted trousers are all the rage. Oh, and rolling up the bottom of your pants is a must in the U.K.

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Photo from Primark

Dress Shirt

This is perhaps less of a British uni girl trend, and more of a trend that exists among older British women. The smart-casual look is a very popular one among Brits, and what better way to rock this look than with a dress shirt? I have most commonly seen these types of shirts being worn half tucked into a pair of light wash Mom Jeans, or a pair of trousers.

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Photo from Zoella

How to Not Dress like a Brit

  • Sweatshirts
  • Sweatpants
  • Three words: The North Face
  • Anything extremely oversized or tight fitted
  • Anything with words plastered on the front, with the exception of designer brands
  • Tall boots or brightly colored shoes
  • Anything super brightly colored
  • Statement jewelry

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Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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2 thoughts on “How to Dress like a Brit: An American’s Perspective

    1. Thank you! And I would definitely suggest Barbor — their jackets are way cheaper in the U.K. since it’s an English brand. However, that being said, it’s not a cheap brand. If you’re looking for an affordable jacket, I’d look into Zara or Topshop!

      Liked by 1 person

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