What To Pack for London: 12 Style Essentials

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The British have a saying about their weather, “Four seasons in one day,” and it proved to be more than true on my recent trip to London.  We arrived in the middle of a heat wave – hot and sweaty the first few days – but by the time we left, the weather had turned chilly and rainy. And of course, I had packed mostly for colder, Autumn weather, so a lot of my organized, careful packing went out the window.

The packing list below is a combination of what I wore while I was there, plus a few items I didn’t pack but wish I had.  Hindsight is 20/20, right?  Also, in honor of the high street clothing brands, I’m featuring lots of Topshop, River Island, Warehouse, and Oasis, because sometimes it’s fun to see what affordable fashion looks like on the other side of the pond.

So here’s a packing capsule wardrobe for London – versatile, functional, comfortable and stylish.  (Of course, I packed extra items, but I stripped the list down to the items that I truly relied on.  Next time I’ll pack light.)

london1final

 

My 12 London Style Essentials

london-england

 

1. Sneaks:  Maroon colored suede Pumas –  Comfortable and cute, sneakers like these are a MUST have. I definitely recommend sticker with a darker color like burgundy, black or navy because when walking in any Metropolitan location, especially one as damp as London, the dirt and grime accumulates quickly.

(I also packed a pair of blue ballet lace-up flats but I tried wearing them out walking, and in less than an hour the shoes and my feet were stained and completely covered in grime)

2. COMFY Heeled Booties:  These Leila Booties by Toms, (true to size) are literally the most comfortable heeled booties I’ve ever bought, so much so that I forget I’m wearing HEELS!  I can honestly wear them like sneakers. I love them so much that I’ve ordered the same boots in medium brown.

3. Leather Backpack: Front Zip Backpack by ASOS  – While in London, I also found a ton of super affordable and stylish backpacks like this one.   I’ve been having a hard time persuading myself to purchase a handbag that ISN’T a backpack – they’re just so practical and comfortable, especially when you’re out walking all day.  Plus, you can stuff your (and your family’s) entire life into your bag.  As always, I rely on my Fringe Julian Backpack by Rebecca Minkoff and never leave home without it.

4. LBD:   Black Bell Swing Sleeve Dress by River Island – One of the most versatile and most worn items on the trip was my black dress.  During the day, while walking all over London, I wore it with my sneaks and backpack, then transitioned it easily for the evening by switching to my booties.  It seamlessly transitioned from hot to cold temperatures.

5.  Fab Jeans:  These True Religion Halle Crop Lace Up Jeans are everything. They are selling out everywhere I’ve checked. Right now, Lord and Taylor has the most selection of sizes but I’ll keep checking and updating.  For a more affordable (yet still statement-making) option, try HM’s Super Skinny Contrast Hem Jeans in grey and black. 

6. Statement Blouse:  Free People ‘Kiss & Bell’ Lace Blouse – Perfect for evenings and totally on-trend, bell and flared sleeved blouses were everywhere I looked in London.

7. Retro Inspired Graphic Tee: Another must have.  Currently, I am loving anything retro and rock inspired like H&M’s Renegade Tee.

8. Skirt:  ribbed wrap skirt by River Island (currently 50% off for $30) – I love a good skirt and this one is super soft and comfy.   They’re versatile as well: wear with sneaks, booties, sandals, tights, or even over jeans!

9. Lightweight Jacket: Topshop’s Suede Biker Jacket  Moto jackets go with everything and are surprisingly warm.

10. Statement Necklace:  Lace Statement Choker by BP at Nordstroms – Chokers are pretty much the ultimate statement necklace and I’m extra crazy about all of the lace-y Victorian styles out there right now like Vanessa Mooney’s Wide Lace Choker. I wore mine everyday both during the day with my jeans and tee and then again when we went out in the evenings.

11. Sweater: River Island’s Silver Stitch Sweater –  It kinda  goes without saying, I just try to pack a neutral color that will go well with my other items (and fit under my moto jacket).

12. Layering Cami: Chelsea28’s Lace Trim Camisole –(in Burgundy Stem, also available in Navy and White – they are selling out quickly at Nordstroms, although they are continuing to restock) – I always take at least one cami with me when I travel.  They can be worn with just about everything: jeans and a moto jacket, layered under a blazer, with a skirt and denim jacket, the options are limitless.

Outfit 1: Warm Weather, Sightseeing Outfit

A random hot day in London?  Here’s what I wore (as well as the two items I WISHED I packed, an external battery pack for my phone and my favorite London Travel guide).  Most of the day my jacket was wrapped around my waist, but proved super helpful in chilly museums and restaurants.

sightseeing

 

Outfit Details:

LBD: Black Bell Swing Sleeve Dress by River Island

External Battery Pack: Sonix External Battery Pack for iPhone –  The number one item I WISHED I packed.

Travel Guide: The Monocle London (Monocle Travel Guide Series) – I relied on my travel guide in the evenings when planning what we should do the following day.

Backpack: ASOS Front Zip Backpack

Sunglasses: Le Specs Air Heart 51mm Sunglasses –  affordable, durable and chic.

Sneakers: Maroon colored suede Pumas

Moto Jacket:  Topshop’s Suede Biker Jacket

 

Outfit 2: Casual Evening Outfit

I am really loving all the high collar, bell sleeve blouses I’ve been seeing lately AND they go perfectly with my other obsession: lace chokers. I paired mine with the Tom’s Leila booties.  I finally have a pair of chic heeled boots that are MORE comfortable than many sneakers, so I was on cloud nine that evening.

london-casual-evening-out

Outfit Details:

Mascara: I had a chat with my friend Elisa, who happens to be one The Knot’s Top 5 Wedding Make Up Artists for the last 5 years and running, about what her travel make-up essentials are. I rely on her for pretty much all of my make-up product advice. Her very first mention was Chanel’s Le Volume De Chanel Mascara, it’s so good, she’ll never use another kind. That was all the convincing I needed to purchase.

TopFree People ‘Kiss & Bell’ Lace Blouse

Jeans: True Religion Halle Crop Lace Up Jeans

BagFront Zip Backpack by ASOS

Jacket: Topshop’s Suede Biker Jacket 

Booties: Leila Booties by Toms

Choker: Lace Statement Choker by BP at Nordstroms

Outfit 3: Chilly Day Option

When the weather cooled considerably, this layered look was my go-to. This outfit also doubled as my travel home outfit, I just switched out the camisole for my black graphic tee and it was perfect for all the fluctuating temperatures on the plane and in immigration.
chilly-london-day

Outfit Details

Lip Matte:  Bite Beauty’s Matte Creme Lip Crayon in Brandy – Another of Elisa’s picks, she knows how I much I love a bright lip color, and these are some of the best vibrant, high pigmented mattes out there. The color stays on for hours and is super moisturizing.

Lace Camisole: Chelsea28’s Lace Trim Camisolein Burgundy Stem also in Navy and White, and although they are selling out quickly at Nordstroms, they are continuing to restock.

Knit Sweater: River Island’s Silver Stitch Sweater 

Jeans: True Religion Halle Crop Lace Up Jeans  or try HM’s Super Skinny Contrast Hem Jean

Sneakers: Maroon colored suede Pumas

Jacket: Topshop’s Suede Biker Jacket 

 

Hope this was helpful and happy travels!!

xxox,

Jess

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Meet our resident artist/fashionista, Jess. Her creative side pours into her everyday style and it’s oh, so good. Not only can she dish out packing capsule wardrobes, Jess can draw the dream wardrobe to match. We love to get inspired by her artwork and we think you will, too.

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12 Comments

  1. Jess–I love your writing and your style! Can you share what size you wear? I don’t want to get too personal–but I think you and I are similarly shaped and I find having a size guide helps me when ordering from companies I have never shopped at before! Thank you in advance!

  2. Love your list!! I would probably add a scarf to the mix, especially for when it is windy. I would also be incredibly careful walking around London with a backpack and would much prefer a crossbody handbag. I had my wallet stolen from my purse on Oxford Street last summer and I would be very hesitant walking around with a backpack.

  3. I just got an amazing Cote & Ciel backpack for my bus commute. Many of their backpacks have the zipper on the side of the pack that lies against your back, if that makes sense. It would be really hard for someone to open the pack while it was being worn.

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