The weather in London is unpredictable to say the least – and depending on where you live or where you’re staying, you can’t budget an hour’s train ride all the way back home to change or pick up a jumper without seriously wasting some precious time out and about the city. The difference between Summer and Winter can make you feel like you are in a whole other country and the seasons in between can swing either way on the pendulum. Before we break down essential clothing items per season, there are two things that you need to consider whatever the weather: rain and shoes.
The first cardinal rule is to always have something waterproof because you never know when the heavens may open. Some people ensure that there is waterproofing on their light or Antarctic-level jacket, which – and I cannot stress this enough – must have a hood. Others make sure to always have an umbrella with them. Depending on whether you usually carry a bag around with you or not, it can be really annoying to lug around with you Singin’ in the Rain style and is very easy to lose in the chaos of the tube. If you can’t fit a small collapsible brolly into your bag, then be sure to buy one that has a loop on the end that you can attach to the strap of your bag until you need it.
The second crucial outfit choice is that you have good walking shoes. Now this means different things to different people depending on pain threshold and how much they care about ruining a nice outfit by pairing them with a solid set of trainers. London is a walking city: partially because cabs are so expensive and partially because the parking and traffic are an absolute nightmare. If trainers or some sturdy boots are not your style, then I will leave you to your trendy shoes – but I advise that you should always keep a few sheets of plasters with you and if you have the space, then a substitute comfortable pair of shoes in your backpack is never too bad an idea provided they are not too heavy.
You would never plan a trip to London without doing your research first so that you know exactly where to stay and what to pack to make the most of what this city has to offer at that specific time. In terms of your accommodation, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to Hotel packages in London that will cater to your every need. Whether you are looking for a London hotel near Barbican or if you want to make sure that you are in the epicentre of the best restaurants in London City, you will be sure to find the perfect place.
Now all you need to do is check what the weather will be like over your stay. Springtime starts to wonderfully creep into London around March but is widely recognised as being officially front and centre in May until we start feeling the gradual heat of summer coming along in June. The scorching hot Summer days will slowly start to cool down come Autumn in September and then you will shortly forget that you were ever sizzling in front of your fan as the chill starts to settle. By December time it will be Winter, but it will become full throttle freezing in January and early February before the cycle starts all over again.
I was not prepared for my first London summer whatsoever. Everyone talks about cold and rainy England, but Summer here is really intense. Maybe it’s the density of the high-rise buildings coupled with the swirling vortex of the underground, but London gets hot.
My first suggestion is more of a public service announcement more than anything else, but please make sure that you carry travel-size deodorant with you wherever you go. This is for the greater good and if everyone on the tube would do the same then the world would be a better place.
While you’re at it, it is actually imperative that you carry a bottle of water around with you wherever you go – they actually make announcements suggesting it on the underground because so many people pass out on the platforms, on the trains and just generally around the station. This is a matter of survival.
In terms of clothing, I would suggest things that are light, breezy and preferably in colours that show less sweat. If they are very dark (black & navy), very light (white & pale pink) or have bold patterns like plaid then you’re good to go – but definitely avoid your greys, light blues and even some of your brighter colours (depending on the fabric). If you have somewhere to go in the afternoon or later after a day of walking around, then it’s advisable to neatly pack an extra shirt in your bag for you to change in later (along with that little deodorant – just putting it out there. Short commuters everywhere will thank you).
This is no time to be a hero, friends. I did not even bother going to the winter section of department stores – I went to one of those outdoor camping shops and I was the happiest person in my family. Invest in the kind of winter coat you would be comfortable hugging the Abominable Snowman in and – while you’re at it – make sure you have a scarf, beanie and gloves. If you do a lot of walking outdoors – throw in some thermals. You’ll thank me later.
While these items will literally save your bum when you’re walking or on the bus, it will be very hot once you get inside a building (especially restaurants) and the tube, so this is why layers are important. I would recommend a light jumper over a long-sleeve top so that you can survive when you don’t have your jacket on but will not suffocate when you do.
Tips for Spring and Autumn
Now these two seasons are when you REALLY need layers. You’re either going from very hot to medium to very cold or very cold to medium to very hot – so you need to have a little bit of your wardrobe from the previous season with you…just more moderated.
As Spring approaches, be ready to be stripping off and bundling up every time you move indoors or outdoors: so whatever you choose to wear, make sure you can carry all your layers around with you if it’s too hot to have them all on.
In my opinion, this is why almost the whole of London is wearing those lightweight puffer jackets: because they are the work of a genius. They do the job when it’s chilly and windy and are light and easy to fold up and squish up small in your bag when it gets too hot. It is the perfect thing to keep tied around your waist for any occasion.
Do not underestimate how chilly the end of the Autumn months can get. Even with your trusty puffer jacket, you may really need some of those thick woolly jumpers that warm you up just the perfect amount together.