Thanks for the jacket @tomgvellner ⚾
Learn the b!tchf@ce from the coolest.
The London Underground is a culture shock on its own compared to the New York MTA—fabric seats, no air conditioning, an electronic ticketing system and its unrelenting sliding doors (when you hear “Doors closing” I suggest not taking any chances).
I was sitting in the London Tube on my morning commute this summer, trying to distinguish British from the American fashion style, when I realized the answer was right under my nose—literally.
I was staring at the floor when I noticed the passengers on both sides of me were wearing black Dr. Martens shoes. To my left was the quintessential old British man wearing a flat cap, a collared shirt under an evergreen sweater and a waxed over coat. He carried a long cane-like umbrella and a leather messenger bag—and if smoking were permitted in the Tube, I bet he’d whip out a wooden pipe. His tailored chinos hit right above his ankles, revealing his argyle socks and low-top black Dr. Martens shoes.
The man sitting to my right could not have been more of the opposite. He was young and trendy, sporting a James Dean hairstyle and a vintage button-up shirt cuffed at the forearms where a sleeve of tattoos peaked out his left arm. His dark denim trousers were rolled at his ankles, revealing the laces of his high-top black Dr. Martens boots.
I was sitting between about 45 years of age, and somehow they had something so significant in common—even past classic black leather Doc Martens with the yellow thread sewn around the sole, it was the epitome of how Brits wear things rather than what they’re wearing.
If there’s anything the Brits have nailed, it’s the fit. Whether it’s a casual pedestrian, a posh businessman or a student—the Brits have got tailoring on point. Trousers especially are never too tight nor too loose, sweats are rarely worn in public and length is perfect. Brits dress in a put-together manner—little details such as cuffs, tailored pieces or fastening up that top button by the collar make the difference, though nothing is ever too polished.
Practicality is inherent due to English weather: sturdy Doc Martens, Wellies, waxed jackets or girls in opaque tights under shorts and skirts. Brits carry a beautiful mix of posh style and an edge of utilitarian pieces. Americans are much more focused on classics and comfort—it’s less trend-focused and luckily we have the forecasts that permit tank tops, shorts and simple staples. The beauty of American style lies in simplicity and though we get a lot of flack for boring style, I think Americans can have impeccable taste especially in minimalism. America is envied for Hollywood glamour, the laid-back American girl next-door and the iconic classicism of American royalty thanks to the Kennedys.
The English practice practicality and trends while Americans dress casual and chic. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, British actress Emma Watson said, “It’s so funny because now that I’m in America, I’m more able to define it. Before I didn’t have an awareness of another style.” And that’s exactly how I felt until a morning commute to Northeast London.
Finally it was our stop on the Tube: Dalston, East London—the equivalent to New York City’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Dalston, where young artists reside in empty warehouses and vintage shops stretch out for blocks, is the trendiest part of town. The young man who sat to my right blended right in to the streets of trendy, young eccentrics. And the grandpa who sat to my left walked around to the corner newsstand and did in fact smoke a wooden pipe.
I made my way through the rain to work on a casual July morning, while my friends at home sported their Levi cutoffs, tank tops and red, white and blue for America’s 236th birthday.
“No photography allowed Madam.” #whoops (Taken with Instagram)
3/4 sleeves for 73 degree weather. Fall, you’re SO close! #wiwt (Taken with Instagram)
In England, the word “Cheers” is thrown around a lot more than just before a toast—the British usually use it in parting or at the end of a conversation, to express good wishes or thanks.
For instance, one day this summer, it was the fourth time in the last hour I had answered the door to a big burly courier, suited up in a heavy-duty jumpsuit delivering some sort of dainty designer shopping bag tied in a pretty bow filled with tissue paper. He bellowed “Cheers!” from behind his helmet as he hopped onto a motorcycle and rode away in the rain.
I just began my summer internship as a styling assistant for London-based fashion stylist Aldene Johnson, and it baffled me how bike couriers traveled from the other side of London, just to deliver one thing (this one in particular being a pair of Christian Louboutin heels).
Florence Welch had just arrived from her Australian tour and was home in London to do a few gigs—the first being “The Andrew Marr Show,” a Sunday morning talk show. I unpacked the Australian tour suitcases filled with designer pieces lent for performances and promotions that needed to be returned to PR offices. Around 90 percent of the pieces we handled were borrowed from designers, so trafficking the samples coming in and out of the studio was a serious job.
Our options for “The Andrew Marr Show” were a bit limited since it was a last minute gig, so we contacted designers for any options they could send, hence, the numerous deliveries that day. Johnson leaned towards more low-key ensembles appropriate for daytime television opposed to Welch’s usual dramatic stage outfits. We packed a variety of options that reflected her eccentric style: dresses in a yellow galactic print, an orange chiffon gown and a turquoise botanical printed blouse paired with a contrasting burnt orange ankle-length skirt by Hermione de Paula (the outfit Johnson was banking on for the show).
A day later, I was on my way to BBC Headquarters with a bit of nerves. Luckily I was familiar with the protocol after having assisted Johnson in the United States for the morning talk show “The View.” It would be a straightforward acoustic performance, the perfect first gig for me to transition into my internship. I was the first to arrive at 7 a.m., when the petite production assistant dressed in a black pant suit escorted me to the dressing room soon followed by Johnson, the harpist and hair and makeup.
Johnson went over with the others to see the stage, mentally coordinating the hues of the wardrobe options against the backdrop and lighting. After I steamed the pieces, prepared the undergarments and lined up an assortment of Nicholas Kirkwood and Christian Louboutin heels, I found myself in an empty dressing room with nothing left to do but wait. I plopped myself onto the leather couch as I observed the sleek, contemporary interior; I was too intimidated to touch anything, but not enough to keep me from helping myself to the fruit tray.
There was a knock on the door and I casually got up to answer what I assumed to be the production assistant. I peered through the peephole to find a fisheye image of a statuesque figure patiently waiting with her hands folded. A fur-collared coat draped over her shoulders covering a chiffon ankle-length day dress, as she looked down at her tan brogues. Shades of red, brown, orange and yellow worked harmoniously throughout her outfit complementing that iconic, fiery red hair. Needless to say, it was not the production assistant at the other side of the door.
I opened the door and greeted her good morning. The songstress smiled and entered with a “Cheers,” in a soft, angelic voice.