England, Part 2
London Fashion Report: What They Really Wear
Five days a week, we drive down Highland Blvd. west on our way home. During that journey we pass a very heavily Hassidic area. That means on Friday there are lots of walkers, lots of men dressed as what our favorite BeansTalk staffer called, as a child, “secret agents,” that is to say, traditional long black coats, hats and the requisite sideburn curls. Alright, we realize that is completely unofficial. Here is how Wikipedia describes it: They are distinguished by their dark hasidic garb, and by their pants tucked into their socks called hoyzn-zokn (not to be confused with the breeches, called halber-hoyzn, worn by some other hasidic groups). They wear a round felt hat, and a high, almost-pointed kapel. On Shabbat and Jewish holidays the married men wear the high circular shtraml (fur hat) of the Polish chasidim, sometimes called a spodik (not to be confused with the much flatter shtreimel a fur hat worn by most hasidic groups).
Oh, how we digress. In addition to the driving challenges when they are behind the wheel (oh, stop it! It is not racist and don’t claim it as such until you’ve driven the drive on a daily basis—for that matter, try going to San Gabriel and drive next to the surgical-mask wearing Asians and try and do it without commentary).
Are we ever going to get to our point? We’re trying.
Our point is that we have gotten the styling of the teenage girl and mother hassidim: flat black shoes, black tights or knee highs, skirts that are always mid-calf and never full, but never fitted – loose and straight. Tops vary, but among teens the most common is a white cotton oxford-styled shirt and a solid-colored jumper (as they say in the U.K.)/v-necked sweater (as we say in the U.S.). The mothers (usually accompanied by two for the very young to up to eight/nine children) wear similar clothing waist down. Tops are usually shapeless, dark colored, indistinctive sweaters and 80% of the time they are wearing a type of cloche hat.
(We finally reach our point) So we closely observed what women were actually wearing in London and we have come to the following conclusion: dull, dull, dull and oh, so, predictable.
Is that too mean? Then let’s just say they play it very, very safe. Just about anyone who works in any kind office wears some variation of the following:
A black or dark blue suit made of some kind of blend (everything looked polyester-y to us). The only variations are whether they’re wearing a skirt or slacks. Occasionally, the very bold will feature a very thin white pinstripe. They always wear black hose/tights (or knee-highs under pants) and their shoes are always some very traditional pump, with a mid-range heel. Marks & Spencer sells their uniform (that’s their best-selling pantsuit above, available at the store and on their website for 50 pounds). The best way to describe it dog-show fans? Think of the women trainers, but replace the requisite flat plain Aerosole styled shoe with a, yes, mid-heel pump.
Once in a while, you’ll see someone who obviously works in P.R., at an Oxford Street shop, or some related field and they’re just a little more cutting-edge. They’ll wear shoes from H & M, with swingy or pan-collared coats, also from H&M or even M&S. We’ve included a possible sample suit, above (jacket 69 pounds, skirt 45 pounds). For fun, we’ve also shown another M&S coat, a limited edition, 89 pounds. We didn’t quite see this color, but the style is similar to what we saw on the more fashion conscious.
These young-and-hips girls may wear shoes with an ankle strap (whether they should or not). They may wear more fitted dresses in colors (although always dark ones, like burgundy – you see what we mean, don’t you?), and only open up their long coats when they’ve gone out for drinks afterhours and are dishing on the train to a co-worker, the alcohol having warmed them up. H&M seems to have just the right fashionable, elegant every so tiny-ly trendy styling for this gal-on-the go, and there actually is a section suitable for them at Marks and Spencer, too.
We did notice the following: The more posh the working woman, the better-fitted her suit was, the nicer and more polished her shoes. Looking at the M&S photo the heel on this model is a bit ambitious for most of the women we saw. We saw an abundance of Clarks and a definitely more solid heel, probably a bit less high. They walk every where and a lot. It's not realistic to be wearing too high a heel.
Young girls are very trendy and the urban look is definitely leggings and flats and 80s-styled horizontal striped mini dresses with a band at the bottom, mid-thigh (This isn't what every trendy teen was wearing, but you get the idea? Think Lindsay Lohan on a weekday afternoon, strolling down Robertson Blvd., paparrazi trailing behind her). Large, large gold-tone or silver-tone earrings dangle under shag and gypsy cuts. Truly urban gals wear very colorful mismatched “active” wear. Mushy Nike/Adidas slip-on trainers in bright colors, ¾ length fitted knit capris. Big, flashy blingy sunshades (whether they need them or not) are also popular.
Very fashionable types going out for a night on the town seem to sport tailored, dressy cuffed short-shorts, tights and either high-heeled boots or shoes. Tops for the shorts are usually cotton or blended button-up black sleeved shirts. We saw this look often at night, and mercifully, it was on very fit women, who traveled in couples or packs.
We’re not going to decree the above as dead-on, but merely our intense observations. You did want to know, didn’t you??