Tell me of your homeworld, Britons
July 8, 2014 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Travelling to London next week. Need advice on packing for the weather.

You guys were so helpful dressing me for Seattle that I'm back to tap the juicy hive mind once again. I'm going to be in London next week for about 7 days. I see that according to the weather forecasts online it's likely to be in the mid-70s (F) during the day, with lows into the upper 50s at night. A friend we are visiting with there has also advised us to expect rain.

Is packing mostly jeans, t-shirts and light sweaters way out of line? I have some lightweight rayon-type pants (black) that I'm also considering for warmer days.

My projected packing also includes a couple of lighter jersey dresses. I assume I'll want tights with these?

Also bringing an umbrella. Should I even bother with shorts, or is it not likely to be that warm?
I'm coming from Florida where it's been burning hot with daily monsoons, so it might be nice to need long sleeves in the evenings.
posted by Kitty Stardust to Travel & Transportation around London, England (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Also bringing an umbrella.

Hold off on the umbrella and pack a light waterproof jacket with a tuckaway hood. Open umbrellas don't mix well with London pavements, especially in busier parts of the city. Also, you will lose it.

You'll see women wearing summer dresses, light fabrics, light jumpers, capris: basically temperate summer outfits. (Did you watch Wimbledon? Let that be your guide.) The Tube will be warmer (no A/C) and the more built-up parts of London will have more of an urban heat effect.
posted by holgate at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I second light waterproof over umbrella. Brollys are a pain for you and others when sightseeing.

Buses are nicer than tube in the summer if you can work then out. Note that you can no longer pay for London buses with cash.
posted by biffa at 1:21 PM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Personally, I don't wear tights in the summer, even if it's not particularly warm. I don't know if this fits with your style, but when it's too cool to have bare legs with dresses, I like to wear thin black leggings underneath - either full length if it's poor weather, or knee length if it's fine. This has the benefit of still being able to wear open-toed or lighter shoes. It's nice not to have hot, tight-ed feet when the sun comes out, or on the stuffy tube.

If the 'hot' (in our terms!) weather we have been having recently returns, jeans will be too hot, so I'd pack a pair of shorts for sure. The key to dressing for British weather is layers!!
posted by schmoo at 1:47 PM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

layers. my standard uniform is t-shirt/tank top (vest), thin wool cardigan and jeans. trainers/sneakers, comfortable walking sandals. it will not feel hot to you at all. if you need bare legs, long skirts are your answer. throughout the day,Ii put cardi on, take cardi off. shove it in my handbag, or tie around my waist.

it gets cool-to-chilly in evenings and on damp/windy days, and a light cotton jacket is fine. it varies wildly between muggy and wet, or fine and sunny. personally I always prefer an umbrella, but ymmv. just don't be oblivious whilst carrying it. the tube can be muggy, but I just take my cardi or jacket off.

basically London summer is mostly akin to a US late spring. dress accordingly.
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:00 PM on July 8, 2014

Lately I've been wearing summer dresses with cardigans and Converse trainers or flats, but I'm dying the moment it goes over 25. Buses, tube, Overground, etc are always boiling in summer -- the tube most of all. I always carry an umbrella in my bag; it's been alternating between chucking down rain and clear blue skies.

Personally, I recommend wearing the jersey dresses and carrying leggings and/or a cardi in your bag. It'll be easier to put on layers at night than have to peel them off during the day.
posted by toerinishuman at 2:27 PM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The English summer while it can sometimes be hot its also damp and seldom air conditioned, so to stay cool and comfortable I live in linen at this time of year, perhaps with a thin lambswool cardigan for the evening /anywhere with air-con?
posted by Middlemarch at 3:06 PM on July 8, 2014

I ran out last week to buy some more thin summer dresses as all of mine were too short to be work-appropriate and I was completely dying at work with the humidity. This week I am wearing them with flip flops, but also with a sweater and an umbrella.

Expect humidity, showers, and the old cold blast. Bring an umbrella or waterproof, plus shorts and sunglasses. The weather's really weird at the moment, your guess is as good as mine. We had a hot spell last week (in the high 20s, humid) but it's cold now (mid-teens, still humid, rains every day). It's supposed to get better over the weekend. I don't wear tights here between April and October, but if you're from Florida I guess YMMV. I agree with Schmoo that your footwear will get you a long way - I'm never terribly cold as long as I have covered shoes on, and never unbearably hot in sandals. So bring a selection.

The other option is just to wait and buy stuff when you're here - Uniqlo, H&M and Primark are good for throwaway leggings, jumpers, summer dresses, etc.
posted by tinkletown at 3:14 PM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I did my packing in southeast US and felt dumb for packing jeans and a light jacket during the heat of summer, but I've been thankful to have them here. Some days have been warm/sunny enough for shorts!
posted by estlin at 3:20 PM on July 8, 2014

I never carry an umbrella. I mean really. It's just water, you won't dissolve, and anyway it never rains here. If you insist, get one of those disposable plastic rain ponchos to put in your bag.

Pack a bunch of silk dresses, some natural fibre non-itchy shrugs/wraps/cardigan sweaters, some mid heeled sandals with metallic details, some ballet flats, and a straw fedora with a 2-inch brim. Also, buy a fan, then go to an art supply store and get a brush holder to carry it in so it doesn't break in your bag.

And sunglasses. Of course.
posted by tel3path at 4:06 PM on July 8, 2014

To give you some idea, yesterday I walked to work shivering (trousers, top, cardigan), walked for about half an hour at lunchtime and came back really uncomfortably drenched in sweat, shivered in non-air-conditioned office while listening to torrential rain for an hour in the afternoon, walked home in pleasant sunshine then watched the sun set in a beautiful clear sky.

If I were coming to London at the moment I'd pack a really good rain coat and shoes that don't fall apart if they get drenched, one pair warm trousers, one pair 3/4 trousers, a skirt/dress, some leggings, tops, a couple of jumpers and some kind of warm fleece so that if you want to sit outside a pub into a colder evening, you can do it without turning blue. You will need clothes where you can take off layers because the Tube is unbearably hot in the summer.

As people say, you won't die if you get wet, but it can really spoil a day of activities if you have to take shelter every time it rains. We are also really good at the type of rain that starts and continues all day, so it depends on how comfortable you are being cold and wet.
posted by kadia_a at 11:25 PM on July 8, 2014

"It never rains here" - is that sarcasm? Genuinely can't tell. Anyway, I got caught in a rain shower cycling home recently and looked like I'd been thrown in the Thames. Literally wringing the water out of my clothes. Bring something waterproof.
posted by tinkletown at 3:25 AM on July 9, 2014

Weather is extremely changeable here in England. The old joke is if you don't like the weather here, wait 10 minutes. It can be warm and sunny at 9am, and cloudy, chilly, and raining buckets at 11am, and then clear again by 2pm. Dress in things that are versatile, so layers are a must because temperatures can fluctuate. The sky can cloud over incredibly quickly, and it can drizzle or rain at the drop of a hat. You can always tell apart the tourists from the locals in London by who's got the umbrellas. The locals usually don't bother, I think the British just have learned helplessness and endure the rain.

Sidewalks in London are incredibly uneven and can often by cobbled, so I would bring shoes that make your ankles comfortable or give your arches support. I've walked around all day in London in flat Converse-like sneakers before, and they killed my ankles.
posted by the_wintry_mizzenmast at 1:33 PM on July 9, 2014

You're probably here by now, this is just for people coming late to the thread. I don't know who all these native umbrella pooh-poohers are. Every Londoner I know carries a small umbrella in their bag if there is even a hint of rain in the air.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:05 PM on July 15, 2014

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