England, a heatwave and public air con: socially acceptable dress code
September 13, 2016 8:18 AM   Subscribe

It is England, and we are on day one of (another) three day heatwave. Temperatures are peaking at 35C (95F) and there is more to come. Being English, I'm (a) not used to it and (b) don't have domestic air conditioning. There is, however, really good air conditioning in some supermarkets (especially Marks and Spencer food hall) and the cinema. But what, especially in the supermarket, is the least you can wear in a socially acceptable manner (remember: England)? Are there any kind of relevant guides or guidelines?
posted by Wordshore to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Respectfully, if they have really good air conditioning, you will be most comfortable in normal attire. Stripping down to bare skin in a very well air conditioned environment is unpleasantly cold, as any cardigan-owning office lady can attest.
posted by Diagonalize at 8:23 AM on September 13, 2016 [16 favorites]

t-shirt/vest shirt and shorts
posted by missmagenta at 8:27 AM on September 13, 2016

The UK has a Common Law offence of indecent exposure, which is a non-sexual offence relating to public nudity. It's not a clear-cut law - whether an offence has been committed is usually up to a magistrate or jury.

Individual retailers/cinemas are quite within their rights to refuse entry (or to ask you to leave) if they feel you are inappropriately dressed. You may well find that certain stores will require you to cover your upper torso or wear some kind of footwear. I've seen signs in seaside shops refusing entry to people wearing swimming clothing (possibly to avoid water damage, or maybe just for the sake of propriety).

Shorts and a t-shirt, and maybe a pair of flip-flops, would be OK pretty much anywhere, I'd imagine. With or without underwear.
posted by pipeski at 8:34 AM on September 13, 2016

In the big cities in England, nobody cares what you wear.
posted by Coda Tronca at 8:35 AM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: For a supermarket, I think that anything covering nipples and arse is fine.
posted by threetwentytwo at 8:35 AM on September 13, 2016 [7 favorites]

Would you feel comfortable choosing clothes to go to the supermarket on a regular-hot summer day, like when it's 25C or so? Wear that. There are no clothing choices you can take to the supermarket that English people will stop judging you for just because it's extra hot outside.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:18 AM on September 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

Whatever you have that is linen with short sleeves and no longer than the knee.
posted by brujita at 11:07 AM on September 13, 2016

If you go to the cinema when it's 95 degrees out you should bring a blanket because you're going to freeze during the movie.
posted by fshgrl at 11:16 AM on September 13, 2016

This very much depends on where you are in England, and where you are intending on doing your shopping. Remember that various places have tried to ban people turing up in PJs and the response to that was a vigorous 'piss off'. Boob tube, hot pants and sandals probably wouldn't get a second look in an Asdas in Leeds, but Waitrose in London would be another matter altogether. Walking distance of a beach and you'd be good to pop in in a bikini, but not in the middle of Birmingham.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:09 PM on September 13, 2016

Just make sure you have shoes on (flip flops fine). Though it's a good point that in air con, you'll probably want more clothes than outside so maybe have a long sleeve shirt you can stick on top if you get too chilly? But yeah, shorts, t-shirt and flip flops. If you'd not mind bumping into your gran, you'd be fine with supermarket rules.

You have my sympathy. England does not do heat well and while 35C might not seem like much, I fully know that it feels like 35C+ AGGHHHH compared to elsewhere (and I'm Australian)
posted by kitten magic at 1:25 PM on September 13, 2016

American here who has lived in the UK and otherwise spent time there. Here it's 4:12 pm and the temp is 89F, one of the cooler days recently.

I'd say Bermuda/cargo shorts and some kind of light short sleeve shirt. If you know you chill readily, take a light long sleeve shirt with you if you know you're going to be in cold AC for a long time. What feels really good the first hour can feel really cold by the second hour.

It really isn't how much skin that's exposed. It's wearing lightweight thin fabrics that are light in color and that fit loosely enough to allow air to move between the fabric and your skin.

Common attire for students around here, especially women, in summer consists of something like short jogging/runnng shorts and a long teeshirt that covers most or all of said pair of shorts. My guess is no one would care if they wore the same in a hot UK.

And yes, a high temp in UK feels hotter than same temp here.
posted by justcorbly at 1:25 PM on September 13, 2016

I am not from England, but do live in the US in the South. I can speak to being cooler: If you are female, a sleeveless (but not with thin straps) dress in a light color (cotton or a thinner tshirt fabric) is usually cooler than any sort of shorts / pants. Looser is better than tighter. I take a light cardigan or long sleeve shirt (thin cotton or tshirt material, again) to put on if my arms get cold in air conditioning . I try to wear open sandals or birkenstocks instead of flip flops, which aren't as dressy. Don't know how acceptable this would be in England, but it's dressier than shorts or a tank top and achieves a similar cooling effect.
posted by bessiemae at 1:47 PM on September 13, 2016

Loose tank dress or tee shirt dress. Supportive bra that lifts and separates. No underwear. Flip flops.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:41 PM on September 16, 2016

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