Friday, January 15, 2010

Reader Question: What do I wear in London in May?

"I am going to be in London in the first week of May for a week of theatre and luncheons (and a little museum-going), and since I'm from the deep South in the US where there is no real winter I can't figure out what to wear in the spring where it is likely to be cool. Do I dare bring sandals? Are little boots only for a more winter period? Do I need to wear wool instead of, say, cotton? Will I need a heavy coat? And as for colors--is it time yet then for brights? "

English weather is not predictable, so I can't say with any assurance what it will be like in spring 2010. However, in its perverse way, the weather in May can often be glorious, (70-75F), and much better than June. However average temperature for May is around 60-65F.

Thing is, compared to the deep South it will not feel that warm to you! We don't have any real humidity problems here, save in the occasional heatwave when the country just about stops with astonishment. And the evenings will always be cool, probably in the 50s.

In May take the layering approach. Don't bring boots or a heavy coat: bring something lightweight, a trench or a mac, and rely on an umbrella to keep you dry. (It usually rains for at least 12 days in the month). If you wear denim, then jeans would be a splendid idea. You don't want to be sloshing through puddles: pack closed toe shoes, and buy sandals here if the weather hots up.

Bring a suit cut jacket or blazer, thinner (merino or cashmere rather than thick wool) sweaters, & shawls, & adopt the cardigan. British women love cardis and tend to carry one stuffed in their bag for when the temperature changes suddenly as it is wont to do. Museums & galleries are often much cooler inside too.

And I say yes to colour! We don't get that much good weather here so, at the very first sign of sunshine, we tend to whip out our summer wardrobes. You'll also find generally that Londoners are a lot more aware of trends than Americans, placing much more emphasis on dressing stylishly, and this applies to all age groups. Don't forget that Britain has some of the best womenswear in the world at all price points, so don't fill up your suitcase at home...

I have a very brief shopping guide to the West End here.

I hope you have a wonderful trip! LLGxx