London Fashion: Where Every “Don’t” is a “Do”

Growing up in the Southern United States, I learned the fundamental fashion rules from my mother. Never wear white after Labor Day. Always match your shoes and your handbag. There’s no such thing as a bow that’s “too big.” And do not, under any circumstances–not even on a triple dog dare–sport a duct-taped box on your head. (Like I said…the basics.)

But when I moved to London eight years ago, I found folks around every corner who not only broke the rules. They burned them, smashed them, and jumped up and down on them in Doc Martens that–get this–clashed with their handbag.

Girls in Doc Martens and funky shoes in London's Notting Hill

I have a couple of theories about Londoners’ funky fashion sense. One is that you’ve got to push the boundaries if you want to stand out in a city of more than eight million.

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She’s got a distinctive style, but her best accessory is her megawatt smile.

Another is that closets here are so small, you’re pretty much forced to mix and match the few items you own with maximum…let’s just call it “creativity.”

Or maybe it’s down to the city’s unofficial motto: “London: The City Too Busy To Do Laundry.” So just wear whatever smells least like stale sweat and spilled beer. Even if that means donning a sombrero and flippers.

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Or…whatever these are.

I love how the one guy has accessorized with a flat cap. Now that is CLASS.

Notice how the one guy has accessorized with a flat cap? Now that is CLASS.

But you know what? It’s liberating–and I love the fact that you never know what you might see when you step out the door…or onto the Tube.

I supposed it's a good advertisement for London's Underground that it's the preferred mode of transport for Hermes, the messenger god known for speed.

I suppose it’s a good advertisement for London’s Underground that it’s the preferred mode of transport for Hermes, the messenger god known for speed.

Or, indeed, at the airport. (I bet security had a field day with this Luton cowboy).Luton cowboy_3215

I also appreciate the fact that London is a melting pot, a hodgepodge of cultures that set their own sartorial standards. Brick Lane is one of the best places to see them intersect.

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Brick Lane, East London’s cultural “catwalk.”

Camden, on the other hand (and sometimes both hands…and arms…and legs) is tops for tattoo-spotting.

People with tattoos and mohawks in Camden, London

I wonder if her shoes match her handbag? Somehow, I doubt she’d be bothered.

There’s only one real rule. When the sun comes out, the clothes come off, whether you’re young or…less young. And no one blinks an eye.

Lazing on a sunny afternoon in Hyde Park.

Lazing on a sunny afternoon in Hyde Park.

So, you want to wear a duct taped box on your head? Go ahead. No one’s stopping you.

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Unleash your inner self. Embrace the weirdness. This is London.

"Before;" Me as a proper Southern girl in a monogrammed sweater and lace collar, with my family circa (cough, cough).

“Before:” Me as a proper Southern girl in a monogrammed sweater and lace collar, with my family circa (cough, cough).

"After:" A cocktail dress, tiara and flip-flops? That's just how we roll, people. (Sorry, Mom).

“After:” Me at a Bermondsey BBQ, attired in a cocktail dress, tiara and…flip-flops. That’s just how we roll, people. (Sorry, Mom).

You ain’t seen nothing yet, my friends. Check out my photos of the Notting Hill Carnival, a visual feast of sequins, feathers…and not much else, when it comes to clothes: http://amylaughinghouse.com/?p=3357

 

 

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