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What Do I Wear There? Study Abroad in the United Kingdom & Ireland


Study abroad in the UK

This week is the first site-specific post for the “Study Abroad” series, and by popular demand, it will be focusing in on the United Kingdom and Ireland

Before I share all of the awesome information some of the wonderful CF readers as well as some of my own friends have given me from their experiences, I want to make two quick notes:

  • All of the information here is taken from advice I have received–it is not a binding set of rules for how to dress in these locations! These are simply some helpful suggestions on what articles of clothing have proved most functional and worth that valuable packing space for those who have traveled abroad.
  • Because of the nature of these posts–which are trying to cater to such a large crowd of people going to all different places within the United Kingdom and Ireland–I am forced to generalize. However, I do understand that fashion is different not just in the different countries but also in the different regions of each country. Therefore, please feel free to correct me or add more detail in the comments if you think your specific location in the United Kingdom follows different fashion “rules” or subscribes to a different way of dressing that I did not mention!

Now, on to the advice!

Layer, Layer, Layer (Yes, that many layers)!

One of the things recommended to me from all of my sources (who are all amazing girls, credited at the bottom of this article) was to bring clothes that you can layer. This allows you to have more variation in your wardrobe (and more space in your suitcase) than simply packing a lot of shirts, dresses, etc. that have to be worn on their own. This is also essential since you will be there for the change from colder to warmer weather.

For ideas on what pieces to bring for layering, check out my Study Abroad: Part I article!

Add in Accessories

In the original post, I know many people commented on the importance of accessories when studying abroad. Accessories are essential because they can take an outfit from day to night and add variety to your wardrobe. Considering the limited room you have to pack, accessories are definitely a great way to make up for the lack of clothing you can bring! Here are some accessories that were recommended to me as being hot in the UK and Ireland right now:


Product Information: Leopard Print Scarf: Buckle, Hat: Topshop, Bow Headband: Forever 21, Studded Belt: Forever 21, Necklace: Nordstrom

Another general consensus from former study abroad-ers in the UK and Ireland was that scarves are essential, which makes sense since the winters there tend to be a bit chilly! One student told me that leopard print is huge there as well, and I think the scarf above is such a cute way to incorporate the pattern into your daily look.

Along the same lines, slouchy knit hats (which I have a well-documented love for!) are great for the cooler weather. I have also seen/been told that these hats are trendy in the UK and Ireland, as well as more structured ones in dark colors for a slightly more eclectic menswear look.

For a super girly daytime look or a fun night look, over-the-top headbands are great pieces to bring with you. They add excitement to an otherwise plain outfit and can be tailored to fit your personal style–this one has a huge bow in a pretty muted color, but you can get ones with flowers, neons, feather, or whatever else you love!

While looking through various UK and Irish street style blogs, I noticed that many girls really pulled their looks together using waist-cinching belts. From studded ones (like the one pictured above) to more traditional leather ones, belts are another smart way to change up your looks without taking up too much suitcase space.

Finally, don’t forget to bring along your favorite jewelry staples. Interesting necklaces, bracelets, and rings not only do wonders for your outfit but also act as conversation starters for all of the new people you will meet!

Classic Coats

The general consensus of my study abroad sources was that pea coats and trench coats are the way to go in the UK and Ireland. These coats are great staples to have anyway, so they are definitely smart investments!

Trench coats look chic in solids and add a cheeky element to any outfit in a print, while pea coats are preppy-perfect in dark or bright colors. No matter what type you decide, these are two basics that I have been told are “essential” in the UK and Ireland and are great to have for colder weather pretty much anywhere you go.

Sure-Bet Shoes

I have heard many mixed things about what shoes to wear in the UK and Ireland, but one characteristic was common in every suggestion: comfort! Most suggested bringing a nice, dependable pair of boots, as well as a pair of flats that work for class or for going out and sneakers for any major excursions. Converse shoes are apparently pretty popular there and are available in so many colors, so they may be a smart buy if you need a new pair of sneakers.

Another suggestion I commonly received was to limit the number of heeled shoes you bring due to the difficulties they cause when you’re trying to strut across cobblestones. An amazing pair of shoes will be decidedly less adorable if they cause you to limp!

Lastly, as I said in the original post, don’t forget to bring along shoes for warmer weather! Sandals are tiny and don’t take up much room in your suitcase. They are also useful in the winter to throw on if you are just walking around your dorm.

If you happen to be a shoe-a-holic like me, I would try to take the clever advice of one CF reader, who said she was able to pick her pairs by “choos[ing] the pairs you want to bring, cut that in half, and then pack those.” This is especially smart if you think you might want to buy more shoes while you’re abroad. (I know I plan to!)

Rain, Rain, Here to Stay

The idea of dressing for rainy weather was a recurring worry in my previous posts. Unfortunately, I once again have received some mixed answers to the question of rain gear or no rain gear.

So while an umbrella is an absolute MUST (check out my CF Fabulous Finds: Marc by Marc Jacobs Umbrella post for my personal favorite, as well as those of your fellow readers), donning rain boots is a bit more subjective. While it seems like some people do wear rain boots in particularly bad weather, many seem to prefer water-proofing their daily beloved boots/shoes.

My overall suggestion on this matter is not to bring a rain coat or rain boots with you. I would absolutely make sure your coat is waterproof and spray your shoes to ensure they hold up in rainy weather instead. Rain boots are typically rather bulky, so I think it would be best to forgo packing them and instead buy a pair abroad if you find you really need them.


One of my favorite things about reading all of the responses was seeing what you guys suggested for websites and shopping spots in the United Kingdom (unfortunately I only received these sort of tips for England but the sites/spots suggested were so great I wanted to include them).

I have always loved the crazy cool style of British blog star Susie Bubble, and some of you suggested her site to see what’s hot in the UK as well ( Another fabulous site a reader suggested is In her words,

Here is a great blog that not only talks about street style, but also less touristy areas of London that you definitely want to get around to visiting.”

Many who traveled to London also suggested shopping at Portobello Road, which is full of great vintage finds!

My Study Abroad Sources

I just wanted to take this time to thank the lovely girls who have given me all of the wonderful advice you see above. I have chosen this advice from the detailed comments, e-mails, or messages from Amanda from NYU, Carolyn, Mo, Lauren, and Amanda! All of these girls have either studied abroad or live/have lived in the UK or Ireland, so they truly know what they are talking about.

Be sure to thank them in the comments as well! They all took out so much time to help you guys from their experience.

What do you think?

Do these tips fit in with your travel experience? Have you noticed these trends in the UK countries and Ireland as well? Do you have any additional tips that you think are important? Do you know of any other websites or shopping spots that are great for those going to the UK or Ireland? Tell us in the comments!

Also, keep the e-mails and comments coming for advice for other countries! Next week, I will be looking at France, Spain, and Germany (each will have its own little section since they were all pretty much tied for popularity following the UK), so e-mail me at whatdoiwearthere AT gmail DOT com with any tips for these places!

Posted on on November 29, 2009 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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62 Responses to “What Do I Wear There? Study Abroad in the United Kingdom & Ireland”

  1. 1
    November 29th, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    My best friend studied abroad in Northern Ireland (in Belfast) this past spring and I visited her in the middle of May after I graduated and all I have to say is that I 100% agree on the umbrella thing. It rained the entire time I was there, and had I been there longer I probably would have bought a pair of rainboots. Rain had a way of just getting in my shoes and it was such a pain.

  2. 2
    November 29th, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I would love if you could do a post about studying in Greece or Rome!

  3. 3
    November 29th, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    I one hundred percent agree with the umbrella and everything else! I live and study in Ireland where it rains almost continuously from October to March so boots, a warm coat and an umbrella are a necessity. Our summers are pretty much non-existent with a random month of sunshine somewhere between April and July so don’t bring too many summer clothes. Loads of thin and flattering layers which can be worn on their own in ‘summer’ are probably the best option.

  4. 4
    November 29th, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I have a headband with a bow on the top, can anyone suggest a simple outfit for it? I want to wear it but I dont want to look like a present!
    thank you

  5. 5
    November 29th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Be very fashionable because UK girls are extremely fashion forward. It was really nice when I was studying there this whole summer. Sometimes too hot. But I know it rains like crazy too. Bring a good coat, trench cuz its the UK, nice boots and can’t stress this enough your medication! But don’t overpack like me because you will be buying so much stuff.

  6. 6
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    I agree with Liz, a post on Rome would be great!!! I’m so happy you decided to do this study abroad series. I have been reading all your articles and they have been so so so helpful!!! Thank you!!

  7. 7
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Great post! This is so practical and useful. Looking forward to other posts in this series (:

  8. 8
    November 29th, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Ooo this was awesome! Thank you so much, Colleen! This was so exactly the information that I wanted that would have been so hard to dig out, yay!

    To Colleen’s researchers (or anyone else who’s gone to the U.K./spec. Edinburgh), how did y’all deal with your hair? Rain rain rain = straightening is a bad idea, right? Are the straighteners that you buy there any different? (I know you should NEVER buy hair dye there, since it’s crazy more intense than here, chock full of follicle-killing chemicals — is it the same with heat styling products?)

    I’m thinking of getting my hair chemically straightened just to not have to deal with the drama abroad — have people who chemically straightened their hair beforehand had good experiences with U.K. moisture afterwards?

  9. 9
    November 30th, 2009 at 12:29 am

    love this post!! i will not be studying abroad but i’ll be in scotland for the summer, so it still comes in handy. really looking forward to more in this series!!
    i’ve checked this blog everyday for months now, but this is my first comment.

  10. 10
    November 30th, 2009 at 1:21 am

    great post! I am going to London and Paris for ten days in January and am at a loss for what to pack. I think that I have a better idea now. Is Paris’s weather any different from London’s? And could you post examples of the coats that you are talking about? I need a new coat but have no idea what to get. Are leggings a good idea or will I freeze? I just love that they are easy to fit in my suitcase :] Packing light is not going to be easy…

  11. 11
    November 30th, 2009 at 3:50 am

    Paris weather is a little better then London weather. Less rain, sometimes a little less cold.
    Leggings are good but if you’re used to nice and warm weather all the time you will freeze a little I guess. In January it’s somewere between 0 and 5 degrees celsius.

  12. 12
    November 30th, 2009 at 4:19 am

    Hi, I’m not a student abroad (altho my friend & I did a semester in Copenhagen when we were in college & loved it!). I stumbled on your blog because I was curious who was coming to my blog from yours (mine is streetstyle london) & I was so flattered to read this!

    Thank you to whichever reader recommended it.

    I’ve got to run out now – in this weather – but had to put my two cents in re: t

    he weather issue: I find more helpful than an umbrella – which I always lose, and it’s such a nuisance when it stops raining (plus, half the time, the rain is more like a wet misty cloud, so an umbrella doesn’t really stop it – it moves sideways) – is a good lightweight hooded waterproof parka. I got one from my sister-in-law for post xmas years ago (I’m sure it was a re-gift, but it was the best gift) – I often roll it up & stuff it in a bag even if the sun is out.. you never know.

    For what it’s worth, those here (in London) for the first time: it’s not usually this bad! This is freaky weather which is why we’ve got to keep on working to stop global warming. But the good news is, the winters are mild: none of that brutally cold, snowy weather. This is almost as bad as it gets.

    Better go out, in said parka – hope you’re enjoying yourselves, wherever you are!

  13. 13
    November 30th, 2009 at 4:50 am

    To Karissa: For Paris, I’d advise dressing a little conservatively, but still stylish. The same sort of warm tench/pea coat would work there, the people are very well put together! I really stood out in my biker jacket last time, but in the slightly self concious way lol.

    I live in Central London, and the one thing you guys should look out for is dressing like a hiker. A reccuring joke in Central is the swarms of tourists looking like they are climbing mountains in stiff, brightly coloured polyester jackets and chunky lace up boots. Layering is definitely the way to go in terms of warmth, but wellington boots with leggings/tights etc are commonly seen in the current rainy weather. Everyone likes brightly coloured and patterned ones too!

    One last piece of advice: speaking as an asian girl, please be careful with the asian street stall dealers. If you show interest in their stock they will literally ignore you as they shove it into bags and demand money. They can be very very pushy and rude. Hope thats helps!

  14. 14
    November 30th, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Seeing as you barely mentioned Ireland throughout that post, May I please advice you to remove the sentence saying you will look at Ireland as a whole, because discussing Ireland in a article about the UK is offensive, and a bit like stating that America and Canada can be discussed as if they are one place.

  15. 15
    November 30th, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Haha yes definitely bring an umbrella! I live in the UK so I always have a brolly in my handbag incase of those suprise showers or the horrible rain & wind we have around this time of year.
    Leggings are still popular over here, they are good for layering up & dressing down a nice dress (giving you two options!)
    Oooh & I would say a cosy hoodie is a nice idea too, everyone at my university lives in them on those lazy days.
    A good handbag might also be worth thinking of, they can make a statement and can complete an outift :)

  16. 16
    November 30th, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Hi there, I might be the only one. But any chance of you doing an article on Australia? (:

  17. 17
    November 30th, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Not everyone is studying in Europe!
    How about something for South America and the Caribbean Islands! I’m sure the hot/humid weather could call for some cute summery clothes, even in the winter.

  18. 18
    November 30th, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Blliant, you pretty mcyh captured the essentials of our fashion trends! I’m impressed lol. Great suggestions and a good research basis. Always prepare fore rain, this time of year 9/10 times it WILL. a mini bag umbrella is a good fail safe and space saver :)

  19. 19
    November 30th, 2009 at 10:55 am

    thanks tamsin!

  20. 20
    November 30th, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I think that maybe you shoud talk about Italian style too…in Milan every year fshion changes, even during winter…anyway thanks for the post :D vey nice

  21. 21
    November 30th, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Hi again, just got in and read this and hope you don’t mind me adding more stuff, but I find it fascinating because when I did my semester abroad, there were no blogs! And frankly, we were the first of our friends to go, and it felt like going on a one way trip to Mars – leaving boyfriend, family, friends, and not knowing what to find on the other end – and without email, phone calls too expensive to be an option, and letters taking several weeks, it really was like going to another planet. You girls are much more connected to home than we were, but I bet it’s no less scary (or exciting).

    1st: leggings: excellent idea. Paris is probably the same as London, both cities’ climates are milder than NY/New England weather (except today ; )

    2nd: Was really touched by Tamsin’s comments, because a biker jacket is such a coveted fashion item here (London) & I’m sure in Paris, too. So any self consciousness you felt, Tamsin, from what you thought were stares from other women, were probably stares of envy (french women can be quite envious!) & wondering where you found it, and wishing they had your perfect biker jacket. ; )

    I agree that the one look to avoid anywhere in Europe is the top-to-toe mountain climber look: the brightly coloured Patagonia gear – which screams American tourist – but apart from that, in most places and especially London, the most important thing you can do is BE YOURSELF. Which means, wear the hiking boots – with sequined dress – be ironic, have fun with it, and don’t worry about trying to fit in.

    I’ve discovered in my years here as an old married woman (who still dresses like a teenager) that while London is an incredibly stylish city, what is valued above everything is individual expression: ‘eccentricity’. So if you have curly hair that frizzes up, leave the straightening products home and embrace the frizz. (and if you need a trim while you’re in London, go to Windle in Covent Garden & ask for Collette – the address & link are somewhere in this post:

    It really is anything goes, style wise. Pack light, bring a trench if you have it, or get one here in a charity shop (translation, thrift store), wear your biker jacket & your favourite boots & pack a bunch of layers (& when in doubt, if you want to fit in, just wear black) & anything you haven’t brought, supplement with a trip to CAMDEN LOCK, SPITALFIELDS MARKET, and cheap chains like Topshop, Zara, or H&M.

    The beauty of being in the UK (& I assume other European countries) is we have an NHS (National Health Service) here which means if anything happens, if you need medical care, just walk into a hospital ER. You won’t need insurance and they will care for you and all you need give is your name and ID. If you need prescription medicine, after the initial fee, medicine should be free, too. It’s very different to America in that respect.

    The most important advice I’d give is this: you will never again have this particular experience, being in the country you’re in at the age you are. So who gives a toss what you’re wearing, long as you’re warm enough & dry enough. It’s about having fun & learning, and what better way to learn than to experience life. So excited for you all!

  22. 22
    November 30th, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Coming from a UK person, In the UK, no matter how much you wish, it’s going to be cold at some point. If you are packing october-april you’re going to need lots of layers, especially coat and a jacket underneat, because most college/unis will have heating inside so you need to be able to remove stuff and put it back on,

    For shoes, sneakers aren’t really in, I’d recommend Boots,with some thick socks inside, as they are very big and don’t look like they’re going out of fashion for a while. Also, in summer plimsoles are quite big. A favourite of mine for cold weather also, is because I don’t wear jeans much, i wear leggings with 2 pairs of thick tights underneath to keep me warm!

    Also, even in summer, feel free to pack lots of summer stuff as we do occasionally get some lovely summers, but do remember to bring a coat and umbrella just incase.
    And, if you’re out here and need some cheap clothes to update your wardrobe, Primark
    hope that helped :P

  23. 23
    November 30th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    you should take a jacket with a hood because unless you have a really strong umbrella it will go inside out and might break if it gets really windy,also they’re probably the easiest thing to lose.

  24. 24
    November 30th, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I just want to say that Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom and it’s kind of offensive to say that considering all the trouble we’ve had in the past 100 years. Other than that the article was good. It rains a LOT. And at the moment it’s very very cold. Make sure to pack for rain though if coming to Ireland, because we’ve had major floods lately.

  25. 25
    November 30th, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    @Jennifer Ryan, I don’t thinks she meant it in a way as to subsume Ireland into the United Kingdom but more that the advice could also be applied to students who are coming to Ireland for study abroad. After all, we have the same weather and close to the same style as England!

  26. 26
    November 30th, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Hey guys!

    Thank you all so so much for the additional advice in these comments! Since I am studying abroad in the UK as well, I am very excited to read all of this fabulous advice.

    To address the comments about Ireland, I did feel slightly uncomfortable group Ireland in here as a whole since I know the country has struggled politically for so many years. However, the advice I was given (a lot of which did come from people in Ireland, I just did not differentiate the countries when giving the above advice for the most part) was from people who said they were simply from “Ireland” and did not give an exact location.

    Therefore, after some serious thought, I did decide to group Ireland together as a whole since the differences are political and not environmental. For the purposes of this article–which is looking at how to dress properly in a new and different climate–this did seem to make the most sense.

    Once again, I am sorry for any hurt this has caused. I hope that the article was otherwise helpful!

  27. 27
    December 1st, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Extremely true about the rain!
    I’m from Scotland and live on the west coast which is incredibly rainy!
    Although you do want to stay dry, keep warm etc. You will find that a lot of the girls over here sort of just stick it out.. coming from somewhere warm you will clearly be a lot colder than the girls over here but I suppose you’ll end up just adapting to the weather conditions.

    Jeggings are extremely popular over here.Most girls wear them with long tops.
    Although hideous.. UGGs are still popular here.
    Sequins are making a massive comeback for party wear… especially full sequined dresses that are backless.. another one is a bold sequined skirt like.. ..generally folk will tuck a tank top into this (white or black) and then amazing heels to go with it.

    Oh and I can’t stress this enough but a long black cardigan is almost like an essential here. Every girl ends up having them! I got a really nice one for £35 ($60ish?) in topshop :D

    Chunky scarfs and Berets are still in fashion here…thats about as much as I can think of tbh…

  28. 28
    December 1st, 2009 at 1:35 pm


    Anyone who emailed you and referred to themselves as being from Ireland where without a doubt from the Republic of Ireland. No one who lives in Northern Ireland would neglect to say that was exactly where to lived.

    No one refers to themselves as living in Ireland if they live in the Uk ie Northern Ireland and Great Britian.

    Ireland did not have a large war of indepandance so that people could refer to it within an article about the UK.

  29. 29
    December 1st, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    To Emma: It’s uncanny, you’ve described the perfect London wardrobe. If they wear the boots on the flight, they could basically make it thru a semester with a carry on bag, and be totally on trend.

    I’m getting the comments sent, and am really enjoying reading them: so much so I wish I could go abroad again for school.

  30. 30
    December 1st, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Excellent article, with very good tips! Thank you, I might be going to Scotland next year to study so I’m bookmarking this to save in case I do.

    Speaking as a child of two Irish immigrants – I think a better move might be to change the title to “Study Abroad in the United Kingdom and Ireland.” It’s not the grouping in the same post so much as the assumption (as given by the omission of Ireland in the title) that Ireland is part of the UK that is potentially offensive.

  31. 31
    December 1st, 2009 at 5:51 pm


    I very much understand where you are coming from when you grouped them together. However, it’s very much like saying America and Canada are the same country, or Australia and New Zealand. It’s no different just because we are a small island. I am stating that I have nothing against English people or the country, or anything like that, but the fact is I’m Irish, and not British. I’m sure you understand how volatile it can be if you call a Canadian, an American (not that there’s anything wrong with being American!)

    I am not attacking you, I just wish to state that it is a very touchy subject over here and can be taken very offensively.

  32. 32
    December 1st, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I don’t get the fuss…Colleen didn’t say that Ireland and England are the same country, or even say that Ireland was in the UK. All she said was that because they are very similar climates and the style is the same, she will include everything she has said in this article can apply to Ireland as well.

    I’m from Wales and study in England and I have a few Irish friends; their general style is similar to those of us who are from the UK.

    Do you want Colleen to do a separate article on Ireland. Because imo that would be unbelievably pointless.

    Great article though! And I love what Emma said about the long black cardigan..its soo true, I wear it ALL the time!!

    Just one thing to add- I notice a lot of the American students over here tend to regularly wear trainers/ tennis shoes as part of their normal wardrobe. Over here not many people do unless you’re actually going to the gym or doing a sport!!

  33. 33
    December 3rd, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    i really appricated the artical, since i plan on studying abroad soon. i cant wait too see what other countries you feature. Having been to england several times, i totally agree with all the points you make. one suggestion i would make though is to bring a pair of rain boots (wellies as they call them their) since sometimes it can get really mucky, espcially if you plan on going to outdoor concerts.

  34. 34
    December 24th, 2009 at 6:49 am

    hey cu do one for australia please?
    im going there next year feb!

  35. 35
    December 28th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    hey i think this article is extremely useful. i agree with the rain thing and if you are coming over to the uk it is extremely important to have a decent umbrella and not one of those cheapy pound shop ones that break in 5 minutes. spend at least £10 (around $15 i think) and it should last you for a while

  36. 36
    January 3rd, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I’m from the UK, and just for the record IT DOES NOT RAIN ALL OF THE TIME HERE!! :)

    To be honest, although ‘rain boots’ aka wellies sound like a good idea, I’d only bring them if you plan on going to festivals. Silly as it sounds, if you wear wellies as casual clothing, it’s generally thought of as a little weird. I noticed when I visited New York that so many people wore wellies and it was perfectly normal, and it would make sense to wear them here since it does rain more than you guys are probably used to, but it’s just not done. At least I’ve never experienced it being the done thing.

    Other points to make:

    1. Leggings are really really in right now and the majority of female students that I see walking around my town are wearing them. However, avoid the ‘I forgot my pants’ look, as you would normally, no matter how many girls you see doing it. We hate it too.

    2. Leather jackets are very popular but I have noticed that this year duffle coats are the big thing, especially in bright colours! I have a purple one and it’s so cosy, plus the pockets are dead useful!

    3. I agree with a lot that was said in the post, for example that scarves are a must, and that’s also true for wasit belts to cinch outfits. And nobody in my sixth form doesn’t own a slouchy knit hat; they’re like a body part or something!

    4. In fact, the hat part also applies to Uggs or fake Uggs. If you really want to assume the definitive British or Irish – and thank you for acknowledging the political difference even though our climates are basically identical – student girl casual look, you will NEED a pair. However, I personally take that to be a reason NOT to wear them, so I totally agree with you if you want to break the mould ;-) although furry boots of some kind would be useful for keeping your feet toasty in the winter if you’re from somewhere warmer.

    4. Bring a good pair of go-with-everything boots, a couple of pairs of ballet flats and some heels, and you will be fine. Converse are popular but funnily enough it’s mostly with guys. I have two pairs but haven’t worn them for a year or so – the American girl in my class, however, wears them almost every day! I don’t know; your choice.

    5. Boyfriend blazers for class. Definitely.

    6. Finally, remember that the clothes you wear depend totally on the region you are in. Scotland is very much colder and wetter than other parts of the UK and Ireland, especially on the east coast. Generally, the north of England is fairly cold (and yes, wet), whereas the midlands and Wales aren’t so bad and the south, especially the south west, are a lot warmer and dryer. Anywhere with hills will get snow and lots of it (there’s presently a foot of it in my garden! I’m in the midlands). With Ireland the same applies, it gets warmer towards the bottom! Stop me if this is general knowledge, but Colleen did mention the difference between regions so I thought I should go into some more detail to help out.

    And hey – we both have Topshop and love it, so our styles can’t be that different, huh? But you also wanna check out Miss Selfridge and H&M. Zara is good too. Don’t know if you have those….?

  37. 37
    January 3rd, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I live in england! Don’t bother with umberellas the wind just blows them inside out & also hoodies hoodies hoodies everyone has them! And they can look chic! x

  38. 38
    January 4th, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    I’m wondering about color–I’m studying abroad in Ireland next semester, and I tend to dress in bright colors. Will this make me stand out as an American?

  39. 39
    January 7th, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Re: Bri
    Bright colours shouldn’t make you stand out at all! A lot of Irish girls love wearing bright colours!! The only things that americans wear which makes them stand out are North Face and wellies!! What part of Ireland are you going to?

    If you’re going to Galway, then any style goes really as it’s quite an easy going studenty city! It does rain ALOT though so I’d suggest getting a good jacket to withstand the rain!! Also Galway is a very windy city so I wouldn’t suggest getting an umbrella as it’ll be broken/gone/floating down the Corrib in 5 mins flat.

    Also remember (esp if you’re walking to college) that Ireland isn’t as cold as it is rainy, if you’re walking you’ll quickly warm up! What I suggest (after 4 years there!) is to wear a thin(ish) long sleeved t-shirt underneath a good warm thick jacket and to bring a cardigan and scarf in your bag for in the classroom/library.

    You may want to bring gloves/hat and other wintery bits as we’re having the coldest weather in almost 30 years here which weather forcasters have no idea when it’s going to end.

    And also TO ALL VISITING STUDENTS to stock up on vitamin C!! I’ve seen SO MANY foreign students thinking that it’s just the coldness that they need to tackle without realising that Ireland is quite damp which can causes so many colds! I remember meeting a group of french students who said that the biggest weather shock to them was the amount of colds they kept getting!!

    But it’s not all bad, when we get sunny days in May and June, the country looks even more beautiful!!!

    So Good Luck and Enjoy!!!

  40. 40
    January 8th, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I’m so enjoying reading this thread even tho it’s so long since I was a student abroad (& in my case it was in Copenhagen – we started in January, it was freezing, and I immediately came down with the flu).

    Bri: those last three posts, Niamh’s, Emily’s about the umbrellas, and Stephs, are so perfect. I’m amazed at how trends are different than in the states but don’t worry too much: bring what you have, what you like – definitely bright colours, why not, esp if you’re happy in them. One thing I’ve noticed here in London, and it’s probably no different at universities, is that the most important thing stylistically is BE YOURSELF and be true to yourself. People wear the most ridiculous stuff – Great Britain is the home of the English Eccentric, remember! In fact, if there is one look that’s the most popular right now, I’d have to call it ‘English Eccentric’.

    In East London – Spitalfields market area, and Camden – where a lot of style originates – I’m seeing people mixing up patterns.. anything goes. Just bring layers, which like everyone’s saying, you’ll need to peel on & off even thru the summer – and just have a great time. Just remember you will never be a student abroad, in that place, again. You can come back, but you won’t be in this particular experience. I don’t remember what I wore when I was there, but I”ll never forget the people I met, and places I went, the things I did.

    I’m quite excited for all of you, actually!

  41. 41
    March 16th, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I love St. Patty’s Day!


  42. 42
    March 17th, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Re: Ashley

    Don’t mean to dampen the festive spirit but just to advise you that it’s either St.Patricks Day or St. Paddy’s Day, NEVER St.Patty’s Day!! Some of us find it a little insulting, not to mention Patty is a girls name!!

    Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!!!

  43. 43
    April 4th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I’m studying abroad in England for a couple months in the summer and I’ve been debating bringing my rain boots. I already have a pair, they’re sleek and black and hardly look like rain boots, but still do. I love them but I’m scared that i will stand out too much- do people wear rainboots there?

  44. 44
    April 5th, 2010 at 3:28 am

    to Lola: If you love them, bring them! I can’t think of a more chic look than a pretty summer dress with bare legs and sleek black hardly-look-like-rain-boots.

    I’m so touched by your comment, esp. about being scared you’ll stand out (i.e. as not being English). I don’t know your nationality, but I’m an American, and when I moved here with my English husband, I actually thought of I didn’t speak, I might ‘pass’ for English! (& I’m normally pretty chatty). I, too, was so worried about not standing out, about ‘fitting in’. I had no idea that a) there are TONS of Americans (and even more foreigners) b) tons of foreign students and c) it doesn’t matter! There is no norm, really, about fitting in: women of all ages are much more comfortable in their own skin, IN GENERAL, than in other countries: if your hair is curly, forget the curling irons. The people with the best ‘style’ are the ones with their own style, wearing what they love: what they feel happy in.

    I can’t tell you how many times someone asked where I was from, I told them (NY) and they said ‘oh I’d love to live there! I’m planning to visit …’ and then go on to tell me their plans.

    You will probably be at festivals – in fields, with tons of mud – and be kicking yourself that you didn’t bring your beloved rain boots. My suggestion is bring them, bring whatever else makes you smile & feel good about yourself, but try to pack as light as possible – it’s summer, after all – and then forget about all that, and focus on having a wonderful, magic adventure this summer!

    Get in touch when you’re here!

  45. 45
    January 9th, 2011 at 3:13 am

    not only am I keeping up with your blog now, but I’ve read and taken detailed notes from your comments!!
    So I’m definitely leaving the umbrella at home, definitely bringing my H&M trench coat, flats, leggings, and flats.
    As far as boots go….I’ve had a pair of knee high black “rain” boots that aren’t really rain boots for about 10 years now. (They were in, then out, and are back in!) And was already planning in investing in a new pair of boots, and then Study Abroad at U of Leicester :) made my day. I was wondering what would be good…leather? water-proofed suede or some other sort of material? And is knee high a good length? I’m personally not a fan of over the knee boots and was never in to the ankle boots.

    You’re so sweet to follow up with readers comments and offer advice!!

  46. 46
    January 10th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Hi Charissa, first, THANK YOU for your support!

    It’s a good thing I get follow up comments sent (does this mean that everyone who commented on this is getting this? If so -sorry to bother you ; )

    It’s funny… where is it… I just saw on someone’s blog this weekend, a wonderful guide to how to dress for the weather here. Oh I know who it is! She’s wonderful:

    Those black knee high ‘rain’ boots sound perfect. My main wardrobe staple (until I recently got gifted a pair of Mou’s) is a reasonably priced, classic black leather riding boot – knee high, flat heel.. I’m actually wearing them in my post from last New Year’s Day – stalking deer.

    My suggestion is don’t waste a penny on buying anything in advance – you’ll need all you can just to deal with the exchange rate on a student budget – and see how you feel when you get here. I still feel that ‘wellies’ are perfect in summer for festivals, mud, etc and look great with bare legs and little floral flirty dresses, so it sounds like what you’ve already got is ideal. I’m not seeing much over the knee on anyone on the streets, and the little short bootie, too – anything with a crazy heel is fine for showing off but it’s useless for day to day.

    How random is this: tomorrow I and a bunch of other fashion bloggers are meeting at St. Pancreas station at 8:00 a.m. to take a train to LEICESTER for a day trip for Next.

  47. 47
    May 7th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    For those of you that have been to England, what kind of umbrella would you recommend? I currently have a trendy black and white umbrella that has the buttom that clicks open and closed. I was really considering buying one of those bulb ones, the clear see-through-ones that basically comes down around you. Would you recommend a wooden handle, or an umbrella that has the clicky button? Also would you buy one once you arrive or prior?

    Thanks :)

  48. 48
    May 7th, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Re: Kaitlin

    I’ve not been to England, but being Irish I can perhaps advise you on umbrella buying! To be honest I would advise buying when you’ve arrived in England, no point in hauling extra stuff with you on the trip over.

    The next thing you should consider is price. Yes, you could go for a more expensive one (personally I MUCH prefer the umbrellas with clicky handles, just easier when a quick downpour occurs!) but as long as you are careful with possessions. Many of my friends would just buy the cheapest of the cheap as where I lived, the wind could easily break umbrellas, or they may just have known that they were a bit ditzy and likely to lose them in pubs/canteens/classrooms.

    In my opinion however, especially if you are good at keeping things, you should spend that little bit more on an umbrella that will withstand strong wind and has a clicky handle. It will definitely be worth the money and really you shouldn’t pay anymore than €20 (I’m afraid I have no idea about conversion to £, sorry!) for a good umbrella.

    Good Luck and Have Fun!!!

  49. 49
    June 30th, 2012 at 10:38 am

    As a UK native (essex) please do us all a favour and leave the fake tan! There are enough orange people! Other than that, bring cardi’s or jumpers, cause even the hot days are a bit chilly! Skinny jeans are a must, and converse/leather boots are fine. We may be stylish but comfort always comes first! Tee’s are perfect for layering. We have the best high streets so you can always find a bargain over here so leave a little space in your suitcase! Xx

  50. 50
    July 25th, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    (Before I start, I’m a different Ashley then the one before) :) But I’m traveling to Ireland with my school in Ocober and I have a few questions: a) how do girls wear their hair? I know it’s rainy so I wasn’t planning on bringing my straightener since my hair waves with any humidity. Is it more common/practical to wear it up or down? b) what are the best, but still stylish, shoes to wear? I was thinking leather or waterproof suede boots with little to no heel considering there will be lots of walking and c) should my coat be waterproof or should I rely more on an umbrella to keep me dry? Thanks for any help! And by the way I found this blog to be sooo helpful!

  51. 51
    July 25th, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I forgot to mention this but I also loved the slouchy knit hats! So cute!

  52. 52
    December 13th, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    This all sounds great, but when winter arrives these things won’t keep you warm.. Right now, when I leave the house, I’m wearing (for example) a cotton tanktop, a knitted sweater, a regular cardigan, a thick knitted cardigan, a normal pair of leggings, a thermal pair of leggings, cotton socks, super woolly socks and uggs.
    Top this with a thick wintercoat, a huge warm scarf and a hat lined with fleece..
    STILL cold!

    People who tell you to just buy a peacoat and bring some boots probably have a great tolerance to cold, or just don’t have to go outside when it’s well below freezing. The air here is very humid so the cold chills you to the bone.

    Just a heads up for people who aren’t very good at dealing with cold!

  53. 53
    December 20th, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I’m an Irish native, and generally a tank top, a sweater and a wool coat will keep me nice and warm with a pair of jeans and boots. The others are right, umbrellas don’t last long here with the wind, but they’re still kind of an essential. I suggest just buying one in Penneys (the Irish name for Primark) for a few euro and replacing it when you need to. Even the expensive ones don’t seem to survive!

    But don’t be scared off by all these comments. It’s really never extremely cold here, and though it rains a lot more than many climates, it’s certainly not every day!

    Also, I go to Trinity College, Dublin, which is a major tourist destination because it’s so old, and I can tell you that the quickest way to spot an American tourist is by their shoes. They always seem to wear sports shoes as casual shoes, whereas the only sneakers a stylish Irish person would wear are Converse. You can also spot them by their rain-ready clothing. Irish people dress like normal people, despite the rain, but I suppose tourists are told that the climate here is wet so they go all out with their rain gear.

    I’d say buy a pair of Hunter rain boots though. They are functional, and are a BIG fashion trend right now with a skirt/dress, tights, and a pair of thick socks, or even with a pair of skinny jeans and a nice coat :-)

  54. 54
    December 21st, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    One thing I will say about rain boots is while they are completely practical in Ireland where I am I’ve found nobody really wears them day to day, a good pair of leather boots should be enough to keep out the rain! In my college you can always spot the American students because they’re always wearing wellies (what we call rain boots over here!) Reason we don’t really wear them over here is our weather is so variable, it’ll be sunny one minute and raining the next so if you wear wellies you can end up at the end of the day looking a bit ridiculous!

  55. 55
    April 10th, 2013 at 5:39 am

    hi all, i have no idea about UK and one of my close friend is getting married to the one(INDIAN) who is settled in UK. but i want my friend to be safe. just want to understand what all she must carry to UK to protect her from Weather.

    can anyone please suggest me so that i can get it done from my end and gift her the same.


  56. 56
    August 17th, 2013 at 2:59 am


  57. 57
    June 21st, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    I will be studying in Scotland in September for my full undergraduate degree (English, btw), and I’m from Colorado, USA. I’m definitely not used to the rain, but am looking forward to something different (for now, lol…).
    I plan on buying and bringing a trench with me, along with a long and a short peacoat. How important would you say it is that companies offering trenchcoats specify that it’s “waterproof” vs. water resistant, or say nothing at all? Do they all pretty much work the same?
    Also, Colorado is a very dry climate, with LOTS of sun year round, hot in the summer, cold (negatives to 40’s on a good day in the winter, F), so I feel like I won’t need to over-pack for cold, but I’m not sure how the humid climate there will increase how cold it feels. Anyone with experience coming from a cold, dry climate to a cold, wet one?

  58. 58
    June 21st, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Oh, sorry, also:
    I’m definitely planning on buying a pair of L.L. Bean “duck” boots (they have fabulous reviews and seem to be a university staple for rainy places in the U.S.).

  59. 59
    July 14th, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I’ve just written a hugeeeee reply on my phone but I accidentally closed the page. Grabbed my laptop so I’ll try and remember what I had written down! Everything in this reply is based on my own personal opinion and experience as a 20 year old UK student.

    I live in the north east of England so we get pretty much the worst weather you can in England. I also live close to the coast so the weather is very changeable. Here is my advice to all you international students coming here with the daunting thought that the UK is one big fashion show and everyone will judge what you’re wearing. (they will not, and even if they do, we’re too polite to say anything about it).
    The best way to find out what is on trend at the moment is to go on New Look/Topshop type websites and look at their sections on ‘trends’ ( For example at the moment floral kimonos are a MASSIVE trend, almost everyone has one, but the beauty of trends in the UK is that even if everyone is doing it, most people do it differently. Here is a link for kimonos (

    Weather – the weather can change very quickly. yesterday I went out in a summer outfit only to be hit with a torrential downpour at lunch time. However, this was my own fault, I hadn’t checked the forecast. I base my outfits every day on the weather forecast (Met Office Weather app on my phone). This is a pretty much fool proof way to make sure you don’t get rained on as it gives an hour by hour forecast and is usually pretty accurate. I used to be one of those people who always carried an umbrella, but to be perfectly honest, if you check the forecast and it says its not going to rain, it probably won’t. I never spend more than a couple of quid (pounds £) on an umbrella as they don’t last five minutes. We typically get very definite seasons. Now it is mostly dry and warm with the occasional summer storm, the weather in the last few weeks has been gloriously hot, so in terms of fashion it’s mostly been summer dresses or denim shorts and a top (or shirt ,whatever you want to call it)

    Hair styles – to straighten or not to straighten?! Straight hair isn’t really in at the moment, most people are going for loose waves or big curls (done with straighteners, check out youtube for some really good tutorials) In terms of hair styles, again this depends on the weather. Most days I wear my hair down in loose curls, but if it’s going to be windy, I’ll tie it up into a ponytail or a messy bun just to keep it out of the way. If it’s frizz you’re scared of then fear not! Most people are fighting a battle with frizz so if it rains or is humid and you feel your hair starting to get frizzy, just go with it, no one will care, as they’re probably feeling the same. If anything the messy, just rolled out of bed look is very on trend at the moment so you’ll probably feel like you fit in more!

    Accessories – with accessories, unless it’s a hand bag, statement necklace or statement rings, I’d keep it small. If you’re going for a waist belt, go for a skinny one, the thicker ones went out of style about 3 years ago, same with the big headbands. We’re right in the middle of festival season so there’s a lot of floral headbands in the shops BUT in my personal opinion and experience, these should be worn for festivals and that’s where they should stay! (personal preference again obviously)

    The mountain climber look – this is a sure fire way to stick out like a sore thumb as an international student. Yes, it’s very practical, but if its fitting in that you’re worried about, avoid this as an everyday look.

    Shopping – the best way to find out what people are wearing is to go shopping. pack what you feel comfortable wearing and then when you get here, go walk around the town centre/high street. I love shopping, even if I don’t buy anything, because I usually see inspiration for a new outfit from someone wearing something in a way I hadn’t thought of. Get an NUS student discount card if you can (available through most universities for about £12) this means you can get between 10%-20% off in participating high street stores (BONUS). If you’re shopping on a budget then Primark/Penneys is your new best friend. Items from Primark are super cheap however be warned, leggings from here are very see through and most items will shrink if you wash them on anything higher than 30 degrees C, also I would avoid tumble drying clothes from here. Having said that, I have some great items from Primark that have lasted a longggg time and are still going strong.

    Wellies – or ‘rain boots’. I own a pair of wellies, they only get dragged out of the cupboard when the snow is really heavy in the winter. Last year we didn’t get any heavy snow so they stayed tucked away in the wardrobe. Military style lace up boots were big through the last couple of winters.

    Coats – last year it was all about the parka. For a thick winter coat that is going to keep you warm and dry, you can’t really beat the parka. For milder weather, leather jackets are always stylish. My wardrobe staples are a parka (winter), leather jacket (winter, autumn and spring) and cropped denim jacket (spring and summer). This covers me for all seasons!

    Layers – this is important for students as you might be facing a chilly walk into lectures and then when you get there they have the heating on full blast! Maybe a couple of thin layers or two thick layers. Just to be on the safe side, in the winter I carry my ‘emergency cardigan’ (sounds ridiculous, I know). It’s just a normal thin knit cardigan in a neutral colour like black, that folds up quite small in my handbag in case I get cold.

    Overall, I go with the thought that there will always be someone worse dressed than you! Wear what you think looks good, feels good and is comfortable and you should be fine. It all sounds very hard and complicated, but really it isn’t! Fashion is supposed to be fun!

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