An American’s take on London street style

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Dressing like a local in London

I recently moved to London from sunny Los Angeles. As I get settled into my new life here, I need to invest in a warmer wardrobe. Hello London fog, wind, and rain! Before I make my purchases I’ve been doing some research, observing the style of locals on the streets.

There are certain items that I spot over and over. Faux fur coats and Wellington Boots have been enduring staples for years. But there are other items that are certainly à la mode and appear to be must-haves if I’m going to pass as a native.

Here are four 2016 trends I frequently spot on the streets of London and where to get your own when visiting the city.

On their heads

It is all about the bobble hat—a beanie with a pom-pom sown to the tip. I see them in all colors, patterns, and hat-to-pom-pom combinations. It is impossible to walk a block or two without seeing a woman, man, or child wearing one. Men tend to choose the monochrome options. I saw one adorable girl wearing hers in neon pink.

To purchase your own bobble hat is not hard. In almost any part of town that there are street vendors selling clothes—from Notting Hill to Brick Lane to Broadway Market—you’ll find multiple stalls hawking these beauties. The ones in the picture in the gallery are from Portobello Road.

On their backs

Backpacks are having their heyday in London. Here, they are also referred to as rucksacks. And I see them on the street worn by people of all ages—often with vibrant colors and patterns or made from leather for a more dressed up look. Some are as small as a clutch and others are large enough to be a book bag.

You will have the most luck snagging yourself a stylish rucksack at one of the local department stores like Harvey Nichols or Selfridges. My favorite brand for a pattern print backpack are the Mi Pac’s found at stores around town including at John Lewis.

Around their necks

Scarves are always “in” when the weather is chilly. But this year it seems that a particular type of scarf steals the show: large, soft scarves with a wide plaid pattern for a pop of color. They come in all different shades. They can be worn as a scarf wrapped around the neck or draped over the shoulders mimicking a poncho.

Just like the hats, these can be found in outdoor markets, citywide. The ones in the picture are from the stalls in the covered Spitalfields complex in East London.

Viewfinder Tip: Shopping in London can be a shock to the wallet, so picking up local style in the many open-air markets or vintage stores will help you save.

Under their belts

Jeans with holes in them are back in style—big time. Some just have slits at the knees, others are holed up royally. Both men and women are getting into the ripped jeans trend. And I see plenty of women pair their ripped skinny jeans or boyfriend jeans with pumps and other heels—transforming the grunge look into something quite sexy.

To find yourself a pair of killer ripped jeans in London, head to vintage stores around town like Beyond Retro in Dalston or Rokit on Brick Lane.

I hope these tips were helpful as you get ready for your London adventure. Make sure to bring along those holey jeans, and leave space in your suitcase for all the wonderful finds. Now that I’ve done my research I am ready to buy some of this local style for myself.

What city inspires you for its fashion?

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Travel with Kate

Kate Thomas is the host and producer of the web-series Travel with Kate, a show that follows her around the world connecting with passionate locals. She is a cultural travel journalist finding out what's trending in popular destinations. And whether she’s leading you to the best local foodie finds, showing off exciting, lesser-known attractions, or revealing the scoop on local etiquette – she’s got your insider perspective. Kate has been featured as a travel expert on Afar.com, Huffpost Live, and AOL, and as an on-camera journalist for TripAdvisor.

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