You are on page 1of 4

Lifestyle UK

21st century Britain has a very diverse population. The UK has always welcomed immigrants
and in the past fifty years numbers have dramatically increased, initially from former British
Empire countries and more recently from EU partners. Britain has also welcomed many
The biggest changes have been in cities, where shops and restaurants sell food from many
different cultures. Pupils in some London schools have more than 50 different home
Smaller towns and villages may retain a more traditional British culture. It is illegal to
discriminate against people in the UK because of their race, gender, sexuality or disability.
The UK is a very tolerant society and most people live happily side by side.
Civil partnerships are legal ceremonies which give same-sex couples similar rights
as marriage. Since civil partnerships became law in 2004, and around 8,000 couples a year
have gone through the ceremony.

In the UK you will see people wearing all kinds of clothing – from smart to casual, eccentric
to traditional.
School children usually wear a uniform until the age of 16. For older students, UK schools,
colleges and universities are typically informal environments where you can choose what to
 For classes, students tend to wear casual clothes, such as jeans, T-shirts, jumpers and
 Some courses require you to wear specialist clothing for health and safety. For
example if you are in a science laboratory, you may need to wear protective glasses and
a white lab coat. Check with your course provider what you need and if you need to
buy them yourself.
 For parties and nights out, people dress in many different styles, from casual jeans to
glamorous outfits.
 If it's a more formal evening event, such as a university ball, this might mean wearing
a dress or suit and tie. You can avoid the expense of buying formal wear by hiring it
from a local shop or outfitters. Scroll down for more advice!
 The weather in the UK is rarely extreme, but it can change quickly. In just one day,
you might have warm sunshine, rain and cold wind. Wear several layers so you can put
them on or take them off as the weather changes, and always carry an umbrella. Read
more about dressing for the UK's weather below.
 The UK is a multicultural place and it is common for people to wear clothing
associated with theirculture and religion, for example a head scarf, kippah, turban,
sari or long skirt. In major towns and cities you will find specialist shops selling
clothing from around the world, particularly Asian and Middle Eastern clothing.
Most UK towns and cities have a large range of shops selling clothes to suit all styles and
budgets. As well as high-street shops, there are plenty of second-hand and vintage shops.
These are perfect for bargain-hunting and are often found in student areas. Read our top tips
in the Guide to second-hand shopping.
Many clothes shops offer student discounts with a valid National Union of Students (NUS)
card orInternational Student Identity card.

Dressing for the weather

You might have heard the weather in the UK is unpredictable, so it's not easy to know what
clothes to pack. Read Weather and seasons for an idea – the temperature can range from
below 0° Celsius (32° Fahrenheit) in winter to 30°C (86° Fahrenheit) in a heatwave!
We recommend checking online just before you leave, to find out what the weather is like
where you will be studying – rural areas are likely to be colder than cities, for example, and
the north is generally a little colder than the south.

Manchester Christmas market ©Rii Schroer

If you're moving to the UK in autumn (September, October and November), bear in mind it is
going to get colder. This is when chilly winds start closing in, and by December, there might
be snow falling in some parts of the UK.
Our top tip? Layering – make sure you have a few short- and long-sleeved T-shirts, jumpers
and a coat, so you can put them together in different ways. This means you’ll get more outfits
out of fewer items – saving valuable luggage space! – plus you can wear as many layers as
you need to keep warm. You'll notice many students shed layers as they step into a warm
lecture hall from the cold outside.

What about style?

The good news is, you’ll see all kinds of fashion at UK schools, colleges and universities, and
almost anything goes. Younger students might have a school uniform, but older students
usually dress casually during the day – jeans and T-shirts are fine – and more smartly if
you’re going out in the evening. Very few student bars and pubs have a dress code.
Worried about looking good while keeping warm? For more ideas, we took to the streets of
Manchester for style tips from some current students! Check out the photos here.

Essential items of clothing

It’s important to wear what you feel comfortable in, but you'll probably find that most
students in the UK have these key items in their wardrobes:
 Winter coat – choose one that will keep you warm and dry in all weather, although you
can also bring a separate, lighter raincoat for those spring showers. And definitely take
an umbrella!
 Gloves, a scarf and a warm hat or earmuffs.
 Trainers (sneakers), or any shoes comfortable enough for running to class if you’re late!
 Waterproof shoes such as Wellington or hiking boots, for rainy and snowy days.
Remember: rain can damage leather, so treat any leather boots, gloves and bags with a
protective waterproof spray.
 Jeans. For many college and university students, a good, comfortable pair of jeans is
like a uniform.
 Jumpers (sweaters), cardigans or hoodies. A woolly cardigan and a big thick scarf are
perfect for curling up in a corner of the library when you’re studying.
 For the girls, tights (at least 40 denier) or leggings if you’ll be wearing skirts or dresses.
And for the guys heading up north, long johns are a must. You might find it strange at
first, but when it starts to snow, you’ll be happy and warm while your less sensible
friends’ teeth are chattering.
 Clothes you don’t mind getting dirty! You might be taking part in a charity race, a
baking competition, a muddy obstacle course or a game of paintball for somebody’s
birthday – and you’ll be grateful for that old tank top and tracksuit bottoms.
 A smart shirt, blouse or dress, and smart shoes for evenings out – it’s common to wear
jeans and trainers to pubs, bars and restaurants, but you might want to dress more
elegantly once in a while!
 Once or twice a year, your institution might hold a formal event – this means a suit and
tie for men and a cocktail dress or gown for women. Don’t be afraid to ask if you’re
not sure about the dress code.
You don’t need to bring all this from home, though – most UK towns and cities have shops to
suit all styles, including second-hand shops where you can fill the gaps in your wardrobe
without blowing the budget!
When it comes to formal wear, you can save even more money by renting instead of buying.
Guys should easily be able to find a suit hire shop, and for girls, try websites like Girl Meets
Dress, where you can borrow the dress of your dreams for the night – just like Cinderella.