London Street Style: Black Tights And a Short Skirt

22nd March

black tights, short skirts in London

What are the first things that come to your mind when you think of London street style? I have to admit that I instantly think of plaid, double-breasted beige trench coats, and wellington boots. During my stay there last week, I saw some of that. (Well actually, I didn’t see a single pair of wellingtons and commonly see them instead in New York!)

But as I discovered four years ago on a similar trip, women in London are into black tights. And short skirts.

Even though I know London to be a fashion capital, I didn’t expect last week to see the same street style surrounding last month’s Fashion Week. People go all out for those shows – it isn’t your typical scene. Okay, I did see metallic loafers – quite a few – but those were the only identified “street style trends” I seemed to catch. And I went to Harrods, Bond Street, King’s Road, and Shorditch – all known for being fashionable, trendy areas of the city.

But the tights!

black tights, short skirts in London

Smithfield, London

Black Tights

I saw them everywhere! And they were almost always black. It is striking to see them against the urban landscape, often consisting of light grey concrete and stone.

Smithfield, London

I have a suspicion that most women in London each have a drawer full of black tights. I find it astonishing that so many women wear tights this time of year, often with just booties or flats, and a short hemline; both times I’ve visited London around St. Patrick’s Day, it was bitterly cold. Temperatures were in the mid-30s to 40s F (3-8°C).

black tights in London

When the wind kicked up, so many of my photos were ruined, because my subjects would have grimaces on their faces. (I have a policy of only depicting identifiable people in an attractive manner.)

black tights in London

Short Skirts

I had to wonder: why the short skirts? My ex pat cousin Liz who lives in London filled me in: it seems that mini skirts became super popular in Chelsea in the 60s. The designer Mary Quant introduced shorter hems in her designs after noticing that women walking along King’s Road were wearing them (over colored tights).

King's Road, London

King’s Road, Chelsea, London

Since black tights are so ubiquitous, they almost seem to be considered as a neutral – or wild card, and women often combine them with shoes of a different color. In fact, sometimes they are the only black piece of an outfit. I find it especially unusual – as an outsider – to see black tights with lighter-colored shoes. But it often works quite nicely!

black tights in London

I love how the combination of a shorter skirt and black tights is flirtatious without appearing the slightest bit trashy.

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The look is fun and witty, even if it isn’t the most weather-appropriate.

black tights in London

I am constantly coming across articles on how to dress like a French woman. Well, after observing London street style, I am inspired to dress like a Londoner once in a while – especially since Seattle’s temperatures are about 10 degrees above that of London last week.

Only I think I’ll leave the black tights with lighter shoes to those with more practice. Might you give it a try?

black tights short skirt in London

xo, janea


14 responses to “London Street Style: Black Tights And a Short Skirt”

  1. David says:

    thanks a lot, though, our skirts are shorter!

  2. Trang Do says:

    Great looks! Love all these photos!
    Love from {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

  3. Interestingly, my past business partner Katy’s daughter-in-law is a Londoner. I haven’t seen her for 5 or 6 years, but she wore black tights with cute little mini skirts, even in warmer weather. She has a gorgeous body, so she wasn’t needing to hide anything. I always thought she looked amazing.

    I used to wonder why Americans didn’t seem to pull the same look off, they’d change it somehow… maybe Americans would tend to make the look too perfect and matchy matchy. I think what makes this look work, for me, is the quirk factor, something unexpected.


    • Janea says:

      Those are great observations, Melissa! ???? Thank you! I think you’re right about how we Americans often miss the mark in trying to make our outfits look too “perfect.” Janea XO

  4. The outfit I especially think of when I think of Katy’s English daughter-in-law was a short sleeved dress (maybe white) with black opaque tights and white pumps. Something we Americans have been trained to think of as a no no. It was striking and beautiful. Of course, having a delicate and perfectly proportioned body aided in the success of that outfit.

    • Janea says:

      Yes. Nice proportions help – it sounds striking! I noticed some women in London with largish, muscular legs looking awesome in black tights with short skirts. As someone conscious of her legs looking largish, I had to wonder how that worked – thanks to brightly colored skirts and low-heeled, narrow-toed or chunky-heeled shoes?

  5. Bankè says:

    Ha! It never came to my conscious mind that this was a London thing but you are so right. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, dressed up or dressed down you even in summer, Londoners do stick to their black tights.

  6. KaSonndra says:

    Hi Janea… I must already be a Londoner at heart because I love rocking this look. In fact, I have a look I’ll be using this look in today! For some reason, the look of black tights with a short dress just works for me. But then, I’m not one for following the rules, so I go with what makes me feel amazing. Thanks so much for sharing this article.



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