There’s also much better vintage available here than in Berlin. I found a hippie coat at a great vintage store in Bath that would have been five times the price in Berlin. And the charity shops! God, I’ve missed them. I love searching for vintage Jaeger blazers and Eighties banker-style pinstripe shirts from Savile Row to wear oversized, with shorts in the summer.
Although, will there be a summer? After basking in the reliably hot Berlin summers for the last few years, I am concerned if I’ll know how to dress. I think Brits start wearing summer trends based on a date in the calendar, rather than how hot it is outside, because if we didn’t we’d wear the same thing all year round. ‘Summer dressing’ is a mindset, not a weather-based necessity here.
With fresh eyes, I can see how fabulously camp a lot of British fashion is. The references are pure fantasy. Think of Molly Goddard, whose collections look like she’s raided a child’s dressing-up box every season, or Simone Rocha’s gothic wedding cake of a collaboration with H&M. For footwear, I have invested heavily in MIISTA. I know they are not new, but they are so ‘London’, they really couldn’t come from anywhere but the East End. Whenever I wear the platform boots from them, I feel like David Bowie. My praktische Birkenstocks and trainers have barely seen the light of day.
And yes, I do feel like an American teen discovering ‘English style’ for the first time on Pinterest, pinning pics of Alexa and Sienna at Glastonbury next to afternoon teas. That doesn’t change the fact that every single day I’m inspired by a stranger’s outfit, whether in Morrisons or on the school run. I rarely had that in Germany. Brits really do know how to work a ‘look’, even if you may not agree with it. I find myself thinking “Good for you!” when I spot a pack of contoured teens, with bare legs and ASOS PVC dresses in the snow. And how chic are the grannies in tweed?
From the aged punks, to the guards outside Buckingham palace, with my new austere German-informed point of view, I can see that Brits are all utterly camp and a bit bonkers. And my people, the fashion crowd, wear all the trends, all at once: scalloped ruffles! Pastel tailoring! Raffia! Always with a joyful flash of red lipstick. When life is this tough, why can’t fashion be fun? I am here for all of it.
Jessica Hannan is the founder and director of APOTHEKE Perfume
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