A lot of people like to joke that the British have a “stiff upper lip” because they take themselves too seriously. But that is simply untrue. Especially when it comes to fashion, the British are having way more fun than you would think. Fashion in the U.K. is defined by fun patterns, bright colors, and heritage brands. Here are five quintessential British labels we love.
Burberry is probably older than your great grandfather. It was founded in 1856 by a then sixteen-year-old Thomas Burberry. In 1920, the iconic Burberry check plaid was first used as a lining for the label’s famous trench coats. It has remained a signature of the brand ever since.
The Burberry Trench Coat was invented for the First World War, hence the trench. But you don’t need to fight the enemy to look chic, just the rain and cold. Today the ubiquitous outerwear is available in a variety of colors and materials. You can never go wrong with the classic Sandringham style. Or if you prefer something a little more up to the minute, check out the Double Breasted Cotton Trench. Yes, double-breasted jackets are back!
You can’t mention Burberry without discussing its scarves. In addition to the traditional tan plaid, Burberry has a huge selection of these accessories in so many colors and styles. With the handy Scarf Bar on the Burberry website, you can choose from virtually every option available and make it your own with a monogram.
2. Paul Smith
Paul Smith opened his first shop in Nottingham in 1970, and six years later, he launched his first collection. Smith calls his brand “Uniquely British. We mix up one-off antiques with high quality tailoring: the chair you sit on when you buy a suit is for sale and we can wrap the suit and have the chair waiting for you when you get home.” It’s a unique approach to style.
This season, Smith offers a casual, yet refined zip up alpaca cardigan. It’s a beautiful knit that would look good on any man. For something outside the box, Smith’s Blurred Polka print shirt is cheerful and easily modernizes a classic suit.
Topman isn’t haute couture, it’s high street and one of Brittan’s best exports. An offshoot of the woman’s store Topshop, it offers everything from suits to sweatpants. With more than 300 locations, over 100 of which are international, it’s easy to find that Topman look no matter where you are on the globe.
4. Thomas Pink
Founded in 1984, Thomas Pink was inspired by the work of Mr. Pink, a tailor who designed and created impeccable British shirting.
Shirts are still the brand’s hero product. It’s easy to see why. This Aris Check Classic Fit Button Cuff Shirt is attractive, crisp, and machine washable. If that’s a little formal for your taste, a more casual choice is the Finlay Check Slim Fit Button Cuff Shirt. Thomas Pink knows how to make causal clothing look way more sophisticated.
5. Ben Sherman
Ben Sherman launched his first collection in 1963. Known for his shirting and use of bright colors, it’s surprising to discover the founder of the brand originally used American fabrics, so he could make the highest quality shirts possible. Attracted to vibrant colors, Sherman defied trends and carved out a niche for himself.
Color is still a hallmark of the brand. Take this orange lambs wool cable knit sweater (or as they call it across the pond, jumper), for example. This olive herringbone blazer is another way that Sherman uses fun colors on classic styles.