London is full of neighbourhoods in which the streets overspill with eccentric types riding around on vintage bicycles, en route to buy some lense-free spectacles.
Meanwhile, other areas of the city offer a more old-fashioned sense of style, where the privileged roll out of bed in Prada negligees, then proceed to promenade the latest haute couture on the streets. So if you’re an aspiring fashionista, here’s where you’ll fit in…
South Kensington, SW7
STYLE: This is the place the stylish packing wads of cash in velvet overcoats hang out. You won’t find many high street catwalkfakes here. “The area has a period charm and a certain je ne sais quoi,” explains Ed Mead, director of Douglas and Gordon real estate agents. “An international glitterati following has raised the profile of the area.” You’ll need a few bucks to get the look; high fashion stores such as Chanel (chanel.com) are par for the course, and residents will promenade their new threads at the likes of young royals’ fave club Boujis (boujis.com).
AREA: Credit where it’s due, South Ken is not just full of beautifully vacuous fashionistas swanning about the place. The property is as equally stunning. “One of the reasons it feels more stylish is down to the quintessentially British white stucco houses found in the area,” reckons Mead.
TUBE: South Kensington.
STYLE: This place is buzzing with Hugh Grant lookalikes and affluent gents. But they don’t flaunt it like those in South Ken. They go for the understated-class look, and they’ll still mingle with the likes of you roughians in the local boozer. Meanwhile, there’s a small community of modern hippies here, too. They live on the nearby canals and sport the “I bought my stripy trousers in Thailand, my oversized cotton shirt in India and my necklace in Nepal” style. Pop into the local Oxfam (oxfam.org.uk) and get the look.
AREA: This happening area is jam-packed with bars, coffee shops and restaurants. Find a caravan and cocktails in Barrio North, an especially trendy bar to hang out in which oozes Latin vibes (barrionorth.com). Angel’s property is as varied as its style. Choose between barges, flat-fronted terraced townhouses and the odd council estate.
STYLE: The look here has become world famous, partly because it’s unashamedly ridiculous – locals wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you were a bloke wearing a tutu, with a parrot on your shoulder and sporting smeared cherry red lipstick. However, that’s Shoreditch’s appeal. Here the arty locals pride themselves on their kooky fashion sense, and their “I only shop in vintage shops and eat falafel” approach to life. To get the look make a beeline for Spitalfields market (spitalfields.co.uk), where you’ll find dozens of peculiar and inventive ensembles from indie designers.
AREA: Here there are plenty of tiny grubby flats filled with aspiring art and fashion students, though the occasional converted warehouse can be found. Of an evening, spot blunt-banged hipsters galore at Dragon bar (138-139 Shoreditch High Street).
TUBE: Shoreditch High Street.
Parsons Green, SW6
STYLE: This area shot up in style points when nearby Chelsea ran out of room in which to fit southwest London’s fashionable folks. “It has benefited from four to five years of Chelsea displacement, with well-heeled Brits priced out of Chelsea moving to the borough,” explains Mead.
The well-off locals brought their “refined taste” in clothes and food and it changed the landscape. “The shops, bars and restaurants are now catering to a new audience. You’ll now find champagne bars, boutiques and gastro pubs in the area,” he adds. You’ll spot plenty of young monied offspring in riding boots, who have just moved out of home, but still want to be close to Mumsie down the road in Chelsea.
Two of the area’s young followers of fashion include Katie Diment and Jo Thyne. Their boutique Katie&Jo (katieandjo.com) sells that blazer/ cashmere/ comfy-yet-elegant look familiar to the area. For a night out, quaff bubbly in Amuse Bouche (amusebouchelondon.com), then head to the faux-poncey chain bistro Côte (cote-restaurants.co.uk), which serves fashionably microscopic portions.
AREA: Many of the quiet residental roads off the high street consist of tasteful historic townhouses with beautifully intricate detailing and double bay windows.
TUBE: Parsons Green.
Sarah Green, teacher, 23
“Camden is one of the more stylish neighbourhoods that you hear about a lot. It’s notorious for its famous market. It’s a very artsy place, with lots of different looks.”
Mark McDonald, student, 22
“Spitalfields in east London is full of great style. Every time I’m there I see so many looks I want to replicate. I don’t get the same feeling when I’m in west London.”
Allison Childs, recruitment director, 36
“The Portobello area, near Notting Hill, has a lot of style. It’s also got tons of colourful buildings, making it a really cheerful and lively place to wander around of a weekend. ”
Lucy Auzie, student, 36
“Shoreditch has tons of style. Everywhere you look there are vintage shops and boutiques. You don’t find that kind of stuff everywhere in London.”
Kate Gudgeon, digital manager, 28
“Shoreditch is becoming more and more stylish. It’s a very young neighbourhood so people aren’t afraid to experiment and there’s always something going on.