As London dwellers, we accept the issues presented by tube travel. The odd strike and delay, undesirable carriage partners and permanent severance from our own ideals of personal space. But lately things have been getting worse. The predicament I am referencing is of a seasonal nature.
Here we are, caught in a tricky limbo between boiling hot and freezing cold. One second we are whizzing along underground in a subterranean concrete tunnel and the next we are spat outside, left to trudge through the snow in strong winds. On March 31 British Summertime officially sprung. A time of uncertainty and apprehension, where the number of layers one bravely estimates on stumbling around the bedroom in the early morning is rarely correct.
London commuting is the travel equivalent of being dragged through a very hot hedge backwards. Freshly styled hair becomes a frizzy disaster thanks to the humidity, ironic layering of polyester granny blouses suddenly becomes the most ludicrous decision ever made in the face of tropical underground temperatures and heels are just downright dangerous what with the endless station stairs and angry crowds. And even if you have struck lucky and actually dressed correctly for these underground climes, the freak winds turn the platform into quite a hazard when sporting that pleated Chloe (esque) midi skirt that you suddenly discover has a mind of its own in strong, travel-induced winds.
So really, what hope do we Londoners have? What wardrobe essentials must we possess in order to juggle seamlessly between chilly streets and the tube’s own little micro climate with its guaranteed tropical temperatures (in fact I might holiday there).
Firstly, leave items with tag words like flimsy or flirty until the hot weather really kicks in (although anything describing itself as flirty should be left alone altogether at all times of year). For this transitional period – particularly with all this nasty snow – stick to slightly more substantial pieces, so keep the tights but maybe switch to an interesting opaque shade of navy or maroon rather than those faithful black woolies which do nothing for the legs. Over-the-knee socks worn over slightly thinner or patterned tights looks great with a baggy tunic-style dress and give a sneaky extra layer (avoid bodycon with this look or it edges into cheerleader territory).
Tailored, patterned trousers turned up to the ankle with metallic socks, a layered tee and a thin cashmere jumper or two is a chic way to manage temperature difficulties. You could even stick a sleeveless shirt under there – things are always more interesting when a collar is involved. For a coat to throw on over these multiple layers and keep you warm outside, go for a loose, mannish style in black or camel with sleeves rolled up, rather than a tighter leather jacket which will just cause undue overheating when on the tube.
Stow an emergency shirt or thin woolen garment in your handbag to throw on during times of near-freezing need. You won’t need it on the journey in, but you’ll be grateful for it when roaming the chilly streets on your lunch break.
To live in London this sartorial limbo is what we must endure. Until air conditioning is installed on the tube and a glass dome is constructed over the capital we must continue to struggle bravely on against the elements. So stay strong fellow Londoners, stay strong.
Image by Passetti courtesy of Flickr