British girls seem to naturally possess a certain unintentional sophistication that we all can’t help but seek to emulate. Take Alexa Chung, for example. The veteran It girl’s style is unstudied, and she always looks comfortable (even on the Met Gala red carpet). On a recent visit to London, though, I couldn’t help but notice that every girl who walked down the street had a timeless yet cool air about her. I was instantly fascinated by this elusive British girl style.
To get to the bottom of what goes into the signature look of the UK-based set, we consulted an expert on the subject: Mariam Boutorabi, head of womenswear design for longtime British-girl favorite brand Boden. Boutorabi schooled us on the sartorial philosophies, wardrobe essentials, and go-to outfits of a typical British girl. I also got a sneak peek at the brand’s upcoming fall collection, and the models in colorful outerwear and comfy block-heel pumps were what you could call style-savvy English roses. Think a mix of Kate Middleton and Sienna Miller.
"I think a lot of British style is about confidence," Boutorabi mused. "A look is never overworked, and it always looks natural and real. British style can be deeply rooted in our heritage and is reinvented every season in a modern way. It’s eclectic, and we are good at mixing the old with the new."
Check out what Boutorabi cited as the secrets of British-girl style and shop pieces to help you achieve the signature look below.
Style Secret #1: A crisp white shirt is a British-girl essential for day or night.
"A great white shirt is a must-have. This can take you anywhere. Great in the day and equally great in the evening. I like a crisp white shirt worn slightly oversize. The Boden Girl Fit Shirt was designed to give this look while remaining feminine and sexy."— Mariam Boutorabi
WHO: Emma Watson
Style Secret #2: Wear heels during the day.
"Don't be afraid to wear heels in the day. They make you feel great and add confidence to an outfit. They don’t have to be dangerously high or uncomfortable."— Mariam Boutorabi
WHO: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Style Secret #3: Know you can't go wrong with a blazer and striped shirt.
"A well-cut blazer in your wardrobe is a must. It’s great teamed with a white shirt or Breton—so classic. You can't go wrong with this look." — Mariam Boutorabi
WHO: Alexa Chung
Style Secret #4: Mix masculine with feminine.
"Girl-fit jeans and a soft pretty blouse—love this combo. I think this is such a British look—mixing the more masculine with the feminine. This season my favorite is our silk pussy-bow blouse with a really washed-out denim jean." — Mariam Boutorabi
WHO: Sienna Miller
Style Secret #5: Don't shy away from bright colors.
WHO: Suki Waterhouse
Style Secret #6: Keep jewelry simple.
"A long gold necklace really lifts an outfit. If you're feeling your outfit needs that extra spark, then just add a long gold necklace. I particularly love gold against a pale gray cashmere sweater."— Mariam Boutorabi
WHO: Lily Donaldson
Style Secret #7: Throw on a leather biker jacket to toughen up an outfit.
"A good leather biker jacket is really versatile—great when you just don’t know which jacket to throw on and a brilliant counter to a pretty outfit if it needs to be toughened up a little." — Mariam Boutorabi
WHO: Cara Delevingne
Style Secret #8: Wear wide-leg trousers to look effortless and chic.
"A good wide-leg trouser—I always feel so grown-up in mine. I team them with a shirt or a polo neck. Effortlessly chic!" — Mariam Boutorabi
WHO: Victoria Beckham