It's hard to pinpoint a precise word that really defines British style. 'Eccentric' is overused and 'loud' speaks for one tribe alone, while 'rebellious' overlooks the understatedly chic crew. Whatever label you try to apply to the likes of Georgia May Jagger, Alexa Chung, and Suki Waterhouse, chances are, it won't stick. Hooray, for that! But Britain's best dressed do have a few things in common—each London It girl wears their own inimitable look with a particularly British brand of confidence. Among this best-dressed list, there's a familiar love of experimentation too.
The unpredictability of the typical British wardrobe comes from the long-established and varied repertoire of English classics. Think Harris tweed, tartan kilts, ceremonial regalia, punk staples, military garb, and public school blazers. These clothing archetypes live in the nation's style subconscious, allowing our favourite icons to seamlessly slip from one fashion mode to another. One week Kate Moss will be head-to-toe in demure silk at a chichi party, and the next, she'll be back in rock leathers, visiting her Cotswolds local. (Few can change fashion's atmosphere faster than Moss.)
With a nod towards patriotism and clothing heritage, we've rounded up 16 looks that preach some of the style habits of Blighty's best dressed. Scroll down to learn from the crème de la crème of the UK!
Monday through Sunday, the leather biker jacket is the all-time wardrobe staple of the London It girl; they are inseparable. If, by some unfortunate circumstance, she should leave the jacket behind in her flat, then it will be missed. Badly missed.
On Foxes: Vivienne Westwood Red Label dress from the A/W 15 collection.
Jourdan Dunn's outfit for the Topshop Unique S/S 16 show was a stroke of genius. Make like the model, tuck in a lightweight jumper with a leather mini; it's an effortlessly cool outfit combination for ambiguous dress codes, and it works for all hours.
On Dunn: Topshop Unique sweater and skirt from the Resort 16 collection.
Brit girls know that sexy is not always defined by a feminine dress. Supermodel-turned-actress Cara Delevingne gave us all a lesson in how to pull off the Saint Laurent A/W 15 suit with aplomb. Simply add a shirt, skinny tie, and Louboutin heels (lip ring optional). Androgyny, here we come!
Fly the flag in British labels. A mere three weeks after giving birth, Carey Mulligan wore this Alexander McQueen dress for the New York premiere of Suffragette. An understatedly patriotic choice? We think so.
On Mulligan: Alexander McQueen Resort 16 dress; Jimmy Choo Rosana Ankle Strap Pumps (£525).
It's good to cultivate a chic uniform for daily life but it's equally important to know when to abandon it and make a brave foray in a new direction; such is the unofficial mantra of rock royal Georgia May Jagger.
Stay true to your outfit's theme and colour coordinate accordingly. Suki Waterouse went on a romantic reverie to the '40s and kept all of her accessories on point; even her blow-dry had a blast-from-the-past twist to it. Impressive.
On Waterhouse: Preen by Thornton Bregazzi Chantilly Sunglasses (£150); Topshop Unique dress from the Resort 16 collection; Mark Cross bag.
GLAMOUR Fashion Director Natalie Hartley's experimental style signature sums up quintessential Brit cool. The street style pap favourite blends luxury designers (typically Martin Margiela and J.W.Anderson) with emerging labels, like Vetements and high street (Zara being her firm favourite).
Once upon a time, jeans were entirely associated with off-duty dressing, but thanks to these stylish ladies, the parameters have been pushed and denim is now acceptable at cocktail'o'clock. Thank you, Edie Campbell et al.
Edie is certainly the poster girl for blending high octane threads with a punk aesthetic; as stylishly demonstrated here at the Mademoiselle Privé party, the Vogue cover girl offset a smart Chanel jacket with customised ripped jeans and her Bowie–esque crop. Copy that.
On Campbell: Chanel Lace-Up Brogues (£430), jacket, and bag.
With an outfit success rating of 100%, off- and on-duty, Kate is the barometer for what's 'in'. At the launch of London restaurant Sexy Fish, Moss reminded us to go back to basics and reach for a classic LBD. Note: A heavy metal, luxe leather belt will keep the look from becoming too ladylike and 'vanilla'.
Alexa Chung lived up to her role as British Fashion Council Ambassador at Fashion Week; the star was a street style–photography magnet in homegrown brands such as Hillier Bartley, Shrimps, Margaret Howell and Erdem, to name but a few. One of our favourite style reminders, courtesy of Alexa? A jumper can be worn multiple ways throughout 24 hours: The star draped her Shrimps cover-up over her shoulders, pulled it on when it got chilly, slung it over her arm and then cuddled it with her bunny bag.
Fashion rules are just made to be broken—right, Susie Bubble?! In one outfit she clashes woollen textures, off-beat colours, and matte with patent leathers—all with a wry smile. Impressive.
On Lau: Christian Dior Small Be Dior Calfskin Bag.
As long-standing fashion experts, we can't predict what Daisy Lowe's next move will be on the red carpet. She likes to keep us all guessing and we like it that way. Follow suit (pardon the pun).
On Lowe: Christopher Kane Velvet-Trimmed Wool-Blend Coat (£1295).
Brit girls are not afraid of revving up an already fully loaded look with diamond trimmings and stunning makeup (cue—Lily's plum lipstick). While we concur that less is generally more, if it's past the watershed and the dress code says anything close to 'go for it', then our girls will do just that. (See what Lily and co. wore to Chanel's latest party.)
On Collins: Chanel Satin Pumps (£1005), top, and trousers.
Cressida Bonas's Topshop Unique dress didn't need any additional omph to make an impact on the FROW. Alas, there's nothing more easy-chic than letting the frock do all the talking and simply adding an of-the-moment lipstick (autumnal red, here) and a court shoe. Voila!
Vogue Fashion Features Editor, Sarah Harris, gets it spot on every time. Her secret? She bulk buys chic wardrobe staples from Céline and Margaret Howell: "My formula doesn't stray too far from jeans and a shirt, and camel and blue is about as colourful as I get," said Harris in an interview with The Coveteur. When you've mastered your look, invest in premium quality pieces and own it.
On Harris: Chanel top; Paige jeans.
The Sunday Times Style Wardrobe Mistress, Pandora Sykes, is not one to shy away from tapping into multiple trends in a single outfit: From her suede fringed bag (so very autumn '15) to the bang-on polo neck and, namely, the LFW coat du jour—the Hokus by Shrimps (it sold out within days)—her mantra is to wear all her favourite pieces at once. It's not her fault that they just so happen to be what everyone else wants too.
On Sykes: Shrimps Hokus Coat (£450) available in green.
Who is your favourite British style icon? Let us know in the comments below!