Brit has landed in Britain

12 Jun

Hello there!

My name is Brittany Stevens. I am a journalism student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. I am 21 years old and getting ready to enter into my senior year of college. I could not make up my mind of what I wanted to study so I took the print route, but am minoring in Spanish, Women’s Studies and apparel and textiles to cover all the bases too. I am interested in pursuing fashion journalism after I graduate. I would like to work for a publication, either newspaper or magazine. Not too particular about where!

I arrived in England about one week ago to study with American InterContinental University (AIU) for the summer. Why would I pick up and leave the comfort of family and friends to come spend the summer somewhere where I have never been with no one I know? The experience! It has already been the experience of a lifetime and I’ve barely finished unpacking and moving into my flat in Islington. During my time here I will be taking two fashion courses: “Journalism for Fashion” and “Historical and Contextual Studies of Fashion,” as well as completing an internship (as long as I get the position after the interview!). I heard about AIU about three years ago. I was a freshman in college in an introductory fashion class. The representative said they had a program in fashion journalism. I was sold!

I am trying my hand at this blogging bit for the first time so we shall see how it goes (so please bear with me!). I am keeping this log for myself, but also to write down any observations I have for my fashion internship class.

First, I would like to explore why I chose London out of any other place in the world:

  • One of the world’s top fashion capitals (not that Manhattan, Kan., does not have cool fashion of its own)
  • The fashion market here is so large there are plenteous opportunities in the industry
  • A trendy, hustling, bustling, historically-rich city
  • I can speak the language (or so I thought…)
  • At AIU I have the opportunity to be taught by professors who have real-life experience
  • London Fashion Weeks
  • London College of Fashion
  • The Fashion Museum and other museums with apparel exhibits like the Victoria & Albert Museum
  • Home to top fashion mags British Vogue, Tatler and other niche publications
  • Home to national newspapers like The Sunday Times
  • A diverse environment where the world converges

So, is it everything I expected?

Having looked through the eyes of travel books and Internet sites I thought I had a feel for what the UK would be like, but there is so much I could not understand until I arrived.

How about navigating the Tube? For someone who has never ridden public transportation and is directionally challenged it can be a nightmare. Thankfully we had a tour guide to show us the ropes the first three days. After that, I felt comfortable enough to do it myself. The map of the London Underground looks like a bunch of different colored spaghetti noodles, but travelers should not be intimidated. Those who work at the stations are typically friendly. They will point you on your way. The Oyster Card was a lifesaver. Instead of having to pay each fare I purchased a monthly pass, then I do not have to fret about making it home. The Oyster Card also is good for the bus system.

It is dirtier than I am used to, but for as many people live here in such a small island space, I am impressed at how clean it is. I have only seen one mouse at the Tube thus far — pretty good! London has a distinct smell to it, somewhere in between trash, rain and fresh baked scents of pastry bread from the patisseries and international foods. You get used to it.

I expected London to be expensive and you bet your bottom dollar it is. It is a city number one. Number two about a 17 percent tax is already included on price tags and menus. It’s called the VAT. This does not include tip. It is nice though to go to the checkout counter and have no surprises like in the U.S.

These two ladies were dressed up for the festivities for HM Queen Elizabeth II's birthday. The event is called Trooping the Color.

It is super fashion forward. I love that about it. It gives me motivation and courage to dress the way I want and try new styles and outfits. I do not second guess what I put on in the morning. People don’t judge, at least if they do they don’t say anything to your face. People are bold, yet classy; fresh, but classic. Sometimes I think people walk into their closet with the lights off, grab a couple garments and voila! A trendy outfit. Some of the trends I have seen so far on the street:

  • Leopard print scarves (or really anything leopard)
  • Leather oxfords with little socks
  • Hair done in a bun on top of the head
  • The fierce straight-across bang like Lily Allen or Katy Perry has rocked lately
  • Black liquid eyeliner
  • Bright hair colors that are not natural like pink and orange
  • Hunter rainboots (a.k.a. “wellies”)
  • Twiggy’s blonde pixie cut (I guess old habits die hard)
  • Leather bomber jackets
  • The fascinator – hats like Kate Middleton wears
  • Anything from H&M (although most people won’t admit to it)
  • Stockings with patterns like lace or polka dots. In fact I have seen more panty hose here in everyday dress than I have anywhere else. The culture seems a little more traditional than the U.S., yet they see us as being more governed by the rules of decorum in dress. Even some of the female police I have seen don navy skirts instead of trousers.
  • Camden Town is full of the punk style like the style of punk rock bands the Ramones and the Sex Pistols
  • Layering (okay, I’m learning this is a survival mechanism with the bipolar weather here)
  • Bright colors, yes! Contrary to popular belief not everyone dresses in drab shades of black and gray

Mind the Fashion - Fashion looks of the Tube. This girl pairs bleached skinny jeans with nude strappy heels, crimped hair with a red bandana tied around (Rosie the Riveter style) and a gray sweatshirt. The red satchel anchors the outfit to the headband.

This is just a start, but I keep my eye out everyday. After all, the fashion glossies in the states look to the street fashion here for inspiration and I get to live in it!

The last thing I would like to comment on is the difference in language. Before, I thought that communication would be crystal clear between the locals and I, but there have been some impediments…new words for the same things on top of the unfamiliar accent. Some examples:

  • I stood at Primark and waited in the queue for an hour instead of a line.
  • I wanted to skip the 115 stairs down to the Tube platform so I took the lift instead of the elevator.
  • I got off at the wrong Tube stop instead of the subway.
  • Cheers! I am still unsure of what this means. There is no drinking involved…
  • Give me a call sometime on my mobile, not my telephone.

These are just a few of my first impressions of England. Most are good, some are not, but I am excited for what London has in store for me this summer and to share it!

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One Response to “Brit has landed in Britain”

  1. Mr WordPress May 31, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

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