Women’s Country Clothing
The French woman has panache and a certain je ne sais quoi, the Italian woman has glamour alla moda, but the English woman, well, she has a style all of her own, classic yet instantly recognisable – and, more often than not, with an extra little twist of the unexpected.
British Style Icons
British style icons are renowned and admired the world over, from the Queen, with her impeccably practical outerwear and her bright, deceptively simple formal wear, to Alexa Chung, a young woman adept at taking a traditional English look and reinventing it with a fresh and cool modern edge.
You don’t even have to be British to become an icon of British lady style. When Madonna was married to Guy Ritchie during her “American in London (and Wiltshire)” years, she espoused traditional English country dressing, donning little tweed suits and printed tea dresses as if to the manor born. And now we have Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, who has been gradually swapping her LA Suits style and beachy ripped jeans for something altogether more grown-up and English, switching in pieces by Burberry, Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham and Marks & Spencer.
Secrets to the Stylish British Woman’s Wardrobe
The secret to the stylish English woman’s wardrobe is that it is both practical and elegant from outerwear to footwear and accessories, founded with quality staples that work beautifully together, but can also be relied upon to add an authentically classic touch to seasonal, trend-led looks.
Here are 10 key pieces that every English woman needs.
1. Invest in a Quality Trench Coat
The well-dressed British lady does not like to waste money on clothes. Sustainability for her is a way of life, not a passing fad. She seeks out quality investment pieces that will provide a lifetime of style and practicality, and top of the list is a trench coat. The Cordings trench is the perfect length, blending traditional detailing with clean contemporary lines. Whatever you wear it over, from tailoring to pretty dresses and slim jeans, it works every time.
Cream Belted Trench Coat, £285
2.The Smart and Off-Duty Tweed Jacket
The go-anywhere tweed jacket is a staple of the British woman’s day-to-day wardrobe, hardworking and durable, tirelessly teaming with both smart and off-duty outfits and epitomising stylish functionality when used as a riding jacket. As Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, has discovered, it’s best to keep it fitted if you want to show off a neat waist and make the most of your shape.
Wincanton Single Vent Jacket, £315
3. Look Chic with a Silk Printed Scarf
No one wears a headscarf quite like the Queen, who has an extensive collection of beautiful silk print scarf squares that she wears, in traditional English lady fashion, folded on the diagonal and tied under the skin with a jaunty furled bow. Timeless, utterly charming and such a chic and practical way to save your hair for later on.
Turquoise Hare Pure Silk Square Scarf, £175
4. Create a Flattering Silhouette with a Tailored Waistcoat
Stylish British dressers know the value of tailoring and are not afraid to experiment with ways of wearing, repurposing pieces for both casual, working and formal wear. On its own or paired with a shirt, the tailored waistcoat is the smart English woman’s secret style weapon. We love how Bond actress Naomie Harris gives this simple matching waistcoat and trousers look a streetwise city twist.
Wincanton Tweed Fitted Waistcoat, £169
5. Make a Statement in a Tailored Check Coat
Bold check tailored outerwear is a very British way of making a style statement without making a fuss and any length of coat will work, from long and sweeping to neat and knee-length, like the Cordings Harris Tweed coat featured here. Ideal for weekends, country and city breaks and for draping cape-style on the shoulders over your glitzy party dress.
Kendal Harris Tweed Coat, £345
6. British Weather Means Light Layering
The unpredictable nature of our British weather means that versatility has to be a key consideration when it comes to style, especially when an English woman is getting from A to B. A fairisle shawl is an elegant travelling companion, light yet substantial, and a lovely way to introduce soft colour and traditional British pattern to every outfit. Or choose a simple bold check to add a touch of drama.
Taupe Scottish Fairisle Shawl, £79
No English woman’s wardrobe is complete without an easy but immaculate printed cotton shirt – and Liberty print is a very British icon in itself. For instant English rose chic, pick a Liberty shirt with a flattering tailored cut and a striking but delicate shade and pattern to elevate and smarten everything you wear it with. A bold bright print shirt is the perfect starting point for mixing and matching pattern and colour, for that slightly quirky and eclectic British take.
8. Layer Up with The Neat Cardigan
So much more than just another essential layer piece, a fitted fine-knit cardigan, preferably in a neutral or soft pastel tone, is the English woman’s quintessential day-to-day outfit-maker. Ideally, you should be able to wear it buttoned up and solo or open and layered over a fine sweater, cotton shirt or silk blouse.
Cream Cotton Trim Cardigan, £65
9. Accessorise with The Surprisingly Capacious Handbag
As Mary Poppins knew only too well, what every well-dressed English woman really needs is a proper handbag that holds everything one might require on any given day. In a sturdy Wincanton tweed, this bucket-style zipped bag is a neat size and shape, but can easily carry all your essentials and more (although maybe not a hat stand).
Wincanton Hurdler Bag, £149
10. Finish Off with Classic Brown Brogues
Comfort is queen for the truly stylish English woman, especially when it comes to the feet. The classic brown brogue works with both formal and weekend outfits, with skirts and trousers (this spring, team with cropped wide-legs) and always looks polished and reassuringly capable. Our favourite current brogue lover is Alexa Chung, who wears them with pretty much everything.