Fashion Faux Pas You’ll Only Understand If You’re British

British style is world renowned for being exceptionally great. We’re the country that’s given birth to the likes of Kate Moss, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and have London fashion week to show off our amazing sense of style that has become part of our national identity.

Occasionally though, we’ve missed the mark a little when it comes to fashion trends. Some of the fashion faux pas we’ve seen in the past have left us looking a little more rogue than vogue, so we wanted to pay homage to the faux pas that every British person will recognise, cringe at, and wish never happened.

Shell Suits

Bill Wyman
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They simply don’t make them like this anymore (and thank god for it!). Back in the 80s, the shell suit had a moment that we’d all rather forget about.

Whether you were in a band, were a pro sports star, or just a normal guy walking down your local high street – a shell suit was an essential. Shiny and very fake looking, the shell suit was a fashion faux pas that everyone got behind and then regretted afterward. If you’ve ever thought about digging up your old suit to take it out for a spin, forget it. The shell suit belongs firmly in the past.

You might be surprised at the next faux pas to make the list…


Goldie Looking Chain Lead a 'Chav' March and Rally to Promote their New Single
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Don’t get us wrong, Burberry is a great brand — everyone loves it. But for some strange and unexplainable reason, in the early noughties Burberry was adopted by ‘chav culture’ as a signature pattern.

It became a pretty well-known thing that Burberry was the uniform of the chav in the UK and wearing it was not cool, which caused sales to decline. The BBC even wrote an article entitled “Burberry vs The Chavs” back in 2005 due to the brand damage that had been caused by the ‘chavs’. Luckily, Burberry brought it back and is once again a popular and well-respected brand in the UK, but it was a major faux pas for a while.

A Sun Bed Tan

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Back in the 80s and 90s fake tans from a sun bed were all the rage. It was a great look, and even in the deepest winter a tan was possible. Then people wised up and became aware of the serious damage that sun beds cause. Leathery skin? No thanks!

Nowadays, hopping on a sun bed is a major fashion faux pas, and whilst the UK doesn’t get much sunshine, the general consensus is that pale is way better than an unhealthy tan. An unnatural tan in the winter in the UK simply looks silly.

Midriff Shirts

Street Style : Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2019 : Day Nine
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Crop tops are really in right now, and look, we do get it. If you’re a pop star, model, or fitness freak then sure — a crop top might be a good look. But for the majority of the UK population, the crop top trend that is everywhere just isn’t going to work.

Instead of opting for a crop top that allows your gut to hang out, go for something a little less revealing. Also, the crop trend doesn’t work in the UK due to the temperamental weather anyway, so you’ll be doing yourself a favour when it starts chucking it down.

Matching Tracksuits

Street Style - Copenhagen - December 13, 2018
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Everyone in the UK loves a matching tracksuit, but we’re not quite sure why. Unless you’re a sports star or gym fanatic, there’s really no need for the matchy-matchy look that keeps appearing on our streets.

They started in the 80s, as a more low-key version of the shell suit. And whilst we prefer them to the hideous shell suit and do appreciate that a tracksuit is comfy, it’s a fashion faux pas that should be avoided at all costs!

Double Denim

Supafest Music Festival - Sydney
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Just don’t do it. Ever. Anyone growing up in the UK will know about our ongoing love affair with double denim. Denim is a great, chilled-out look and whilst double denim can be pulled off on the rare occasion, often it’s a major fail.

Unless you’re rocking different colour denim, or denim with silver embellishments (as above), then it’s a big no from us. The UK loves a matching look, but very rarely is it stylish. Avoid at all costs unless you’re famous.

Double Camouflage

Street Style - LFW February 2019
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Noticing a trend here? Double = dodgy. Single camo is great, but double camo is dodgy.

You’ll leave the house aiming for a kind of urban hip hop aesthetic, but realise by the end of the day that you actually look like you’re in the army. It’s a great look if you’re actually in the army, and every UK woman loves the army soldier look. But if you’re just trying to pull off double camouflage to hit the local pub or pick up some shopping from the supermarket, it’s not ideal.

Fake Uggs

Reborn Babies
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Fake Uggs were everywhere around 10 years ago. Why buy an actual pair when you can get some £5 ones from Primark?

This was the initial thought process until people started to realise that the fake ones slid inwards and make you walk with a slight limp. Not to mention the soles always, always developed holes within the first couple of weeks. They were loved by the nation until we realised that they squished on one side and looked really, really bad. Stay away from these.

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse On Your Lips

Seen Around - February 2019 - New York Fashion Week: The Shows - Day 7
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More of a beauty faux pas, but this one had to go on the list. “Dream Matte Mousse was a great product,” I hear you cry. And you’re not wrong, we loved the foundation when it was on the face.

But for some unexplainable reason, teenage girls in the 00s used to use the mousse as a LIP BALM. It still makes us shudder just thinking about it, but it’s true. Back in the day, girls used to smear this stuff on their lips to create a nude lip colour. Massive faux pas.

Tiaras On Everyone

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Just why? Tiaras were a fashion trend that didn’t ever need to happen. Unless you’re a royal, a rock star, or on your own hen do, you need to avoid these bad boys like the plague.

At the time of their popularity, lots of high street shops had them and they were presented as a kind of tongue-in-cheek accessory. We all knew that they weren’t just for fun though, and the girls who wore them actually acted like princesses (and not in a good way). Leave the tiaras to the royals, please.

Coming up: a hair trend that you want to avoid

Kitten Heel

Italy - Milan - Shoe shop in the fashion district
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The kitten heel came to the market as a stylish shoe that wouldn’t hurt your feet. What it became was a fashion faux pas that signified a total lack of awareness of the fashion world around you. Often, women’s feet would squish over the edges of these dainty little shoes, making it look like they were about to fall over at any moment.

Whilst the kitten heel might work for a petite and stylish Italian woman, it’s time to accept that they’re just not the right shoe for the average UK woman.

Cheap Hair Extensions

Hair Weaves
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Fast forward in time to the modern day and take a look around. Hair extensions have broken through to the mainstream market in recent years and if you’re British you’ll know that this fake look is not appreciated by the masses.

We’re not talking about any old extensions here, because the one that are done in a salon can look great. We’re talking about the ones that hang from your head and peel off like a second layer of hair. It’s not a good look and one that deserves to go into the fashion hall of shame.

Jack Wills Floral RaRa Skirts


These were popular with the younger generation in the late noughties who loved their teenie tiny RaRa skirts with long knee high socks. We’re still not sure why this was a trend, but there was a time when literally every 14 or 15 year old girl had one of these skirts.

They frilled outwards, leaving very little to the imagination, and sort of stretched at the waist. Great for eating lots at a family dinner, not so great for braving the harsh UK winter. No one seemed to care that they were completely impractical and the trend lived on.

Bucket Hats

2010 MTV World Stages Mexico - Press Conference
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No UK festival would be complete without a group of 20 underage boys walking around in bucket hats. This fashion faux pas is not reserved just for the younger generation though. No no, you’ll see everyone from young kids, to fully grown men and women in these little numbers during the summer months in the UK.

Whilst they divide opinion, it is generally accepted that they should be avoided. Unless of course you are a rock star performing at the festival, in which case you might just about be able to get away with it.

Patriotic tattoos

England v Belgium: Group G - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
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This faux pas has got Brexit written all over it. However, the patriotic or football team tattoo is unavoidable in the UK. Come summertime you see a lot of men who shouldn’t really have their tops off in the first place, displaying their patriotic tattoos.

We all love the UK. It’s a great place to live. But getting it tattooed on you is just a step too far. We like the idea, but the execution usually falls quite far from the mark. Sorry lads, patriotic tattoos are fashion faux pas.


Street Style: Day 5 - LFW AW16
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If you’re going to Wimbledon and want to keep your face shaded, then fair enough. But even then, could you not just wear a cap?

Visors are the fashion faux pas that you see time and time again. They’ve made a comeback due to the activewear trend that’s been sweeping the nation in recent years. The worst version of this faux pas is visors in the gym. When you’re inside there is literally no need to be wearing a visor. Take it off so you can see what you’re doing as you workout.

Shoes Without Socks

Street Style in Madrid
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This trend always rears its ugly head in the summer, when your feet are more likely to sweat and need a sock. Men of the UK listen up: you need to wear socks all year round. When you don’t it looks a little odd and we secretly assume that you just don’t wash or can’t look after yourself — both bad looks.

A little pop sock can be an option for those who really want to show off the ankle. However, the ankle grazer look is another faux pas that should be avoided. The solution? Just wear socks.

Windbreaker Jackets

Street Style - Mercedes-Benz Tbilisi Fashion Week - November 2, 2018
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We thought that we’d got rid of them when they became a fashion faux pas in the 80s, but the windbreaker jacket look is back. They are another festival favourite and to be fair to them, they will protect you from the rain if the weather turns.

However, they are a struggle to pull off and if you’re not sure if you’re pulling it off, the chances are that you’re not. Wave goodbye to the windbreaker jacket and opt for something less offensive like a blazer or denim jacket.


Burapa Bike Week 2019
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Flares are a massive no-no. Although they were quite cool a long time ago, people trying to bring them back in the UK are fighting a losing battle. They’re a major fashion faux pas that only work for die-hard hippies or people who have an overall 70s aesthetic.

It’s quite the commitment just to pull off a pair of flares. Jogging bottom flares are having a moment, which is totally fine and comfy. Wide leg trousers are equally as acceptable, but the hardcore flare needs to be left behind in favour of these variations.

Prom Dresses

BREA,CA., APRIL 26,  2011: Kayla McLaughlin (rt) and her mother Susie McLaughlin (lt)from Lake Fores
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Once you were in year 11, you knew it was time to pick out the brightest, most blingy prom dress that money could buy. If you were lucky, your parents let you choose the dress of your dreams. If you weren’t you’d have a hand-me-down from your sister or cousin who had her prom the year before.

Inevitably you end up wearing the dress once and then realising it was a major fashion faux pas. These are the ones that hurt the most — the faux pas you truly loved at the time, only to look back and think “really?!”.