What to Wear in London in MayBy Natalie Saar; Updated September 26, 2017
Don't forget your "brolly" when visiting London in May
For visitors who want to see London’s beautiful gardens, and generally get outdoors and enjoy the city, May is a perfect month to do so. From outdoor symphonies to nighttime museum visits to the FA World Cup of soccer, this month offers something for everyone. In the full swing of spring, the weather should be fairly nice. But don’t forget that it’s London, and because rain is nearly inevitable, packing for a visit has to include not just suitable outerwear, but a clothing approach that lets you adapt quickly to whatever the skies bring. That means make sure you grab your umbrella – also known to Brits as a "brolly."
Expect rain half of the time
For many months of the year, foggy London doesn’t boast the best weather, but May gives the city and its visitors a break, normally displaying fairly good weather for sightseeing. Temperatures warm to around 57 degrees F on average, and it’s unusual for the thermometer to creep below 48 degrees F, which is still warmer than the city’s highest temps during winter months. May is also one of the drier months, with an average of less than 2 inches of rain falling across half of the days in the month. So, with little fear of downpours, lots of outdoor events are held, offering tourists a lot of opportunities to see exhibits they wouldn’t be able to see at other times of the year.
Prepare to layer
The good news for London visitors is that a new wardrobe isn't required, because what works for the weather in the U.S. will likely work well there, too. Regardless of which month it is in London, it’s important to bring a jacket and layer. No one wants to get caught out in the rain, especially if the rest of that day’s events are out in nature. So, pack a lightweight jacket that is easy to layer over other lightweight clothes. Temps in the 50s aren’t particularly warm, so an outfit that utilizes layers is always a good idea. Additionally, footwear options are a necessity, so it’s easy to go from a waterproof pair of walking shoes to a pair of nice heels or dress shoes for a night out on the town. If possible, get a pair of shoes that does it all: waterproof, somewhat dressy, and comfortable to walk around in.
Stop and smell the flowers
May is a magical month for London dwellers. Schools celebrate a week-long half-term holiday at the end of the month, and throughout May there are little events that show how much the city welcomes the warmer weather. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place along with other events that offer visitors and citizens alike the chance to experience the best of London’s flora and fauna. Open-air theaters begin their summer shows, the London Symphony performs its annual free outdoor show in Trafalgar Square and the Museums at Night festival takes place, offering extended nighttime hours.
Before packing, look into all that's happening in London during May, then choose clothing according to planned activities. Even if your tourist approach is casual, you'll be glad you packed something dressy if you spot an inviting eatery while there. London restaurants can be strict with their dress code. On the other hand, if a particular restaurant is in the cards for the trip before you leave, consider calling ahead to ask about the dress code, so suitcase space isn’t wasted if a simple ensemble will do the trick.