I had the liberty of studying abroad in Manchester, England with my best friend (who is still thankfully my best friend after living together). Observing, not in a creepy way of course, Manchester’s street style and how people lived was a huge part of my experience. Fashion is not just about what people wear, but also how they live- how they shape themselves to interact with the world around them. It is interdisciplinary. The combination of all these differences is what makes Manchester seem like another universe.
Dressed to impress the cashier
One of the first things I noticed was that a man in Manchester City Center without a suit was a rare sight. It didn’t matter if they were a young professional or a seasoned mogul. They were always dressed to impress in and out of the office. You’d never find anyone caught dead in sweatpants and a hoodie. Needless to say, people living in Manchester take style very very seriously.
Heels for default
I was quite delighted to see so many fellow tall gals unafraid of wearing high heels. Even on a regular day, the streets were filled with all sorts of heels- chunky ankle boots, classic pumps, knee high boots, wedges ect. Not even the endless cobblestone paving can stop Manchester ladies from rocking it. However, I never quite mastered the art of not tripping every ten steps.
What’s with the coffee??
It was very jarring to learn that drip coffee I’ve taken as a given is considered an “American thing”. Every single café served espresso based drinks. It felt like a luxurious experience drinking lattés every day instead of my usual black coffee. We did manage to find regular coffee at Burger King.
The colour hair trend
Contrary to the super conservative image of England, quite a lot of people in Manchester sported bright hair. I actually noticed that more people in Manchester had colorful hair than in Toronto at that time. Colorful dyes were even more accessible there! Drugstores there had lines from L’Oreal, Schwarzkopf, and Bleach London that aren’t sold here.
Toronto has always been hectic to me. You’d blink find yourself left behind. Like you’re constantly working and rushing to the next place. Life in Manchester was about consistency. More importantly, it was about breathing. There was a set time when all students had a lunch break. We were told to treat our studies like a full time job and learned to take ownership of managing our schedules. Even when school was its busiest, there was still time to go on trips over the weekend or just lounge for hours. Walking down the street everyday, I’d look up and see ornate architecture in even the most ordinary building. Perhaps the course load there wasn’t as intense, or maybe it was the relaxation of travelling, but I never felt rushed in Manchester as I do here. It was the second city (the first was Toronto) that I fell in love with, and I’d go back in a heartbeat.