The second of our City of Style Guides takes us across the Irish Sea to the Scottish Capital, Edinburgh. Famed for its imposing Castle, Fringe Comedy festival, tartan and lousy weather, I took the arduous train journey myself, finding that this city has much more to offer.
I immediately found that Edinburgh can occasionally have sunny weather, and so I explored the capital at its best. What can immediately be noticed is that Edinburgh – unlike any city I have been in or know of – is built on a mountain, in a mountain, surrounded by mountains. I was surprised when I first saw Edinburgh’s most famous mountain, Arthur’s Seat, from an inner city pavement between two buildings, close enough to see people at its peak, overlooking the city.
It’s only when you are walking the steady path up Arthur’s Seat that you can see how much country is around Edinburgh. The sea doesn’t look far to the north from the view at Arthur’s Seat and neither does the rolling hills to the south, and in the centre is busy Edinburgh. It’s wonderful to have the option of venturing to the country, but first there’s so much to do in the city itself.
Although you decide to go further into the city, the hills follow you in. Similar to Paris, Edinburgh’s streets are often sloping downward gradually or posing a tough, upward challenge. The streets are mostly a wonderful cobble and help create Edinburgh’s distinctive, old look. Unaffected by the bombing of WW2, Edinburgh is a mixture of spires and grand buildings, a real feast for the eyes.
Edinburgh is a city of layers. I got caught out many times looking at a map and finding that my destination is on the bridge above me. Once you discover the city some more, the passage ways from one level to another will become apparent – making it easier to get about. However, expect some tough walking if you want to see the whole city.
What to wear to make your trip easier
This could create some sartorial problems, asking for hardy footwear doesn’t always mean looking one’s best. Three key styles are available this year though in order to see you through such situations. The ever present and timeless Chelsea boot, the on trend fashion hiking boot, and finally, the sartorial pick of the bunch – the brogue boot. Hopefully all these below will go some way to tick both the hardy and fashionable boxes:
For any shopping needs, Edinburgh’s main street, Princes Street, is the port of call. Nicely central, Princes Street has the big high street names of Urban Outfitters, River Island and Topman along with Edinburgh’s answer to Selfridges and Harrods – Jenners. Now owned by The House of Fraser, the big, grand building stocks big fashion and cosmetic names in a more comfortable environment than that of London’s Harrods.
Some Must Do’s in Edinburgh
Before you go – The Illusionist
French lord of the movies, Jacques Tati takes to Edinburgh in wonderful form in his film, The Illusionist. A charming animated film, Edinburgh is brought to artistic life. The characters are dressed very nicely too.
Comedy and Drama Lovers – The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Dating back to 1947, The Edinburgh Fringe is enjoyed for three weeks every August where it takes over every aspect of the city. A festival of comedy and drama, there are hundreds of shows happening all over the city – all day – ranging from free shows to the big names of comedy. The Fringe is a celebration and elevation of Edinburgh, bringing the best from its every corner. I found myself watching a comedy duo upstairs in a nightclub and a drama about the Great Storm of 1987 in a church!
Music Lovers – Avalanche Records, Grassmarket
Nestled into Grassmarket, an area of wonderful independent stores, Avalanche Records have an excellent store for all music lovers. Selling CDs, records and posters, the selection is massive but organised excellently to ensure some wonderful finds. Especially worth note for selling records by contemporary artists.
What to wear to make your trip easier
I visited Edinburgh at the height of the Fringe and was granted glorious sunshine for taking the 7 hour train journey challenge – as such, I saw Edinburgh at its best. However, even those who haven’t visited the city know of the reliability of its heavy rainfall. Be a prepared tourist and invest in some FashionBeans approved rain defence.
This is where the trench coat can really make your day. Lightweight but offering great weather protection, the trench coat is perfect for staying dry from both the elements and any unwanted sweat that could arise from wearing a bigger coat.
Autumn/Winter Mini Trend: Tartan & Plaid
Due to be covered in depth on FashionBeans in the coming weeks, it would be inappropriate to not mention tartan and plaid whilst discussing a Scottish style destination. Tartan and plaid was seen all over the catwalks during the autumn/winter 2011 previews, and it looks set to make a mark on the high street as well this season. We are not talking about traditional Scottish kilts here, but using it as an injection of pattern into your outfits – showing some individuality, and in some cases, pride for your home country.
Fitting neatly into the heritage trend, tartan and plaid give off an outdoors aesthetic which will suit being layered underneath or alongside tweed, cord and earth tones. Pick a vibrant piece of tartan knitwear or even jacket for those wishing to make a statement, whilst others looking for subtlety can opt for an easy to wear plaid shirt or simple tartan/plaid detailing on elbow patches, collar linings and the like.
Edinburgh is a place that makes you feel stylish. It offers something to everyone from the reserved art lover to the boisterous partygoer. It’s the sort of city that will offer a party the art lover will love and art to the everyday partygoer. As you discover Edinburgh you can discover new loves for yourself. I hope you enjoyed the article, I hope you enjoy Edinburgh.
Let us know in the comments below what you think of Edinburgh – what are your favourite destinations, memories and things to do?