Shopping Showdown - Edinburgh
Glasgow vs Edinburgh
Scotland’s two largest cities are separated by a whole lot more than an unreliable train service. The List’s resident shopping addicts try and put their fingers on what makes each city’s style distinct
Diana Kiernander considers the mix of the traditional and cutting edge that inspires Edinburgh’s dedicated followers of fashion
Edinburgh style should be easy to define. There’s an air of near-perfect designer minimalism among the smart West End city sorts, while art students get their fashion kicks from fragile vintage finery and secondhand pearls. The air of pared-down glamour and understated elegance extends to elderly eccentrics and genteel Morningside ladies in tweed and moneyed, honey-blonde students in threadbare pastel pashminas. It’s as though the castle and the cobbled streets have cast a rich shadow of tradition over our style sense.
Yet, jarringly, in the middle of all this dreamy sophistication, you’re just as likely to see a punked-up emo kid wearing a purple tutu with a flash of ripped fishnet stockings.
Cast your eye across the city and more fashion deviants can be found. Ten years ago, the first Vegas! showgirl batted a false eyelash in the capital, and thanks to the influence of international acts like Missy Malone and Leyla Rose, burlesque not only thrives but has influenced trends across town.
Young Edinburgh women are currently enjoying a serious style flirtation with bondage ace Bettie Page, snipping their fringes into short, severe shape and squeezing their figures into gothic corsets. It’s not unusual to see someone sporting a vintage velvet and net fascinator (that’s an old fashioned, granny-style funeral hat to you and me) on a dull Tuesday in Leith.
While this new, fetishised and gothic style tribe exerts a certain hold on the city these days, one of Edinburgh’s more traditional fashions is also enjoying a resurgence. Yup, we’re talking about the tweed bunnet, which might go in and out of fashion on the London catwalk, but has garnered a certain notoriety among Edinburgh ‘it’ boys, the well-heeled clubbing types who sport the venerable garment with a T-shirt and skinny blazer.
As a city steeped in history, Edinburgh has also enjoyed the longest love affair with some of fashion’s most enduring items. New Town ladies in particular still stamp the streets in Ugg boots, shawls, fringed suede bags, and of course, the beloved pashmina. Clearly, when we Edinburghers discover looks we like, we don’t feel the need to discard them the second something shinier comes along. Edinburgh clubbers still prefer hip hop and drum & bass to edgy electro, and this is reflected in the sheer breadth of denim they like to feel around their legs. We’re wary of the West Coast passion for the tight trouser over here, preferring massive skater jeans, graphic tees and trashed trainers.
It’s the sort of fashion that doesn’t matter too much if it falters in our high winds – big overblown messy hair will always be in, more out of necessity than cultivation. Our vintage shops proffer softer styles, our mummies are indeed yummy, and despite the goth/burlesque tribalism, this is a city that positively encourages personal eccentricity over uniformity.