Ready to spend a couple of weeks in Europe but still struggling with your packing list for Europe? Most of us care how we look and how others perceive us. But even if looking sharp is not your priority when you travel, blending in with the locals is always a good idea.
I hope that by the time you finish reading this post you’ll have a pretty good idea how to dress like a European. But before I tell you what to pack for Europe, there are a few things you need to know about the European dress style.
If this is your first time in Europe, there may be a few things that will surprise you and one of them is how the Europeans dress. You will notice that Europeans always seem nicely dressed and well put-together. While in North America we tend to favor comfort over style, in Europe people are way more concerned about the way they look.
While there isn’t a dress code per se, the European dress style is first about chic and then about comfort. You don’t see many Parisians wearing something ill-fitting or unflattering just because it’s comfortable!
Traditionally, clothing is much more expensive in Europe than in other parts of the world. But it’s also of very good quality. European women may not have many outfits, but what they have is of good quality and it fits nicely.
European Dress Style is All About the Fit
If you want to dress like a European woman, think chic and elegant. You don’t need to wear a cocktail dress or high heel shoes in order to be elegant. All you need is pair up your clothes in such a way that you don’t look like a hiker.
There is a great variety of clothes and shoes which can be both comfy and chic. Keep it simple. You don’t need a hole lot of cloths, but what you wear should make a statement.
How to Dress Like a European
What I need to make clear from the start is that this article discusses fashion in the major European cities like Paris, London, Venice, Rome, Amsterdam, etc. It’s easier to blend in with the locals if you travel to smaller towns, resorts, or in the countryside.
Your packing list for Europe will vary, depending on your destination. Packing for 3 days in Paris will certainly differ from packing for a few days in Zermatt. This guide will give you some guidance about the dos and don’ts of dressing in Europe that will help you avoid being labeled a tourist.
Can You Be Fashionable on a Budget?
Not everybody can afford to wear Prada, or Valentino, or some other famous fashion designer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable on a budget. It’s actually a bigger demand for low-budget fashion than it is for high end designers. As a result, most of the department stores carry very stylish clothes at very affordable prices.
If you look up any fashion magazines or online websites, you will find plenty of fashion ideas that will help you stay fashionable within your budget. It’s easy to create your own fashion style with with some simple and trendy ideas.
Packing List for Europe
Here is what you could consider for your packing list for Europe:
European Attire for Women
When traveling to Europe remember that people seeing you briefly for the first time will judge you completely by your appearance and will treat you accordingly. As a traveler, most of your personal contact will be with hotel clerks and restaurant waiters. To get a good table and good service you need to dress as if you deserve it. Finding the perfect balance between comfort and style may be difficult, but it’s not impossible.
So here is what you could wear in Europe as a woman:
• Comfortable, but nice shoes
European streets, subways and busses are very crowded, so open toe shoes or are not always a good choice. Unless it’s hot. Since we started traveling in 1989 I have walked hundreds of miles in Born, Ecco, and Clarks shoes and have always been happy with these brands.
•Dresses, skirts, dress pants, short-sleeve and long-sleeve tops
Depending on the season, you should bring some short-sleeve/long-sleeve tops, a sweater dress to wear with tights, a skirt and some dress pants. All these items are a must for your Europe packing list.
Wearing jeans is not my first choice, but if you wear them with a pair of boots, a nice top and a blazer, you’ll be just fine.
For fall or spring, a trench coat or a blazer that you can wear over your dress, or with any pair of pants.
• Scarfs and accessories
Scarfs, belts, and some costume jewelry are great accessories for your outfits. They add color and style to any outfit and they are easy to carry around. You can wear the same dress three days in a row, yet make it look like a different outfit if you wear it with a scarf, a belt, or a piece of jewelry. I have a great collection of scarfs and belts which are always part of my packing list for Europe.
• A Nice Bag (preferably not cross-body)
Bags are fine for both men and women. The best would be a shoulder, anti-theft bag that lies somewhat flat to your body, so you can lay your hand over it as need. Also, backpack-style bags work great. Not the kind that you would wear on a hiking trip, of course, but the small leather ones that you can wear both on your shoulder or on your back..
Don’t bring a messenger/cross-body bag to Europe! No one carries them there, except the American tourists.
European Attire for Men
European males are equally preoccupied with their looks as women. But as a male, the packing guides out there are pretty vague. If you want to dress like a European man think basic luxury and neat and tight clothes.
When traveling to Europe you’ll need to make a little investment into some good quality clothes. Also, make sure your clothes fit nicely and don’t sag. Europeans love their clothes to fit a little slimmer, almost tight. Therefore, if you want to look Parisian, don’t wear baggy clothes!
Another trick to make you look European is to layer up: shirt, sweater and coat on top. Men in Europe love to wear layers, especially during the colder seasons.
• Pick slacks over jeans and shirts over T-hirst
Leave the jeans and T-shirts for your travels to Las Vegas and pack a couple of pairs of slacks, a few casual shirts and a nice blazer when you travel to Europe. Most importantly, reconsider the synthetics, but keep leather, cashmere, denim, cotton and linen.
If you travel during the cold season, a good quality coat (which may be a bit pricier), a cashmere turtleneck and a scarf will really give you an edge.
• Choose comfortable, but dress shoes
It’s much easier for men to find comfortable shoes, since they are not after high heels. Grab some leather pointed shoes in neutral colors, like blacks and browns. Make sure they are always polished and clean. It’s important to choose comfortable shoes, with thicker rubber sole, that can absorb shock. In Europe you’ll most likely do a lot of walking and thin soles will give you a lot of pain.
What You Should NOT Wear in Europe
I get asked pretty often if the Europeans wear shorts, or jeans, or tennis shoes. The answer is “yes,” they do wear shorts and tennis shoes when they go hiking, or to the beach. Or when they play tennis. But not in the city. That doesn’t mean that you won’t see any person in Europe wearing sneakers or ripped jeans. There are many European youngsters who “slobber” over looking like a Gringo and dress sloppy, but that doesn’t define Europe.
So, before I tell you what to pack for Europe, here is a list of clothes that you shouldn’t wear in a big European city:
• Shorts and sweat pants
Shorts and sweat pants will be frowned upon in most European cities, therefore you shouldn’t include them in your packing list. Unless you are planning to go hiking in the mountains, or go to the beach, short snd sweat pants are a no-no in most European cities. Aside from looking touristy, you are likely to be denied admission to many venues (concert halls, churches, museums) or fine restaurants.
• Tennis Shoes, Converse and Flip-Flops
Flip-flops and sneakers may be popular among the youngsters in many countries. In fact, they are so popular in California that most young people wear them everywhere. But nothing screams ‘tourist’ like bouncing down the streets of Europe in Flip-flops, converse, or tennis shoes!
• Flashy colors and clothing embellished with flags or chauvinistic slogans
Patriotic or flashy logos may work in the USA, but they are considered ostentatious and perceived as a lack of class in Europe. Americans love to wear strong colors and patterns, but Europeans like subtle colors. Wearing bright, flashy colors will signal that you are a tourist from a mile away, therefore you should stay away from them.
• Cameras around your neck
We all love to take home digital memories from our travels, but wearing your camera around your neck wherever you go is bad taste. Besides, broadcasting to everyone that you are a tourist may increase your risk of attracting thieves.
It’s best to keep your camera in a bag and take it out only when you are planning to use it.
READ NEXT: Best Time to Travel to Europe
Where to buy good quality clothes in Europe
If you live in a small town where it’s difficult to find fancy clothes, don’t panic. You can always do some shopping while visiting Europe. Don’t get set back by the huge prices you see displayed in the windows.
Get inside and look through the inventory. You’ll be surprised how many great deals you can find, even in the most sophisticated stores. In fact, I strongly encourage you to buy some good quality clothing from Europe. You’ll most likely turn some heads when you wear them back home.
I hope my post answered some of your questions about European fashion. So how does one dress like a European? By simply looking casual elegant
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Very interesting and informative article. I’m getting ready for a trip to Europe and this is really helpful.
You might show styles for fat old American males.
Not all of us are emaciated 20-something models.
On the other hand, cargo shorts are always in style. In 2019, we were having lunch in a mid-scale restaurant in Bologna and noticed that the table of 6 Italian males were all wearing cargo shorts.
Converse is definitely popular in Europe, BUT make sure they are in conversative colors (white, black) and kept CLEAN. I almost never see a worn-out or dirty pair, they don’t add character, just sloppiness.
We are taking a river cruise and I don’t like the look of sneakers and shorts AT ALL, not ever, not even in the US. I wear sneakers while exercising and with leggings occasionally.
But—I also think Borns, Clark’s, and those other awful “comfort” sandals look no better. They are hideous and unflattering period.
Soooo…my question is, what do EUROPEANS wear when they have many days of walking tours? Which version of ugly do you suggest I wear? I’m 42 and thin and fit, and those school marm you suggested make me want to cry. But sneakers, ugh! Please help. 🙂
I know what you are saying, Susan. I’m also trying to compromise between feeling comfortable and looking good. Unfortunately we have very few good choices here, in the US, which is why I buy my shoes in Europe. I like Born, Clark and Ecco, that sometimes have good looking and comfortable shoes. You may like these Ecco sandals: https://amzn.to/3aWksQZ; and these: https://amzn.to/3opvwct. I have them in beige and taupe and they look really good on foot (much better than in the picture). Amazon has easy returns, if you don’t like them. Ecco shoes are extremely comfortable (this is a European brand). You may also like these: https://amzn.to/3v3a9Bm. Hope this helps.
Adidas, Veja, Tretorn. A gum sole is very in right now. Allbirds are my favorite because they are extremely comfortable. Sandals in a city are gross and you will hate it, trust me.
I walk the a lot in sandals in summer and didn’t feel it’s “gross,” but I guess that depends where you walk. I usually avoid filthy neighborhoods, lol!
People don’t remember what you were wearing after you die, but they remember how you treated them.
Most people will choose to spend their money on experiences (Trip to Europe) over fashion and I will always support that.
I think you can look respectful and mindful on a budget. I can buy a cheap scarf at Target if that’s what it takes and move my Travelon black pickpocket/slash-proof purse strap to my shoulder instead of across my body because you’re telling me fashion should take priority over getting my passport and credit card stolen??
My husband is going to wear his favorite dark blue Asics and Levi’s no matter what fashion shoe or pants I try and put him in. (He’s paying for the trip) and I’m okay with that because I’m just grateful he worked hard to help pay for the experience.
Dressing like a European doesn’t mean spending a fortune on clothing, Michelle. You can have good taste and dress fashionably even from Target. For some people blending with the locals and not looking like a tourist is important, but if for you it isn’t, then just don’t do it.
I live in Italy near Florence and deffinately none of the Amazon clorhes for men suggested here are apropriate, the items are infact stereorypes of what an Italian man wears. For casual wear for men a smart, newish T shirt is fine or a poloshirt in a classic colour. Trainers are fine for the day or shoes from makes like clarks or any smart casual shoe. European make jeans are fine.
A nornal classic shirt is fine for the evening with chino trousers with your smart casual shoes is fine for any restaurant a part from extremely upmarket restaurants. This look is fine also for the theatre.
Women can wear any pretty or classic style dresses, midi or maxi. Jeans, chinos, classic or pretty blouses or t shirts. If you are going to atay in a town shorts areonly for teenagers. A good idea is to look at the websites of Zara, John Lewis, La Rinascente, for the right style of clothing then buy any equivalent brand.
Try to pay attention to detail, coordinating colours for both men and women. Women should wear dress jewellery to bring their outfit together. Elegant crossbosy bags are in rhis year. No bum bags and flip flops/ thongs are only for the seaside. Smart sandals from fashion brands are fine for women but not men. Young people usually wear asics, puma, convers e etc trainers. . They must be clean and new looking. Older people can wear puma, clarks, birkenstock, eco etc but not usually convers..
However the botrom line is wear what you like. Nobody will be scandalised😀😀
First of all thank you for taking time to comment. I really appreciate that. As a European myself, I am well aware that the dressing style in Europe is changing lately, but the basic principles are still the same. My article is not intended to give advice about the latest fashion, but rather some general ideas about how people dress in Europe. You can always wear what you like in Europe, as long as you dress in a stylish manner.
Damn straight! Nobody we pass on the street during our travels gives our fashion choices more than a fleeting thought. Be comfortable, be safe. Screw anyone that finds your fashion choices distasteful. That’s their problem, not mine. Wear what makes you feel good and enjoy your time traveling. Don’t waste time stressing about what everyone will think of you.
Nothing wrong with dressing any way you want, Jane. What puzzles me is why are you reading this post if you don’t care to dress like a European?
I was in Europe in the ’60’s and have no desire to go back. Dress codes in public were oppressive, women wore dresses or skirts, never pants or shorts. Now people are held back from flying home if they test for covid and have to stay in a motel 14 days instead of flying home with spouse or friends. Unless people are in social classes (wealthier class) people don’t care in the U.S. about fashion if clothes are clean and basic incl joggers or nike’s worn most anywhere. Ripped jeans and revealing ill fitting clothing is a turn off no matter where your at.
Black or white low converse are worn regularly here, but as the casual twist to an outfit. Those and vans are much loved because they are cobblestone and hill friendly. Smooth leather soles are deadly. No one looks good in a cast.
I am a Brit born and bred. Jeans are perfectly acceptable for daytime casual wear here but never ever wear double denim. An absolute no-no.
Good luck with those pointy heels on our Belgian cobblestone. 🙂 I look forward to watching that.
I was wondering how people can even walk around with heels all day in the city. I’ll be in Europe soon walking constantly and I’m not sacrificing my comfort over a fashionable and uncomfortable shoe.
Oh, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort over fashionable. You can wear nice, lower heel shoes.
I know this beautiful article/post is to help people blend in and not look like a tourist when visiting other countries, in this case specifically European countries, but besides the “not looking like a tourist” factor and purpose, here’s a huge point: RESPECT. It’s all about showing respect for the places and societies you visit or travel to. We are not all the same. We all different, and when you visit countries, it is not your country and it is not a Disneyworld. Countries are real life and real society. It also goes back to the classic saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. But overall, it’s about respect.
I’d agree with most of these points, but I WILL carry a cross-body messenger type bag on my upcoming European vacation. It is small and black, not “loud,” but it’s a necessity for me when spending a day walking through larges cities like Rome or Paris and needing to keep items handy, but secure. Maybe the locals can get away with a shoulder bag, but they probably aren’t carrying all the cash, credit cards, passports, and electronic devices I’ll have with me. And they aren’t going to be targeted by pickpockets the way I will once someone hears my accent and figures out I’m American. So yeah, if that makes me look like a tourist, well that is what I am after all. I’m not going out of my way to flaunt it, but some things like a cross body bag are non-negotiable for me.
I hear you, Lisa. We are all concerned about petty theft when we travel. No worries about the cross-body bag. Yea sure, the Europeans don’t wear them, but if that makes you feel safer do it.
I am from Europe and I can assure you that when we, Europeans , travel for vacation in Europe and are sightseeing, we wear crossed body bags to prevent being a target while looking at building, or walking in a museum! The rest of the advice is on point.
Lisa, i was going to return my anti theft Crossbody bag until I read your response. I actually marked off to return my Crossbody bag on the notes I take researching my three week trip to Western Europe in the shoulder season, September ’22.
Now I can relax a little, along with my pick pocket proof pants.
I want to look like I have moey but I’m prepared at the dame time. Thanks for you excellent feedback. Besides that I thought the article was spot on.
This article is definitely accurate in the sophisticated clothing but I think it is some what outdated in the footwear and shorts. I was recently in London and Paris and while people wore nice clothing a lot of locals wore shorts and practically everyone was in tennis shoes. Wearing Tennis shoes and shorts might mark you as a tourist in a ritzy area but not in the main part of the city.
That is valid for the young generation. Sadly, the tendency in Europe is to copy the Americans, so I’m not surprised to see they began wearing shorts and tennis shoes.
This article, while informative, is mostly a preconceived notion. A Parisian here (insert a wave). A friend forwarded a link to this article and asked whether I agree. I’m married to an american, living in the U.S. part-time, traveling for living, with family located all over Europe: Paris, London, Moscow, Prague, Oslo, Munich, Vienna. What I agree with: european men do prefer slim/tighter fit of both, tops and bottoms. Layers – yes, scarves – yes. Fit is everything. That being said, the style has relaxed IMMENSELY over the last few years. In fact, simple dresses with trainers (keds, skechers, converse) are very popular for casual outings. Even major theaters have relaxed their dress codes and i’ve seen lots and lots of locals wearing casual bottoms and slightly dressier tops for orchestra performances. I personally detest it as I am all about tailored clothing, heels and quality handbags, but comfort is taking over. The way I recognized americans without a fail is no longer by keds or skechers or crossbody handbags (the latter is now worn by just about everyone in every major city) but by plastic, unnecessary smiles. 20 years in the U.S. and it still perplexes me. In summary, european men dress more differently from their american counterparts than european vs american women. I do agree, quality over quantity is what sets us apart. And scarves 🙂
Thanks for your comment, Julie. Truly appreciated.
A spaniard here currently living and working in Dublin. I am not sure if, perhaps, this targeted to a much older audience…? I am in my late 30s and wear mostly good quality leather cross body bags (so do all my colleagues and friends here in Ireland and back in Spain. Same in all european capitals that I travel to frequently for work: London, Berlin, Paris…). I also wear jeans most of the time and some times fashion sneakers. It is true that I prefer to wear a chelsea leather boot to a pair of runners, but seems to me that that the style here is way more relaxed than what this article suggests…
Was that a plastic, unnecessary smile emoji?
This is an informative post. I did not know that I have to think much before dressing up in Europe. But I like to know about the thoughts from someone who grew up in Europe. I loved the fashion for women and really want to have a Clarks shoe soon.
Thank you for this helpful article! Hub and I are planning 2 weeks in Switzerland, Lake Como, and Provence this September, including stops in cities- Lucerne, Geneva, Nice, etc…. Planning on taking a basic, classic, wardrobe and I wanted to include a blazer. My favorite is lightweight navy wool gabardine from Ralph Lauren, with a simple crest on the lapel. Would this be considered too flashy? Thanks so much in advance for your advice!
No, that’s not too flashy. It’s just perfect. Have a safe trip.
Hello! my family is touring Europe in December. Any advice on the clothing during the winter period? Thank you!
Depending where in Europe you go, December may be very cold. It can get bitterly cold even in Rome and Paris, although you will most likely not encounter snow in these areas. I would recommend you take a good winter coat (it may be a peacoat) with you and some dark pants. Black jeans will work also. Take a few turtle necks (there may be strong winds) and a wool scarf. Don’t take a ski jacket if you want a smart, elegant look. Hope this helps.
We are going to Europe in October. I’m having a hard time finding comfort shoes for my husband that can be walked in all day but could be worn with slacks too. Is there anything you can refer? I clicked on the picture for the men’s shoe but they are not being sold on amazon.
Hi Nihi, thanks for your comment. I updated the Amazon links for men’s shoes, so all pairs I have there are available now on Amazon. All these three brands make great walking shoes for both men and women.
Super good in depth review. I have a mandatory study abroad for my degree in Bonn Germany and want to have some pretty good outfits I can wear to not feel like an outcast. I’ll look further into these!
I grew up in the US but visit Belgium for a few months every year. Clothing here is casual but elegant and not expensive! There are high-end shops but on the whole clothing is cheap here. For example, you can buy a nice, decent quality stripped basic shirt that is casual but elegant for maybe 10-25 euros.
I always feel a little inferior here. I mostly wear US brands like LL Bean and Lands’ End and that comes off more sporty than elegant. It’s kind of drab too compared to the clothing here. However, I have never been denied anything here due to my clothing, or anything else for that matter.
I think you misread my statement about “being denied access in certain places because of the way you are dressed.” In most places you won’t be denied access, it would be horrible if they did that. However, there are certain places in EUrope (mostly high end restaurants) that require a certain attire. If you show up there dressed in jeans and a t-shirt they will not let you in.
I live in Europe. I divide my time between Paris, Zagreb, and Prague although for work I’m frequently in Berlin and Bucharest also. Many of your points are spot on, but you could not be more wrong about sneakers. We wear them EVERWHERE. (Except for places like the opera and to church) The New Balance 574, for example, is a chic choice for women all over Europe. Merrill and Born?! I only see them on American travelers.
Now, the white, flashy American sneaker? That is not a fashionable choice in Europe, for sure. But cute, dark colored sneakers? You see them on all of the chic girls.
Thank you for taking time to comment on my post. I am European myself and travel to Europe every year. I am quite aware of the fact that the young generation there tends to follow the American trend and believes that wearing sneakers and ripped jeans everywhere is “cool.” However, that’s not the norm. At least not yet. It’s quite possible that in the next 30-40 years the classy European style of dressing will be replaced by a more sloppy one. For now though, people still dress nicer in Europe than in America.
We’re leaving for Bavaria in six short weeks and I am very thankful I came across your article. You’ve provided useful information for both my husband and me (thank you!). I do have a question though – I’m 52 and love wearing jeans (not ripped). I planned to bring a dark wash blue and black skinny jean, but now I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. I had planned to dress them up with nice tops, booties & a jacket. But will I look like a fool? Do older (over 50) women wear jeans? Will my husband look dumb too?
Hy Pollyanna, I’m glad you found my article of help. I actually mentioned the jeans somewhere in my post and even have a picture of a young woman wearing jeans and boots. I am actually older than you and I love wearing jeans.
Depending where you are in Europe, wearing jeans is not necessarily out of taste. Especially if you wear them with a nice pair of boots, or some dress shoes and a nice top. Besides, Munich is not exactly Paris or Milan. Germans have a little more relaxed style. Hope you’ll have a great time in Bavaria.
Thin soled shoes will not give you pain. The more “minimalist” your shoes are, the more comfortable they will be. Your feet will strengthen eventually, so you won’t need all that support and motion control. Thank me later.
I wish you were right, Nathan, but my experience proves differently. I love thin soles and delicate shoes, but unfortunately they are good just for show off, not for long walks on the European streets. If you talk to any podiatrist he will tell you the same thing: that shoes with cushion protect your feet. The pressure you put on your feet when you walk on high heels or very thin soles irritate the nerves that lead to the toes.This irritation triggers the thickening of the nerve tissue, though causing a “neuroma.” I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. After each trip to Europe I would return home and run to the podiatrist’s office for a cortisone shot in my feet. Despite his advice, the following year I would go back to my fancy thin-sole sandals. After a few years of stubbornness I ended up with neuroma surgeries on both feet.
Hi! I’ve been reading lots and lots of articles as of what to wear in Europe. I’m traveling soon to western European trips and I’ve been worried that if what I’m going to wear is frowned upon. I don’t own any long dresses or long skirts. So I was wondering if it’s okay to wear skirts then wear stockings or tights underneath it? We are visiting various religious sights, would they allow me in if I have a skirt on with tights covering my knees?
Absolutely. You can wear stockings or tights and skirts, no problem.
We are traveling abroad this year for several weeks with our kids (ages 12 and 10). Could you offer some tips for them? My daughter is VERY sporty and not accustomed to dresses or frills. Would my son be ok in nicer linen shorts? To us that’s somewhat fancy but still comfortable.
I think 10 and 12 years old are still kids, so they would probably get by with less formal clothes than adults. However, if you plan to go to fancy restaurants or attend some cultural events, they should definitely dress appropriately (more elegant). For your daughter a white pair of pants with a nice top and some ballet flats would work great. For your son, knee length linen shorts may work all right during the day time, but not in the evening.I hope this helps.
I spend so much more time packing when I go to Europe than any other destination! These are great tips that I wish more tourists, especially from the US, would pay attention to. It’s true as well that especially in Paris, no matter what I might wear, I’ll feel underdressed. Tant Pis! My motto is to dress to see and not be seen (necessarily.)
Hahaha, I hear you, Elaine!
Hello, Anda! I discovered your post researching about what to wear in Europe in the spring. Your article is very informative. Thank you! May I pls. know the brand of those brown ankle length women’s boots you showed here? I’m currently on the hunt for a stylish, comfortable footwear. Thanks much!
Thank you for your comment, Ella. Those are Pikolinos. They are extremely soft and flexible. Excellent for long walks, yet very stylish.
I was going to spend a few hundred dollars to avoid being frowned upon by judgmental strangers (the double standard of accepting any cultural wear tourists may wear to america but having to change your own culture when you travel…) but then I realized I could just be myself and not care what other people think for free. And I won’t even have to tithe because my Apparently God doesn’t invite you into his house in Europe unless he’s impressed by the material wealth you flaunt on your feet!
Spoken like a true “Merkin” Ignorance is bliss as they say.
Oh, Dolores, you need to google the definition of ‘merkin’. I think you meant ‘Murican’. A merkin is a ‘pubic wig’, very different thing entirely!
Hi, what is brand and model of first shoe you posted under women section? Thanks!
Those are Pikolinos, but I can’t see the model written anywhere. They are extremely comfortable and can be worn even in a colder season (like spring and fall) with a pair of socks.
Very useful tips! I have the same impression that clothing in Europe is more expensive than it is in the States, even when it comes to the exact same brands and sales/outlets. But on the other hand, I believe, in Europe you could find more small local boutiques (some family-owned for generations) where one might buy smth that would really last. I´ve also bought a pair of random boots in Rome once and after years of wearing them they look better than some of the high-end worldwide known brands I have. And absolutely agree that in different European countries it might be harder/easier to fit in… I lived in Berlin and that one day you wear heels – you immediately look overdressed, while every time I come to Italy I feel like I don’t have enough clothes lol
Kind regards from Spain,
Thanks for your comment, Anna. If you live in Europe, you know better how easily it is to look underdressed in some cities. Overall though, no matter where you are in Europe, people look more put together and nicely dressed than in most parts of the USA.
Awesome post! I had a quick question, do you know what kind of shoes the brown ones are (the big picture below the three smaller pictures of shoes for women)? Thanks so much!
Those I Born, Alyson. Born makes extremely comfortable yet very stylish walking shoes. I strongly recommend this brand. Also, the Clarks are excellent for travel. Thanks for commenting on my post.
I have a serious foot problem and must wear thick orthotics. They really do not fit into anything except extra depth tennis shoes. Any suggestions?
I wear orthotics too, Ann. I don’t know how thick yours are, but mine are designed according to the shoes. I even wear orthotics in my high heel shoes (the ones I wear for only 2-3 hours when I go to a special event).
Here is just a bit of my 2cents on the subject:
“Keep leather, cashmere, denim, cotton and linen, but reconsider synthetics.”
While this is quite true for Italian people, you would wondering stares in northern Europe. Synthetics are everywhere. Leather is nice, bit only when its cold – and norvegians dont freeze so easily. Thats why you can see mini skirts all years round with proper warm pants under them if needed.
There is just one point where you are perfectly right: Europeans wear shorts and flip flops only on the beach, but not in the streets. And if we see a (mostly russian) tourist in bathing suit and naked chest – preferable wet from tip to toe – in a Thai shopping mall, we are near vomiting. And speaking of Thais… in the north you will see 80% wearing flip flop on the streets, not so in Bangkok. So Marta is right in saying you can’t throw all Europeans into one box. You must differentiate a lot. We have very distinct cultures here.
My post is not an analysis of the European culture and its diversity, nor is it a generalization of the dress code in Europe. These are basic recommendations for those who travel to Europe and want to look nice and well put together. A guide for people who want to blend in rather than stand out as tourists. As someone who was born and raised in Europe and travels there every year, I’m pretty aware of the fact that many young Europeans slobber over looking like a Gringo and dress sloppy, but that doesn’t define Europe. As for your ‘2cents’, they don’t make much sense when you bring Asia into this conversation.
Thanks for your informative article. I’m kind of lost when it comes to dressing properly in a big city.
Great post! I swear by the scarf anytime I travel anywhere! They are so versatile! The struggle is real to find comfortable shoes to walk around a European city all day and also not look like a hobo though. Thanks for the great tips.
I was pretty gobsmacked to read this article. Living in Europe all I see is people wearing shorts, t shirts and jeans. Really our fashion is very similar to American fashion unless you’re in expensive hotels/eateries in Rome, Paris or Milan!
The only time I would dress as you recommend is if I was going on a night out, out for a fancy dinner or to the theatre – and almost everyone I know would agree.
Love this post so much, I love Europe and dressing up appropriately when travelling, nothing screams tourist like some t shirt and shorts with flipflops! A scarf or hat for those bad hair days are a must for me as well. I’m always looking for comfortable but stylish shoes and you have some neat options here!
Being a European and travelling in Europe quite a lot… I read this post opening my eyes really widely. Some of the comments surprised me even more 🙂
At first I thought you might be talking about big fashion capital like Paris or Milan, where I haven’t been for quite a few years, but then when you mentioned Eastern Europe (where I live) I found it really, really strange.
Come to think of it, I dress like a tourist in my own hometown, more – I can see other local people dressed like tourists.
The funny thing is that I actually quite often dress the way you recommend, but at the same time I dress the way you advise against and I can see I’m not any different from the people around me – it just depend what you do, where you work etc.
However, I’ve never been to the USA so unfortunately I cannot compare 🙂
I don’t know where in Europe you live, Monica, but I haven’t seen people in shorts and flip flops anywhere there (not even in the countryside.) From big metropolitan areas to small provincial towns, people in Europe dress nicely. That doesn’t mean that you are not going to see a pair of jeans here and there, but the overall impression you get when you travel to Europe is what I describe in my post. To have a better understanding of the comparison I’m making, you should probably come visit America.
When it is hot in summer I usually go outside Europe on my holiday so I’m not so sure about flip-flops and shorts 🙂 I would find beach flip-flops awfully uncomfortable in the city and shorts in the city are for teenage girls in my opinion 😀
Open toes, jeans and T-shirts? They’re everywhere.
But I guess you’re right, I should probably go visit the USA to understand it better 🙂
I live in Poznań (Poland) – it’s a city right in the middle between Berlin and Warsaw. But as I say, I never think that I should wear different clothes in other places – it only depends on the weather and what I’m going to do.
However, I guess tourists are excused when putting comfort over elegance even because they walk more and do different things.
Monica, how you choose to dress when you travel is up to you. If you want to dress smart and elegant, that’s considered a plus in Europe (unlike in America where nobody cares). This post was meant as a tool for those who want to look and feel good when they visit Europe.
Dear Monica, I’m from Central (in my opinion) Europe (Poland) and I think the point here is other style of jeans e.g.
We dress all those things but in other style.
We don’t dress baggy unless we meant to dress “oversize”.
Having visited Europe a number of times now, the differences in the fashion between guys from the US and guys from EU are strikingly different in many ways. I’m always a shorts guy back in the states (I’m from Texas, it’s a necessity!), but always leave them behind when traveling abroad.
There is nothing wrong with your Texan cloths, Justin. In fact I love that style, but when you travel you want to blend in, not be spotted as a tourist.
This is such a useful post! When I was first traveling in my early 20s, I used to not care about how I dress. I thought it was rather superficial. But then I landed in Tokyo for the first time —- and boy, did I feel so insecure! Even though I thought I dressed up pretty well in a jeans and a North Face jacket (cringe), I felt like such a country bumpkin amidst all the fashionable Tokyo men and women.
Good thing when I went to Europe for the first time I have already developed a bit of class. Dressing well and appropriately is not just about caring what people think — it does enhance the experience, and as you pointed out, you get good service and a good table. It also shows that you respect the culture, especially when you try to go to certain establishments like theatre.
Definitely learned a lot from this post and will keep it handy for when I’m next heading to Europe. 🙂
Thank you, Liz. I’m glad if I could bring anything new to the table.
Suze - Luxury Columnist
You make such a good point about scarves, Anda – I’m here in Andalusia at the moment and it’s quite chilly in the morning and evening, I wish I’d brought more of them!
I don’t think you can have too many scarves when you travel, Suze.
Striking a balance between comfort and elegance is a topic close to my heart. We like to be active when we travel, even if that just means walking huge distances rather than hoping in and out of taxis. Sometimes it is hard to look reasonable without risking being too hot, too cold or having aching feet. It always surprises me how casually Americans dress for dinner (not at flash restaurants but just about everywhere else) but I do find the casual styles great for long days on the tourist trail. We have not been to Europe for quite a few years but your comments definitely resonate with memories of our last trip to Buenos Aires when I think I looked like a bag lady most of the time.
The older I get, the more comfortable I want to feel when I travel Lyn. However,you can feel comfy in nice cloths as well as in sloppy one and believe me, nothing feels so good as looking good.
Ruth - Tanama Tales
I made a lot of mistakes when I visited Europe as a college student. My attire consisted of jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. But, the thing is that nobody instructed me on how to dress properly in this area of the world (and the Internet was in its infancy during those years). Now, I usually take dresses, long pants and nice blouses. And, I take scarfs too since they can change the appearance of an outfit in one second. My biggest headache is shoes. I usually have problems finding a pair that is comfy but nice looking at the same time.
Yea, I agree with you, Ruth. Nice and comfortable shoes are hard to find and they are a must when you travel.
This is the best packing post I’ve seen, Anda. I even showed it to my husband, who is quite looking forward to the day that he needs to buy dressier clothes for a trip to Europe. When I traveled to Europe in my 20s, I did okish because I wore lots of darks and neutrals, but I did wear jeans. I remember people laughing at my countrymen who wore spring colors in winter. Now, living in the tropics, I dress like a bum, but I hope to have some dress-up time in a cooler climate in the future.
You probably miss a little dressing time if you live at the tropics, Karen. I remember enjoying the tropics but looking forward to going back home where I can dress up nicely.
This is great information, Anda. My first trip to Europe was to my daughter’s wedding in Paris about twelve years ago. She told me then not to bring sneakers or bluejeans. I see that one of your photos includes bluejeans. Are jeans acceptable now?
The photo with jeans was used to illustrate what NOT to wear in Europe, Connie.
I am European, I used to live in Poland, Germany and the UK, currently in Switzerland. I visited almost all countries in Europe. And as long as I can agree to many advices above, the blue jeans advice is a lie, sorry. Everyone wears blue jeans here. No, not to Opera or fancy restaurant or client-focused work, but anything then this – blue jeans is a daily outlook and nobody will look touristy just because of wearing jeans. This will just look normal and not fancy/exclusive.
I think you didn’t understand what you were reading. Nowhere in this post did I say that jeans are inappropriate in Europe. Shorts, T-shirts, sweat pants, baggy cloths, sneakers, converse and flip-flopsre the only NO-NO items listed here.
I think she was referring to the photo included with the scarves section…
I am European so I can explain you the difference: in Europe, of course, we dress jeans almost daily but they look way different than a photo in this post. Our jeans are usually one-colored (so no brighter parts), dark (dark blue, black, dark grey), even if they’re in light colors they usually white or light grey, they have to fit (but don’t have to be tight, they just cannot be baggy). So they are almost boarding elegance. And you have to consider kind of event: if it’s really chic restaurant, you should consider dress (not too short) or pants other than jeans. If it’s less chic (let say: typical evening with friends) but still not a fastfood or ‘milkbar’ it’s enough to dress those jeans a little bit up: nice blouse and jacket or blazer, no sporty shoes, definately no flip-flops. In other cases we dress those jeanse with a pair of (really clean) pair converse, some t-shirt (also well-fitted, not baggy). This is kind of rule: we don’t wear baggy if we don’t mean to wear “oversize”.
This is great, and the complete opposite of how I am packing for our upcoming 45 day America adventure. I was very glad to read that America is still about comfort. My goal, although yet to be determined if I will succeed, is all carry on. A mix of smart-casual and comfort, and everything can be layered. Good thing I am not headed to Europe right now – of course I would be packing differently.
Truth is Rhonda that no matter how much I like to dress up for Europe, I feel way more comfortable when I am in the States. Here nobody judges you too harsh for wearing comfy clothes.
Anda, this is one of the most informative and useful posts I have seen in a while and I especially appreciate that it was written from the perspective of one who grew up in Europe. While I don’t mind being an American, I prefer to blend into the surroundings rather than wear something that immediately brands me as one and screams “TOURIST!”
Shoes are my biggest issue; it’s frustratingly difficult to find comfy walking shoes that fit my small, narrow feet. I’m definitely going to have to search out Born; I’ve not tried them yet.