Thursday, June 10, 2010

What to Wear in Europe

Hello dear American friend,

I hear you're coming to visit Europe this summer. Very exciting news!  Now: what to wear while visiting the continent? That's the question!  Beyond feeling comfortable while you travel abroad, how you dress does play a part in your safety. When you look like a tourist, you also look like a target to potential pickpockets and scam artists. (Trust me on this one -- I've been there. I've dealt with the pickpocket while wearing a bright orange blazer and toting along a North Face backpack).

Keep in mind a few things about visiting Europe in the summer:
  • It could be as hot as it is back in the US but it's also just as likely to be only 65 degrees outside.
  • Europeans do not have closets the size of yours -- they mix and match and maximize what they've got.
  • You're going to be walking. A lot.
  • Not all countries have the same style! Italians have a different flair from the Germans and vice-versa! So keep in mind what country you're going to be in and dress accordingly.

I can always spot Americans by the following:
  • White tennis shoes 
  • Boot cut jeans
  • Coach purses
  • Lots of color

I can always spot tourists in general by:
  • slow walking
  • fanny-packs
  • maps the size of Texas

Now back to what you need to know about what to wear come this summer:

First off, if you want to blend with the locals only straight-leg jeans, skinny jeans, and boyfriend jeans need apply. Don't get me wrong, I love my pair of Joe's boot leg jeans as much as you love yours, but over here -- it screams "I'm not from around here!".

Hence, you'll want to look for jeans like these:
or these:

But those shoes lead me to point number two. Stilettos are not going to work on cobblestone streets. You might be able to pop into the local bistro for dinner in a pair of high heels, but the hard work of touring all those historic sights must be done in something more practical.  While you can literally wear a pair of boots here well into June (our high is in the low 50's here today, and I'm wearing 'em now!), you'll need a comfortable pair of sandals or something better suited for a nicer climate. Here are a few options:

I wore this pair of Birkenstocks everyday last summer in Paris (and in Berlin and Prague), and I was not the only one donning these shoes around town -- plenty of Parisians were wearing Birks everywhere I looked. (And the Birkenstock shop in Marais was slammed all the time!). Make sure to give yourself a good three weeks to break in a pair of Birkenstocks before touring around on holiday in them.

I realize this is not news, but Cole Haan and Nike Air have joined forces to make all of our lives so much nicer! We can now have the look of a Cole Haan shoe but with the technology of a Nike sole. Talk about comfortable!  Here are just a few C.H. shoes I came across that would be perfect to wear while holidaying in Europe:

I snagged both these pictures off of Zappos; however, I saw the pair on the right at a Marshalls in America about a month ago. So you might be able to find a good deal out there!

Finally, bring a scarf! Instead of using one of the airplane blankets on your flight over, use your own scarf that can double as a wrap.  Then when you are over on the continent, you can use the scarf as the temperature ebbs and flows. (And if you visit Britain, it will definitely ebb and flow --- all within a matter of minutes!)

The color of this scarf brings me to my final advice: not too much color. Americans are not afraid of wearing hot pink leopard print cardigans. However, you're probably not going to find anyone over here wearing that. (If you want to be the first, that's fine!)

Overall, you're visiting Europe to have fun so don't worry too much about what you look like. There will be people that are way more fashionable than you (and probably employed by Prada) and plenty of people way less fashionable. Don't pack too much. Bring some great basics that are comfortable that you can mix and match -- and most of all: have fun!

[And if you need any more practical advice, feel free to email!]


amanda said...

Loved this post. Makes me want to come Europe!

mary caroline said...

I loved this post too! I always bring a scarf and use it as my airplane blanket/pillow :) Stylish while sleeping is not hard to pull off! xoxo

Brandt and Jill Waggoner said...

I love that the girl who I first saw wearing Express jeans covered in sparkles is giving the fashion advice on subdued European culture. You do it all, Mrs. Priss. Love you!

Ashli said...

Jill - I had to spice up the outfit due to having to wear the same top as about 100+ girls. And sparkly jeans did the trick! (Especially in 2002!!!) Haha!

Griggs said...

So, do you see moms wearing jeans like that? Wow, I have to say I love my boot-cut jeans.

By the way, I'm Rebecca, Michael's wife. We plan on moving to Edinburgh next summer. Michael is hoping to attend UOE School of Divinity to get his PhD. I've been using your blog, as well as a few others, to prepare myself for the move. Of course having our 3 wonderful kids with us won't lend itself to quite as much travel I think.

Thanks for sharing your adventures!

Ashli said...

Rebecca - I definitely see moms wearing jeans like that. However, you still see some boot cut jeans, too!

I didn't know Michael is interested in academics! That's great! Where all is he applying to? Does he have someone here he wants as a supervisor? I love living in Edinburgh, although I imagine it could be quite different with three little ones! Good luck with the applications!

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