How to Avoid Looking like a (North) American Tourist in Europe

Aside from the good people of New York City (and possibly LA and Montreal), it’s safe to say that North Americans have never really been considered fashionable, especially when compared to their European counterparts. It’s no surprise therefore, on any given trip to Europe, how easy it is to spot a North American tourist from miles away, especially with their baggy sweats and baseball caps…

Having a more of a boho style, I always feel like I would fit in better with the fashion scene in Europe. During my trip there this summer, I was pleasantly surprised when no one mistaken me for a tourist, but rather, I had loads of people ask me for directions or chatting me up in their local language, thinking that I’m a local.

Not being immediately outcast as a tourist definitely has its perks, and therefore I’ve compiled this guide for anyone planning a trip to Europe….

Ditch: the hoodie

A nice form fitting hoodie void of obnoxious patterns and logos is alright, but most definitely leave your university hoodies at home. A large NYU or Ohio State across your chest is like waving a red flag at a bullfighting ring. Admittedly, I do love my university hoodie and bring it with me whenever I travel as a keepsake of home, but once I step off the plane, it goes to the bottom of my luggage.

Ditch: the baseball cap

I absolutely hate baseball caps. I have also yet to see a European wear one…and for good reason too. All they really do is make your hair look flat and lifeless. If you’re having a bad hair day, you’re in luck – all European pharmacies are stocked with shelves of hair grooming products. I was surprised that some places had a larger selection for men than women. Now you guys simply do not have an excuse.¬†

Ditch: the oversized sports jersey

When you’re in Europe, soccer is the best sport in the world (they are right) and therefore, wearing an ugly hockey or basketball jersey will most likely result in you getting beaten up in a shady alleyway by a drunk Manchester United enthusiast. If you must, I would go with an Adidas soccer jersey, which are well fitted and quite fashionable. Otherwise, don’t wear a jersey unless you’re actually playing a sport.¬†

Ditch: the sweatpants

Admittedly, I do have a pair of American Apparel sweatpants that I enjoy wearing around the house, but I would never wear it out in public, unless I’m going to Wal-mart. Why would you even want to wear these in Europe, when everyone there is skinny and wears fabulous clothing? While they are comfortable, they make your legs look twice the size.

Ditch: the questionable footwear 

This list includes but is not limited to…crocs, uggs, toms, and sequined rain boots (yes they do exist). Nice foot wear is important to Europeans, so it is advisable to invest in a good pair before leaving for Europe. Remember, this is a continent where even Prada sneakers are not worthy of admission into certain English nightclubs, because they are the preferred shoe of choice by many delinquents. Do you really want to have the guy who hijacked your car to have better shoes than you?

Lastly, I will part with these final words of wisdom: when in doubt, avoid anything worn by the cast of Jersey Shore. Remember that minimalism and clean lines are key, and that black is always the preferred colour (although I have to say, I do love it when european guys wear all white (see: 90’s boy band music videos) It’s kinda hot).

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  1. November 27, 2011 / 4:53 pm

    Agreed on all points. And Crocs should actually never be worn, ever.

  2. November 28, 2011 / 3:07 pm

    I live in Hawaii, completely irks me whenever I see tourists in crocs.

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