You’re a traveler, not a tourist, so dress like it. Avoid branding yourself as an American before even opening your mouth by knowing what not to wear in Europe. Here’s what to leave at home if you want to blend in.
6 Things You Should Not Wear in Europe
A Non-Ironic Fanny Pack
Are you a hip teenager with the confidence to ironically wear a designer fanny pack slung over your shoulder? Then you can get away with a fanny pack. Those of us tempted to pull out our old nylon, anti-theft fanny pack and strap it over our jeans can’t pull it off. Know your sartorial limits and opt for a more discreet (but still safe) way to carry your money, such as this pickpocket-proof crossbody or backpack.
Head-to-Toe Sports Gear
You’ll see plenty of people who don’t know the difference between baseball and cricket rocking a Yankees hat all across Europe, where hats from certain city’s teams (mainly the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Dodgers) are a fashion statement. But you’ll never see a local pair that hat with the matching jersey or a football sweatshirt. You could even try to go ultra-native with a shirt from the local team. Just make sure you know a little bit about the sport first; no one likes an imposter.
I’m always baffled when I see tourists wearing zip-off cargo pants, hiking shoes, and multi-pocketed vests in an urban environment. Are they going on a city safari at the zoo? Of course, you want to be comfortable while exploring, but that’s something you can still achieve in normal clothing, not something you’d wear on a multi-day expedition.
In Europe, flip flops are for the beach, and nowhere else. And for good reason. Have you ever looked at how gross your feet get after walking around a city in a pair? The locals and your podiatrist will thank you for confining this footwear choice to the pool, and picking a more stylish and comfortable pair for everywhere else. Try some waterproof sneakers if you really object to changing your footwear on the way to the museum from the beach.
All of the old guidebooks used to mention sneakers as a surefire way to out yourself as a tourist in Europe. That’s outdated advice now that sneakers are having a fashion moment. You’ll see sneakers on practically everyone (even those chunky white ones), styled with jeans, dresses, or even suits. The key here is buying the right kind of sneakers. Don’t just pack your neon-bright running shoes. Pick something with a little more style, like one these ones from Veja, a hugely popular brand among European fashionistas.
American-Only Branded Clothing
Many Europeans love rocking obnoxiously logoed clothes, so I’m not going to tell you to leave all your beloved brands behind. An Adidas shirt isn’t going to immediately mark you as a tourist. But if you’re wearing a brand that’s only sold in America, it will make you stand out more. Maybe leave your Old Navy American flag t-shirt at home, unless you think you can pull off the “trendy European who vacationed in New York City recently look.” A plain, unbranded shirt will look better and more timeless in photos anyway. Amazon Basics has affordable ones in nearly every color if you want to stock up.
Caroline Morse Teel is a Senior Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline.