Dec 7th, 2005, 08:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
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My wife and I decided to spend Xmas in the brussels area and was wondering what kinds of clothes to take. We like to blend in as much as possible. Interested in during the day (sight seeing) and evening (dinner) dress.
alvin01 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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Dress like you would in the States in the winter. Slacks, shirt, sweater, and warm jacket. No one will know the difference.
Budman is offline  
Dec 7th, 2005, 10:23 AM
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Well, let's see, do you want to blend in with the Asian population? the North African population? the Belgian population? Brussels is a big diverse city, no one will notice you no matter what...unless you run around naked. But since it most likely will be cold, dress warm!

Unless you speak French or Flemish, the minute you open your mouth to speak they will know that you are not Belgian anyway.
lyb is offline  
Dec 7th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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>>the Belgian population? <<

And by that, I mean the Caucasians...
lyb is offline  
Dec 7th, 2005, 10:26 AM
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I suggest taking clothes of similar colors, pieces that all mix and match and can be layered, are casual but neat, and suitable for the weather. A nice looking coat, hat, gloves, scarf to top things off, with comfortable and sturdy footwear.
suze is online now  
Dec 7th, 2005, 10:31 AM
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okay, I will try to redeem myself after my sarcastic comment...sorry, couldn't help myself.

As a woman, let me suggest that if you wear high heels, not to wear shoes with thin heels, many of the streets are cobblestones and it will be difficult. My best friend's husband is from Belgium, they recently and unfortunately went to Brussels for his father's funeral. As she quickly packed for clothes for the funeral, she didn't think about the shoes aspect, packed regular high heels with small heels. Her husband had to constantly grab her arm so she wouldn't trip and kill herself.
lyb is offline  
Dec 7th, 2005, 10:33 AM
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"what to wear" questions bring out a lot of attitudes and opinions.
Here's a recent thread with some practical information.

Check the forecast before you go
If temps will be cold, bring the warmest coat you have; if all you have is a parka, so be it.
If you own a dressier winter coat, that might be more adaptable for both day and evening. As suze said, layering is important for temp changes (even indoors vs outdoors) and for occasion flexibility.
elaine is offline  
Dec 7th, 2005, 12:05 PM
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We're at our apartment in Brussels now. Wear pretty much whatever you wish...clothes that will keep you warm and dry in the rain and cold. Many Brussels women wear 3/4 length parkas with fur trimmed hoods (European style, not Columbia Sportswear type parkas). Down (or synthetic) filled coats (usually black or brown) are also popular. Low heeled boots comfortable for walking (preferably waterproof) are common as are dark pants, sweaters, a nice scarf, maybe some jewelry.
Men dress pretty much as they would in any East Coast city. Men's coats are usually long wool, lined trench, or leather car coat (not bomber jacket).
Gloves, umbrellas, etc.
Brussels has great shopping, treat your wife to a new European purse at any of the shops along the Avenue Louise or Blvd. Waterloo (Longchamp, Lancel, MaxMara, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Delvaux, etc.).
There still are some restaurants where people dress up for dinner...Le Chalet de la Foret in Uccle, for example, or fashion-conscious hangouts like Lola.
Brussels has a lot of well-heeled retirees who dress up a little more than the younger residents. And if you go to Brasseries Georges for Sunday lunch (highly recommended!), you will find a lot of well dressed couples taking well dressed Maman out for the weekly get together.
If I can recommend a few non-touristy restaurants, try:
*Notos (Greek haute cuisine, this is NOT your typical taverna) on rue Livourne
*Brasseries Georges (good lunch specials on weekdays, a classic spot to meet for Sunday lunch, French bistro food, all good)
*Canterbury's (by the Ixelles lakes [ponds IMHO]--best chicken dishes in town, terrific frites, nice fireplace
*Les larmes du Tigre (21 rue de Wynants near the Palais de Justice), excellent Thai
* Lola--fashionable spot (after all these years) on the Sablon
* La Tour d'y voir---also on the Sablon but only if you're feeling tell the chef what kind of meal you'd like (meat, fish, vegetarian) and he takes it from there. Excellent food but not for the picky eater or for those who like to choose from a menu
* Le Chalet de La Foret--way out in Uccle (next to our health club), but a classy spot in a pretty wooded setting
*Shake Hands (weird name, isn't it?)--A French brasserie in the Stockel neighborhood of Woluwe St. Pierre. Nice spot for lunch, one of the least expensive choices here.
*Le Jaco--similar to Shake Hands but out at the end of the 92 tram line in St. Job (Uccle). If you're out that way. A casual, local hangout, good food.

All of them are moderately priced but can become expensive if you go all out with wine choices, etc. Reservations strongly advised for all of them for can probably get by without reservations for Canterbury's or Shake Hands at lunch. Le Jaco is probably fine without reservations, but I doubt you'll get out that way.
*Les Etangs Mellaerts--next to the lovely Woluwe Parc in Woluwe St. Pierre (on the 39 and 44 tram lines). Very popular for lunch. Surprisingly good food for a park location.

Au Vieux St. Martin--not for meals, for drinks or light snacks only. A prime spot on the Sablon. I love going there in the middle of the day, sitting at Bill Clinton's table (a table in the back corner of the front section) and having a tea with fresh mint or decadent cappuccino (comes with a bowl of homemade whipped cream topped with dark chocolate shavings and served with a palmier cookie).

Most of these have web sites I can pass on to you if you're interested. Or go to and type in the names for contact info, photos, and links to web sites (if available).

Enjoy Brussels!
BTilke is offline  
Dec 7th, 2005, 08:51 PM
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Thank you for the info about Brussels. The non-touristy restaurant info was very helpful. We will be sure to dress warm and have good boots for walking. I love winter so coats, hats, gloves and scarves are my thing when it's cold. We are looking forward to the trip and plan to do a lot of shopping. A nice purse is definitely in my future. Thanks again for your help.

I would appreciate the restaurant websites that you mentioned.
alvin01 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2005, 12:38 AM
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The locals you see on the street are wearing 'transit' garments. They are travelling from their homes to either work or a specific destination. They are wearing 'destination' attire under their outerwear. Example: A lady in sneakers/trainers with heels in her bag for the office. Dress to please your partner! CNN noted that most restaurants will find a place for a well dressed party with a polite request.
GSteed is offline  
Dec 8th, 2005, 03:21 AM
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The Belgians are not reknowned for their dress sense and things are pretty casual here - but I would refrain from the big white sneaker with big sweatshirt with big college name emblazoned on it. People here dress quite sombrely. I have a bright pink coat which I like, and every time I wear it on the metro people just stare!
Dec 8th, 2005, 03:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Actually, most of the Belgian women I know dress quite well, but in a conservative, sensible way. They don't fall all over themselves to embrace the latest fashion fad, esp. the ones that appeal to hard drinking, chain smoking, nightclubbing trendoids. They're also unlikely to fall into the trap of mutton dressing like lamb.

I would match the clothes from the Belgian fashion house Natan, for example, with anybody else around. And the Antwerp Six have done just a bit for the fashion world.
But Brussels is an expat melting pot, the badly dressed people one sees on the street may very well not be Belgian at all.
BTilke is offline  
Dec 8th, 2005, 04:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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We are Americans living in Brussels.

I bought a pink North Face coat before we moved here and often wear it while running errands during the day (with New Balance tennis shoes and jeans). People know I am American before I even open my mouth! One of these days, I am going to break down and buy a pair of the little Puma tennis shoes and try to blend in a little.

I second the advice to dress in lots of layers. And be sure to carry a bag with you during the day to hold hats, gloves, scarf that you strip off when you get warm (as well as maps, books, bottled water).

It is the cobblestones hear that make skinny heels a big no-no. Even the little kitten heels don't work bc they get stuck.
LGBooker is offline  
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