how to dress properly in europe

Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:45 PM
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We generally travel out of season so wearing shorts has never been an option. If we needed to know what to wear in the summer the Rick Steves, Rudy Maxa, Globe Trotter programs would tell us. Just look at what people in the streets are wearing.

The only comment I've ever had on my attire was in Cimetiere du Montparnasse when the guard pointed and asked, jokingly, if my waterproof Bass brogues were small boats. At least, that's how my wife translated it. It was rainy and chilly that day.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:51 PM
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Yes, I visit New York and Boston and Chicago (and San Francisco and London and Paris) at least once a year. I see people wearing shorts. They are known as slobs.

As one restuatanteur once said to me, "I love well-dressed customers. They add to the ambiance of why people want to be here." (He further said, "All I need is one well-drssed, attractive woman in te room to make everyone else feel that this is the "in"place,") No, you will not get a better table than a regular. However, you probably will get a better table if dressed nicely.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:56 PM
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I should also add that some attractions, like the major cathedrals in Italy, require proper dress. This means NO SHORTS for anyone, and ladies need to have their shoulders covered (i.e. even the most modest sleeveless tops are not acceptable. If it's hot, I carry a lightwight pashmina stole in my bag.) I forget if this is the case with Paris, since I've never had a problem. there is usually a volunteer guard in places like the Duomo in milan to keep the scruffies out.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 06:02 PM
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Alan M --

I repeat -- Ever notice how it's GUYS who think that they are "just fine" when inapprorpirately dressed down? You may not be kicked out of a place -- many places in the U.S. do not want to offend (liek they hesitate to ask parents to quiet their misbehaving children.) ..But I've worked enough with restaurants to know that they WISH you'd dress more appropriately. You'd give the place more class if you put some pants on!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 06:02 PM
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Alan M --

I repeat -- Ever notice how it's GUYS who think that they are "just fine" when inappropriately dressed down? You may not be kicked out of a place -- many places in the U.S. do not want to offend (like they hesitate to ask parents to quiet their misbehaving children.) ..But I've worked enough with restaurants to know that they WISH you'd dress more appropriately. You'd give the place more class if you put some pants on!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 06:24 PM
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Yes - there are many people in NYC who wear shorts. Usually they are either actually doing something sporty (biking or going to the park or something) or are doing errands in their own neighborhoods (it may be a tourist area to you but to us its the equivalent of the local mall).

But we don;t - with a few extremely ill-bred exceptions - wear shorts to decent restaurants (McD's and coffee shops don;t count), to the theater, to church etc.

Believe me - there is nothing more off-putting when you're trying to enjoy a nice dinner that having to gaze at some strange man's knobby, hairy legs.

(And it always seems to be the ones with the most unattractive legs who insist on wearing shorts. And for those who will probably flame me - yes my own beau has quite nice legs - neither knobby not apelike - which he is happy to show off WHEN APPROPRIATE.)
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 06:31 PM
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It seems the preferred (if not approriate) beach dress is topless for the girls.

Be prepared... ;>)

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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 09:22 PM
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Paris does have a high percentage of sophisticated dressers, but the majority of Parisians are not sophisticated. Most are working class stiffs--plus a goodly percentage of jobless illegal immigrants, underemployed legal immigrants, and welfare recipients.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2005, 05:34 AM
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I just returned from two weeks in Switzerland and Italy two days ago. I was surprised at how many more women were dressed in denim jeans on this trip than I had seen in the past. The colorful scarves around the neck were everywhere! There was a thread a while back on how to fold these to wear around the neck.

I wore my denim jeans a few times (mostly for "in the car" days), but for touring I found that I was most comfortable in dark brown or black stretch jeans, which I buy in Zurich, by Gardeur or Brax. Very comfortable, plus quite appropriate for most places. They run about $150/pair. Similar design to Mac Jeans. I'm nearly 6 foot tall and have problems w/length and find Gardeur and Brax to run longer and fit better.

I also took a pair of nice dressy black pants and a colorful sweater set for any special events. Our travel is always pretty much spur of the moment (booking the NEXT day's room on line..) and I never know if I will have a need for special dressing. I did dress up a couple of times, so they were needed this trip.

I wore my very comfortable Icon shoes everyday!! I had people looking and commenting all the time. I have the pair with the Modigliani woman's face on the toes. I traveled with several pairs of shoes, but never had to change these! Next time I'll remember that, and make more space for other things. I don't wear heels (ankle problems) and comfortable shoes are always very important. I also do NOT wear tennis shoes of any kind.

I also had packed a skirt, which I never wore. I'll leave it home next time as well.

The weather turned quite chilly. We even had snow in Lucerne. I had my long black wool coat plus sweater/top layers underneath, and the colorful scarf around my neck, of course. My cropped black leather jacket came in handy once the weather turned a bit warmer the last part of the trip.

It seems that no matter what I pack on a trip to Europe, I'm not right in style there. I'm beyond trying to dress European anymore! I dress for comfort and appearance!

Shorts? NEVER! (and I've been told I should really show off my long shapely legs)
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Old Apr 23rd, 2005, 08:09 AM
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Since you are going to the Amalfi Coast I might suggest you have a look at the to see what the folks in the street are wearing. Today looks like a beautiful sunny day and I don't see ANY shorts
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 06:09 AM
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I really don’t understand the obsession with trying to pass oneself off as a native. I do believe in dressing appropriately and I would never want to offend anyone in a country I am visiting, but where does it stop? Will I forgo deodorant and daily bathing (ever been on a crowded European subway or bus in the summer)? Will I forget about the dentist if I am visiting the U.K.? Obviously these are broad generalizations, but some of the extreme and extremely serious views here amaze and amuse me. I travel to experience other cultures, I travel to have fun, and when I travel I want to be comfortable and appropriate, not necessarily a clone of the place I am visiting. Wearing black in Paris does not instantly make one a Parisian (and don’t kid yourself, they can spot you a mile away). When I see German tourists wearing shorts and sandals with dark socks on Fifth Ave. in the summer I do not turn away in disgust, I think, “German tourist” (and hopefully they change for dinner). MadameX, where are you from? You have a typical “outsiders” view, which is similar to “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, being a yearly visitor to a city hardly entitles you to be the fashion police. I bet even Nan Kempner has worn shorts on occasion (though made to order by Yves, of course).
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 06:22 AM
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I just returned from a week in Paris and was surprised by the number of Parisians wearing jeans on the metro! Who do they think they are? Americans? I'm hoping this means we can all feel more comfortable in our jeans. I have a friend in Paris I stay with and she always tells me, no shorts, ever. But shorts to her means "short" shorts. Knee length is fine. P.S. the tourists wear whatever is comfortable!
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 06:24 AM
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1. Something on the top
2. Something on the bottom
3. Shoes
4. Purse

The above is an unbeatable outfit, appropriate everywhere.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 07:28 AM
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Jeans have always been popular in Paris, but they wear them with wonderful tops and jackets. I saw a woman with a Chanel jacket with her jeans, she looked smashing.
The French don't pay attention to what you wear as long as you are neat and not much skin showing.
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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"I see people wearing shorts. They are known as slobs." --MadameX

I must correct you. In San Francisco, people wearing shorts are known as tourists and they are usually freezing their little knees off, especially in August.
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Old Apr 28th, 2005, 07:35 AM
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I just returned from Paris. While strolling and touring about, anything goes - except shorts and jogging suits. In restaurants, dep. on where you're going, you may need something other than jeans. (We didn't go to those places.)
Have fun!
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Old Apr 28th, 2005, 05:14 PM
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Oh Marilyn, yes, the dear tourists in SF, shivering and miserable.

BTW, do you remember the Herb Cain column years ago that quoted a SF woman who was at the airport in Boston and overheard two youngish women talking to each other and one said "oh, I can hardly wait to wear my new bikini at SF's North Beach!". Too funny!

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Old May 6th, 2005, 09:16 PM
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AlanM --

I grew up in New York and visit a few times a year. Yes, I've also seen Nan and the other ladies who lunch. Only on occasion will you see her wearing shorts in town. Even then, I would not put her shorts in the same class with the grubbies that many tourists wear to "feel comfortable when touring all day." She's running out on an errand, not touring a museum or visiting with friends at a nice cafe.

That said, Europe still believes more in good presentation when in public. Of course, you will see jeans, but they will be better cut and accessorized. More frequently, you'll see good pants or slacks, as some of the others have noted above.

No, Americans don't make obvious fun of the German tourists in their black socks and sandals. Partly, it is because we are Americans and have a more "whatever" attitude. ..but my Paris friends make fun of that German tourist, too. It's more that he is clueless in a style more approrpaite for a beach vacation, than that he is a tourist.

No, "passing yourself off" as a Parisian, etc. isn't the ultimate goal. But as you imply, being clued in to what is appropriate is. Not everyone is equally well clued in.
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Old May 7th, 2005, 05:16 AM
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Dinner party two nights ago.

Young woman who recently lived in Budapest for six months said: They dress so ODDLY there -- in the hot, humid summers.


Construction site, middle-aged workman in speedo and construction boots, piloting a wheel-barrow.

Midday, city street: Young woman in high-heels and a bikini, walking her dog.
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