The clothes issue

Dec 9th, 1999, 04:45 PM
  #1  
Wendy
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The clothes issue

Hi Fodorites,
I just spent three months in the UK, France and Italy, and wanted to give my input on the clothes issue (I didn't feel like scrolling through 150+ posts on the other thread).

Europeans wear jeans, shorts, and sneakers. In Italy especially, athletic wear is very trendy (if you really want to fit in, wear Umbro warmup suits). There is a Gap on every British high street. I walked straight into Harrods with a backpack and jeans (after smiling at the very cute security guard).

I, too, was worried about what I was going to wear, especially since I was backpacking. But, I was fine everywhere I went, no one laughed or pointed or snickered at me, and for some reason people asked me if I was Argentine instead of American.

So don't worry and be comfortable.
 
Dec 9th, 1999, 05:48 PM
  #2  
Bob Brown
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I agree fully with Wendy's conclusion. Having read various lines of tripe on this forum about what to wear and not wear, what was tacky and what was proper, I decided that to look proper at the Opera Bastille, we should have dress up clothes. To that end, I had a tie, coat, my best slacks, and Brooks Brothers finest shirt.
My wife had a semi formal long black dress. Our seats were in the most expensive section because that was the best that was left and I was not going to go 5,000 miles to sit in the peanut gallery. So we got all dressed up to go to the opera. We walked in and sat down beside a French gentleman clad in a T Shirt. At least it was black, so I guess that made it a formal T shirt. I was not quite ready for a T shirt in the high priced seats at the Paris opera. So if a Frenchman can wear a T shirt to the opera, I can darn well wear
Nu Balance shoes to tramp around the Louvre!!
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 05:13 AM
  #3  
carolyn
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Whew! Does this mean that I could actually wear black leggings with a long sweater in the Alps if I really want to and no one will laugh at me? Can my husband actually wear jeans instead of Dockers and not look ridiculous?

Thanks for adding this post - I can't believe I've actually been agonizing over what to wear on my trip to Germany! I'm going to see legendary castles and incredible scenery - who the heck cares what I'm wearing!!!!!
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 05:39 AM
  #4  
ilisa
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Yes, Carolyn, you can wear leggings and a sweater in the Alps. In the end, clothes are not what matters. I am a docent at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. I get people on my tours from all over the world. I've found that Europeans, Asians, Australians - they can dress just as poorly and inappropriately as Americans can. They wear jeans, sneakers, fanny packs, shirts that barely cover their breasts, and shorts that barely cover their tushes. And you know something, at the end of the day, I can't remember for the life of me who was wearing what. What I do remember are the people who conducted themselves poorly, who let their children run like wild animals, etc. So wear what you like and what makes you confortable and concentrate on enjoying your trip.
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 06:31 AM
  #5  
janine
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Relax! Those of you who are concerned about what's appropriate probably aren't the ones who are perpetuating the stereotypes.
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 07:11 AM
  #6  
howard
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Here's one more endorsement of all that's been said by the previous posters. We just returned from Italy and we saw all "forms of fashion" there, from trendy black to jeans and sneakers (and I'm talking about the Italians, as well as the Americans!) Not too many warmup suits! (Of course, the temperature was in the 50s.) However, make no mistake about, black is definitely the color!
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 07:37 AM
  #7  
Bob Brown
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My wife and I spent 9 days in the Alps after Paris in 1999, and in 1998 we spent 14 days in the Alps. Most of it was spent hiking, except for visiting Bern, Luzern, Interlaken, and Afolten.
Hiking gear is a question of functionality. I don't think you want to dress to such a wild extent that you scare the cows, but other than that, I suggest being prepared for the elements. You can get hit with sleet in September, as we did.

I can add another anecdote. If you read through the tack themes and sloppy themes that have permeated this forum over the last year, you will see where certain "fashion policemen" have inveighed against blue jeans. In 1998, we flew to Zurich via Amsterdam. As we boarded the connecting flight to Zurich, three Dutch men, all carrying expensive brief cases, were ahead of us. AND all of them were wearing blue jeans!!.
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 01:00 PM
  #8  
Marilyn Ham
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On the clothing theme, we did better in May in Italy dressing in washable slacks and shirts. I like Ex Officio, Travelsmith, and Biltwell clothing all of which travel well--less wrinkles and I don't feel out of place at a good restaurant or in a church. Remember if you wash your blue jeans they'll take a week to dry. Look for travel clothing that is reasonable through www.sierratradingpost.com. Marilyn
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 02:13 PM
  #9  
Richard
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Why the obsession with clothes, dress for the occasion as you would at home. If you're a schmuck here, you'll be a schmuck in Europe.
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 02:45 PM
  #10  
Lori
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I'm not sure I'd say it exactly as Richard did, but I tend to agree with him. Personally I feel one is usually treated better if you are clothed decently (clean, neat) and appropriate to the occasion whether it be at the local store at the mall or in a foreign city. My theory is when in doubt it is better to err on the side of well put together! Incidentally, I wear jeans in Paris frequently, jeans with a nice sweater/blouse/blazer can look very smart. My French relatives (male and female) all wear them too.
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 03:02 PM
  #11  
rand
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Would the translation of 'I'm with stupid' be Je suis avec l'idiot'. Sorry I haven't spoken french in 20 years. What would it be in german. I'm toying of having some printed up for my next trip. After all I want to fit in.
 
Dec 10th, 1999, 03:25 PM
  #12  
rand
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I hope it is obvious that is intended to be funny.
 
Dec 11th, 1999, 11:07 AM
  #13  
Wendy
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Thank you Richard for your succinct comment. That was exactly what I was trying to say.

Actually, I think that peole who are worried about their clothes and how they are dressed must think Europeans are shallow. Would YOU be rude to someone because they are wearing Day-glo?
 
Dec 11th, 1999, 02:24 PM
  #14  
Bob Brown
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For Rand: I am checking with my native German friend for an idomatic rendering of "I'm with stupid." But it is one of those things that is culturally specific. I don't know if an equal German phrase is available.

Literally, the word Idiot in German is the same as ours. I will give it a try, but I don't vouch for the accuracy of the adjective endings,

"Ich bin mit Idiot." But I think a little more is needed.

Ich bin mit dem Idiot, der neben mir steht. (I am with the the idiot who is standing next to me.)
Perhaps: Mein Begleiter ist ein Dummkopf. (My companion is an stupid person.)
Der Mensch, der neben mir steht, ist ein Idiot. (The fellow who is standing next to me is an idiot.
Any of these might do, but I hope to hear from my German friend, who lived in the USA for 7 years, on Monday.
Perhaps someone more idomatic in German insults can improve my admittedly un expert rendering.


 
Dec 12th, 1999, 02:50 AM
  #15  
nuna
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Please, remember there are people who can't afford to buy a new wardrobe just for travel. As long as my clothes are clean and without wrinkles I feel comfortable and nobody ever gave me a strange look or made comments. Why do we have to live up to the expectations of som posters who suggest what we must wear. Yes, it it is sterotyping. My formula: show respect to others, don't emphasize that I'am an American, concentrate what I am there for. I do not wear jeans to dinner!
Regards to all who travel without thinking what others may think of them. Sorry for my English.
 
Dec 12th, 1999, 06:28 AM
  #16  
s.fowler
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I promised myself I wasn't going to post to this thread... we've covered it over and over again, but...

Re jeans: the reasons for NOT taking them are practical, not cultural. The weigh a lot packed. [at least my size 14s would!]And if you get them wet or need to wash them yourself they take eons to dry. I prefer chinos for those reasons.

Re "blending in": I think it's not a matter of letting others tell you... for me, at least, it is a sign of respecting a major city that I decide to make.

Re "buying a new wardrobe": Not necessary. For me I've been travelling a lot recently, so when I buy clothes I think of travelling. My "travel" clothes [yes black, gray, brown and beige ] have become a large part of my "normal" wardrobe. But that happens over time. You need to decide what YOU want to take... if some of our advice helps great! If not.. that's okay too
 
Dec 12th, 1999, 09:49 AM
  #17  
lola
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Most travel catalogues now have mix-and- match, packable, washable, attractive, generic pants, skirts, shirts, jacket in neutral colors that take minimal space and look fine, jazzed up with a scarf or tee. It has solved my problems, as it can be dressed up or down. My wardrobe is from LL Bean. It is affordable, useful, saves thinking and leaves more time for travel. I predict this sort of thing will be the way future travelers go--neat and practical and predictable, without looking the dreaded "touristy."
 
Dec 13th, 1999, 05:32 AM
  #18  
Bob Brown
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For Rand and others on the T shirt question. The Germans evidently don't treat calling someone stupid much of a joke, except in a close circle where you know the person well. About the best would German version would be "Ich bin von Dummheit umgeben." [ I am surrounded by stupidity. ]But that is, as my friend said, strong. I gather that the subject is best left alone because it is hard to to do it and be funny.
 
Dec 13th, 1999, 01:30 PM
  #19  
elvira
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I'm with s.fowler re the jeans: WAY too heavy and lordy they take forEVER to dry (and European dryers are not the turbo macho machines Americans are used to, so eons errs on the conservative side for drying time). As for new clothes HAH HAH I say in your general direction: we take our disposable clothes - frayed turtlenecks, moth-holed sweaters, stirrup pants and leggings that are past their prime and wear them for 3 days or so then trum dem away, leaving beaucoup room for our souvenirs (and our souvenir t-shirts "je suis avec l'idiot >").
And, ok so I'm a grownup but I grew up when jeans became popular, and I never understood the fascination. They are heavy, hot, and about as uncomfortable as chain mail; too short in the crotch, too tight in the waist, the rivets get hot in the sun and burn one's skin, and those zippers! Leggings, stirrup pants and chinos are more comfortable for me (unless I was trekking in the Serengeti, then I might be glad I had thick pants).
Last, but not least, one's age has a great deal to do with 'what you can get away with'. I'm of a certain age where more 'grownup' clothes are better suited (except for the "je suis avec l'idiot> t shirt, which is ageless
 
Jan 19th, 2000, 12:11 PM
  #20  
Janice
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The best reason I can find to dress conservatively and try to blend in is that it makes you less of a target for people who harass and steal from tourists - if you look like you live there, they may give you some peace. The other easy way to fit in - buy groceries - few tourists are carrying bags with cheese and bread (although it's a great way to snack) and again, you look like you're not a target.
 

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