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Wearing shorts in Paris, Milan, Florence, London, and other world class cities


Wearing shorts in Paris, Milan, Florence, London, and other world class cities

Old Jul 10th, 2005, 09:49 AM
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Wearing shorts in Paris, Milan, Florence, London, and other world class cities

'Just returned from 5+ weeks in Europe for professional and vacation reasons. Given a recent discussion of the appropriateness of shorts in the major world-class cities of Europe, I thought I'd make a point of axsking the opinions of colleagues in Paris, Milan, Florence, and London. These people are lawyers, business professionals, and other professionals, I'm guessing ages 28-45 or so, born in their respective countries. My question to them concerned their opinion about male tourists wearing shorts in their respective cities. (I asked specifically about males since this seemed to ahve the most interest in the Fodors discussion.)

The unanimous answer: No shorts. Shorts are never appropriate. You may not get kicked out of places (except major churches,) but you will not be appropriately dressed for style-conscious world-class cities.

Europe is not necessarily more formal, but even the casual dress is more polished.

To paraphrase some colleagues that summed up the opinions:

A Parisian lawyer: No man over the age of 12 wears shorts in town. Shorts are for active sports, going to the beach or hiking, or some tourist towns -- NOT Paris or other large cities.

The marketing director in Milan: Wearing shorts in town is like poor table manners. No one will tell you to your face that you have poor table manners, but you will not be thought well of. You'll just provide further evidence to Italians that many Americans lack civil courtesy.

The finance guy in London: You can't go by Englishmen -- we are unfortunately much like Americans. Half of us understand how to dress, but the other half doesn't get it, and gives us the reputation of being slobs in shorts and running shoes, if not the socks-and-sandal crowd (include many Germans in this, too.) On average, the French, Italians, and Spaniards know more about dressing appropriately in town.

A fact-check on my trip: the Duomo in Milan still excludes anyone not "modestly dressed," i.e. no shorts, and shoulders must be covered. Note that even a short sleeve or shawl, etc. will do. When we were inside, the only people in shorts were two guys who managed to get in the back way and were in the process of being escorted out. Note that the definition of shorts includes those baggy knee-length cargo jobs that many tourists (unfortunately) wear.

In contrast, Siena, which is much more of a specifically-tourist town, requires modest dress in its Duomo, but has made a concession. If you really want to get in and are not appropriately dressed, they will provide and require you to wear what looks like a large dryer sheet that drapes over the head and covers the shoulders. The Siena Duomo seemed to allow in the baggy knee-length shorts, but nothing shorter, and no short skirts.

So: enjoy your trip, whatever way you decide to dress, but I hope this provides guidance to those who want some local opinions, as well as from seasoned travelers to these parts.

madameX is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2005, 09:58 AM
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My dear you're talking rubbish.

If you'd care to look through the collections for the fortcoming spring/summer collections, you'll see that shorts are THE big thing. However, the reason that one doesn't wear them in a city is that it's more of a seaside thing or casual, it's not business. Also, one MUST have the legs for it.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 10:13 AM
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In *general*, I think Germans are worse offenders than Americans or Brits when it comes to wearing shorts in European cities, esp. sensitive places like cathedtrals. Most Americans I know who do wear shorts (the men, anyway) are wearing fairly long shorts and a decent (short sleeved) shirt (a la Rick Steves--not high fashion, but there's nothing wrong with it). And women are more likely to be in capris than shorts.
But *some* German men--my goodness. What are they thinking? At the cathedral in Angers, there was a pretty sternly worded sign saying that shorts were discouraged and a shirt MUST be worn. Who would go into a cathedral topless? I asked one of the volunteer ladies near the door--she sighed and said it was always the Germans.
Last summer, while we were staying at the Novotel in Amboise, two tour groups checked in--one of Italian art buffs and one of Germans. The Italians were dressed in style; about nearly half of the German group, well, the less said the better.
However, I realize that most Germans would not think of showing up at a cathedral in short shorts and a wife beater t-shirt.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 10:27 AM
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Dear "My Kingdon" --

'Very much agree with you, especially regarding the reason why shorts are NOT appropriate for the major cities. I just wanted to put the opinions into context, i.e. they are from colleagues and friends who are business (and other) professionals, and I specifically asked them about their opinions of tourists wearing shorts.

Yes, I know that shorts are THE thing this season and coming season, but as you say, most should proceed cautiously. For many, it's not a good idea.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 10:40 AM
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Thanks God not every individual is a business person
I'm joking but I think that's a very very closed view of the question. It's obvious that no one wears shorts nor capris in that environment. Not even if you visit in, to say, April when most of the people are dressed for working
But if you are in August, in a southern location with lots of humidity and very very hot...you still won't see a lawyer in shorts in Madrid...because all the lawyers are gone to the seaside and are wearing shorts there And yes, you can see a lot of people (spanish ones) in shorts in Madrid (when I say shorts, I don't mean short shorts of course) but they are in vacation, and probably, due to our weather being sunny for months men have tanned legs to show
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 02:40 PM
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In London I saw just about any manner of garb you care to name. I have no idea if they were tourists or not, but if all of the jeans clad people were tourists then nobody in London is a Brit.

And after viewing the scantily clad, semi fully exposed bosoms of countless females in London who were NOT tourists, I don't think anybody can say anything about shorts on men.

As for the Parisians, I will paraphrase a comment by a somewhat ill informed famous lady. Let them sweat.

But I think the sanctity and the dignity of a church should be honored with the right attire, and that excludes shorts and ugly T shirts.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 02:55 PM
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Cut the "world class city" crap for crying out loud. If YOU want to walk around without wearing shorts, go ahead.

Stick to "business" and the rest of us will stick to what we already know is both "acceptable" and comfortable.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 03:17 PM
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Speaking of "The Thing" to wear, skirts of all lengths, colors and shapes, are totally in right now and as mentioned on another thread, for women, much cooler than shorts. The knee-length ones are absolutey everywhere dahlings!
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 03:50 PM
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Question for Btilke or anyone else:
". . . and a wife beater t-shirt. "

Is this the same thing as a "singlet?" These garments were specifically banned from certain restaurants on our most recent trip, and I have no idea what they are, except for a very strange, one-piece leotard-type that high school wrestlers wear. Surely the restaurants don't need to ban that by name? Is a singlet also a sleeveless shirt on a man?
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 04:18 PM
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This was taken from the Travel Section of today's New York Times:

Giant Suitcases

To the Editor: Regarding "Overweight Bag? Have Your Wallet Ready," (Practical Traveler, June 5): This old fogey, who remembers china in coach and stewardesses offering Chiclets in baskets, has been dying to know what is in the giant suitcases of American travelers dressed like slobs--more sneakers, t-shirts, and jeans?

Susan N. Allen
New York, NY
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 05:04 PM
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I saw that letter in today's paper and my first thought was that at the airport, most of us dress in order to get through security with the least amount of fuss and bother. For me, that means a t-shirt and yoga pants, so yes, I do look like something of a slob. In my oversized suitcase are the slacks, skirts and real shoes that I will be wearing during my stay at my destination.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 05:24 PM
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AND heaven forbid! The fall collections are ALL BLACK! Wonder wwhat MK2 will have to say about that!
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 06:38 PM
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Who cares what your so-called colleagues say about anything. Anyone who even uses the term "world class city" is operating in a different planet than I live in. What on earth is that supposed to mean, how pretentious.

This isn't even remotely true, and no self-respecting Parisian lawyer would care what tourists wear. Maybe he's very conservative, old and/or old-fashioned, but I know many native Frenchmen who wear shorts, and not just at the beach. If you go into Parisian dept. stores, the mens' departments have rows of shorts for sale (called "bermudas" most commonly). There are many large French cities where locals commonly wear shorts in casual moments, also, notably in the south--and I mean in town.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 06:44 PM
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Europeans so grotesquely ethno-centric and ignorant of the rest of the world that they don't realize that people around the world have different customs, foods, clothing, etc.

You would have thought after all the peoples they had colonized, raped, pillaged, and murdered all around the glove that something eventually would have clicked about other folks doing things differently--and differently doesn't equal wrong.

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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 07:16 PM
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Wow. If it existed, you'd definitely be a nominee for some sort of "most pretentious post of the year" award. Perhaps such an award should be started and named in your honor.

Anyone who has to concern their small mind with such a subject, while throwing out terms like "style-conscious world class cities", needs to very quickly get over his or her self.

Appallingly busy-bodyish behavior on your part with this post, "Madame X".
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 07:21 PM
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I've seen photos in guidebooks of tourists in shorts sitting at outdoor cafes. I'm sure it was one of the hot Parisian summer months. And obviously the tourists were given a table so they were not ignored. I think when the stifling heat is apparent in Paris no one really cares if you wear shorts.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 07:39 PM
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Even when the heat is not stifling in Paris, you're free to wear shorts. The people who object to shorts in Paris are the same type of people who object to shorts anywhere else in the world, namely, an intolerant and snooty minority whose opinion is largely worthless to begin with (why would anyone dress just to please a minority of snooty strangers?).

I'm continually amazed by people who ask if it's okay to wear shorts in Paris. Why don't they ask this about Tokyo, New York, or Sydney? The "rules" (such as they are) are the same. In big cities, you're free to wear whatever you want.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 08:58 PM
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What does Bill Bryson say about this?
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 09:30 PM
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Wear whatever you like as you will never see these people again.Travel light .There is no rule of fashion any more .However respect for the culture of a country and avoiding standing out as a tourist ready for mugging usually means you wear' the uniform '.Look like a dope as long as it does not bother you but for heavens sake wear what is expected in certain places. Women looking like hookers off duty in bare mid riff tops trying to enter St. Peters or sweaty men wearing shorts with socks and sandals get what they deserve - derision .
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 10:24 PM
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You have an English friend who dislikes shorts. Yet, he tells us, we all wear shorts here. He doesn't like it.

But we don't like ill-informed foreigners who come over here and tell us what's "appropriate" in our own city. By all means lecture your gullible fellow-citizens on whatever fantasies you want to invent. But leave us out of it.

For the avoidance of doubt, in London it's "appropriate" (or as we used to say before long-winded psychobabble became the norm, just fine) to wear what you damn well please.

It is however mandatory for ignorant visitors who don't know what they're talking about to keep their mouths shut.
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