What to wear in Germany?

Jan 21st, 2002, 05:54 AM
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What to wear in Germany?

OK, a silly question, I know (please don't berate me below for asking). My husband and I (we're in our early 30's, if that matters) are planning on traveling to Germany in May. Two years ago I was in Italy, my first trip abroad. Everywhere I went there were a lot of Italian tourists looking spectacular. I'm talking about women in their short black skirts, tall black boots, hiking around the Colosseum and Forum. I have to say that I felt like I had shown up to a party not knowing it was a formal affair, and there I was in jeans and tennis shoes with not another pair of Nike's in sight. I felt as though I stuck out like a sore thumb. So, can anyone tell me what I should were in Germany? I don't want to look like an American slob. I'm not saying that I'm prepared to hike around in my pumps, but would nice pants/skirts and leather loafers be more appropriate? Thanks and sorry again for asking such a question.
Jan 21st, 2002, 12:11 PM
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Make sure abouve all else that you have confortable shoes.
Build around them.
Depending on where you go is how well dressed the others are.
Europeans very rarely wear white sneakers.
They do wear hiking boots and yes, good loafers.
I can't stress to you how important it is to have good shoes.
If your feet hurt you'll have a lousey trip.
Jan 21st, 2002, 12:20 PM
John G
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Au contraire, mon soeur! I think you were the one who was dressed correctly for sightseeing. I find it ridiculous when traveling to see people dressed up to climb over rocks, through tunnels, up stairs, etc. It would be different if you were going shopping or cafe hopping, but to spend your day walking/hiking it is best to wear comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing. Save the pumps for a night out on the town.
Jan 21st, 2002, 01:11 PM
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There's a number of threads on comfortable walking shoes, if you do a search. Some posters care about style, some care only about comfort.

It's not a silly question. Being conmfortable travelling means not only physical comfort, but the psychological lift from feeling you're looking nice in your new surroundings, and a second lift from flattering photos. You question indicates you DO care about your appearance.

I haven't been to Germany, but felt in fashion travelling last fall in Europe wearing a pair of black lace-up Clark's oxfords with well-fitting dark pants and a fitted stretchy shirt or pullover. The Clark's laced all the way up to the toe, meaning if my feet swelled from hours of walking, I could loosen them.

It seems to me that loafer-style shoes might come loose or cause a slip with all the running across uneven streets one has to do (in Rome, for instance!)

I also brought Easy Spirit black sandals for warmer climates, which you probably wouldn't need.

For the few dress-up occasions, I brought medium-heeled pumps with a sturdy sole, Mary Jane strap and a round toe. (There's no way someone 5 feet tall can feel dressed up in flats!) The shoes were cute, and the strap and the thick, chunky heel insured that the shoes felt secure even on cobblestone streets. I wore these with a simple dress or skirt and opaque black hose, so no worries about runs in nylon hose.

Jan 21st, 2002, 01:26 PM
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When in Europe, nothing screams 'American' more than blue jeans, tennis shoes, t-shirt and a baseball cap.

Here's my European wardrobe, which is amazingly like my business casual work wardrobe at home:

I wear top-sider style, dark loafers. I find them incredibly comfortable and can walk in them for miles through the course of a day. I also take two pairs and leave a good pair of wooden shoe trees in the pair I'm not wearing. The shoes hold up so much better and the leather doesn't shrink down a bit when they get damp and dry during the day off. I NEVER take new shoes. I always wear them at home at least 4 weeks before I take them.

I wear docker style, dark slacks. Tans aren't in so much in Europe and the darker slacks seem to better hide the effects of eating out and getting stains.

A polo style or button down shirt with a t-shirt underneath. The t-shirt helps in warm as well as cool weather. I try to take only solid colors.

No hat, even though I do love a baseball cap to help keep my receding hairline from sunburning. I just push the sun block into the edge of my hairline and do OK.

I take a big, black water repellent outer 'shell' type coat. If it's cooler I wear a sweater or heavier jacket underneath it.

Now what I really need to master is eating with my fork in my left hand and the knife in my right hand. The American way of eating is a dead giveaway no matter how you're dressed.
Jan 21st, 2002, 01:41 PM
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You are getting into an area that has been discussed many times here....the comfortable slobs versus the people who give a damn about how they look.

We have lived in Germany and make about 1 trip a year back there. You will be very comfortable with good shoes (anything but white tennis) and casual slacks and shirts. We always try to look nice and clean, but not necessarily "dressed up".

The slobs in the world will still be there with old white tennis shoes, backward baseball hats (out of style anyway but they do not know that yet) blue jeans with holes and sweatshirts with the names of beers on them. Avoid that look and you will be okay.

I am always amazed at how many people dress so bad in case they spill something on themselves. I am also very curious as to where all the clothes you see being purchased in malls actually goes as most people today cannot dress well if they had to. All those mall bags being carried by people in really bad clothes. Are the clothes inside the bags good or simply more really bad clothes? If good, when do they wear them as they are out in public at the mall and dressed as if they were ready to work in the yard on a dirty project. Interesting concept.....

You are on the right track for Germany. Great area, enjoy the trip. Just leave the tennis shoes at home!
Jan 21st, 2002, 02:10 PM
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We were in Germany in 2000 and were frequently mistaken for Germans. Apparently we must have dressed right. We are about 20 years older than you though. All the previous comments are right on. Darker colored semi-decent sportswear, perhaps a casual Friday look got us through everything. We both have good walking shoes and we also got a lot of use out of a pair of heavier shoes that are closer to a hiking boot (great for those muddy paths or cobblestone streets).
Jan 21st, 2002, 02:48 PM
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Thank you all for your comments! You confirmed what I had originally suspected. Purchase a good pair of walking shoes (maybe a super comfy pair of Ecco's with a little bit of style) and pack a couple pair of good, not-easily wrinkled, black pants, a black skirt, and some tops to match. I sure don't want to give off the "ugly American" vibe (not through my dress or my attitude). And besides, I'm a great light packer when I build my wardrobe around black, white, and khaki. Thanks again for your tips!
Jan 22nd, 2002, 09:47 AM
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Germans are probably the most casually dressed Europeans, at least Germans under the age of 40 who aren't out clubbing. My German colleagues wear jeans, sneakers and even sweatshirts. They hate dressing up--they look more like Americans than most American tourists!
Jan 22nd, 2002, 01:00 PM
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You could probably wear a helmut and hob-nail boots and nobody would notice in Germany. Talk about slobs and not bathing!
Jan 22nd, 2002, 02:07 PM
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There are lots of good brands of walking shoes that you'll be able to find that will do for hiking and city walking. Try Rockport, ECCO, Mephistos, etc. They are pricey but worth it. They wear well and give better support and look better than sneakers. You can be comfortable and still look good and have fun.
Jan 23rd, 2002, 10:56 AM
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I love America and Americans--i even am one of them. I'm patriotic and proud. But when I'm traveling anywhere, even in the states, it's shocking to see how about half the people dress. In summer,I feel fortunate that they are even wearing any clothes. Hairy men in loose tank tops and short shorts with big ugly legs. Gross! There we are sitting on the plane and these people walk by carrying everything but the kitchen sink. I am a total believer in comfort but when did comfort become the same as being a slob? Also, that excuse that people use that they can't afford any other clothes--B.S. Even at Wal-Mart you can find clothes that are decent looking and comfortable. Jennifer, this is not directed at you, personally. Italians tend to be more formal in their attire even while hiking. I'm just sounding off because I don't get why wearing our gardening clothes has suddenly become what we now travel in. And that argument that I read on this forum that people want to be seen for who they are inside not what they look like on the outside! More, you know what. People's appearance is usually a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves. If you look gross, who can get past that to find what's on the inside? Except another gross person. And that's fine, really.
Feb 9th, 2002, 01:35 AM
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I agree with what everyone has said so far. I was in Berlin August last year and this last January, and wore the same clothing I wear back here in Utah(khakis, jeans, sweaters, mainly in dark colors) and didn't feel like I stood out (as a struggling graduate student, two weeks in Germany was enough financial strain without spending on new clothing!). Comfortable walking shoes is hugely important, as everyone has said! Your trip will be much more enjoyable if your feet don't hurt. Last August I lived in my favorite most comfortable pair of brown sandals and was fine. One thing no one mentioned is the climate...be prepared for anything. Last August the week before I was in Berlin temperatures were in the 90s, then the following week when I went it was high 60s to low 70s and rained nearly every day. Take a jacket with a hood or an umbrella. Have a wonderful trip! Mags
Feb 9th, 2002, 09:44 AM
Jim Tardio
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You could wear a formal gown or a burlap sack. Europeans deal with tourism on a daily basis. They will most likely take one look at you and immediately figure you for an American...so you might as well be comfortable.

Trust me, if they can't ridicule you about your clothes they will find something else to laugh at.

Sorry to be negative, but I know enough of the, German, French, and especially Italian languages...and I have heard it all first hand, either directed at me, or at others in the vicinity.

That being said, I love Europe and try to get there at least once a year. Even with their attitude, the people are generally fantastic.
Feb 9th, 2002, 10:21 AM
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I'm all for dressing in neat, clean clothes. However.....

On September 11, my town received 10,000 unexpected guests, many of whom were either inbound or outbound from Europe. For the life of me, I can't remember what they were wearing.

Europeans deal with bomb threats, lost jobs, lovers that leave them, children who fall ill, archaeological sites being vandalized, their homes being burglarized, their friends injured in traffic accidents, angry bosses, and bad weather. Those that have time and emotional energy to examine my shoes can't be living in the same world.

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