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What (Not) to Wear in Europe: Men’s Edition

Gearing up for a summer getaway is certainly exciting; figuring out what’s appropriate to wear on your trip, well, not so much. Whether you’re heading to a vibrant European capital or an ultra-relaxing beach resort, knowing what to pack can be a daunting task. For men, the safest plan, regardless of destination, is to keep things simple, packing versatile basics in neutral shades of navy, gray, khaki, black, and white.

“I would definitely bring an unlined blazer that’s comfortable and more casual but still gives you the look of a tailored jacket,” suggests Matt Marden, Fashion Market Director at DETAILS magazine. “Something like a navy suit or a gray suit is also great to bring because you can break up the pieces and dress them up or down with a white button down or a navy blue t-shirt.”

Marden also suggests bringing jeans in dark denim (since it’s more polished than lighter washes), a pair of comfortable dress shoes, and a pair of classic white sneakers, which can be worn with a suit (to give it a more casual feel) as well as shorts and a simple tee.

Of course, some of what needs to be packed depends on where you’re going. Here are Marden’s tips for the most popular types of summer destinations:

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A Chic European City

“If you’re going to be in a city in the summer, it’s great to get key items in fabrics like cotton and linen,” Marden advises. “They have an effortless feel to them and look chic even if they get wrinkly.” What not to pack? “I would not bring anything like a flip-flop, any sort of gym shorts unless you’re going to run in them, or graphic t-shirts or destination t-shirts. Most quote unquote ‘tacky tourists’ wear a lot of logos, so I would avoid logos at all costs, even on your luggage.”


A Charming Small Town

For this type of trip, the goal is to look relaxed and lowkey “I love wearing a pair of shorts—more of a tailored short, nothing ‘cargoey’ with tons of pockets—with a dress shoe if you’re going to a small town,” Marden says “Another great thing is bringing a grey sweatshirt, because that looks good with khakis and it’s super comfortable, easy, and breathable if you’re running all around. If you’re sightseeing in the morning and it’s cool you can wear it, then wrap it around your waist or shoulders as it gets warmer later in the day.”


A Sun-Drenched Beach

“Unless you’re a male model or an Olympian—or have the body of either—you don’t want to be rocking a Speedo on the beach,” Marden laughs, suggesting that swim trunks should fall between mid-thigh and just above the knee. “Grown men should not be wearing any sort of board shorts because that gets to be a little goofy.”


On the Plane

For the journey to and from your destination, Marden says the priority is ease. “I love a chino on the airplane, or a dress pant, because they’re comfortable,” he says. “Jeans get to be too heavy sometimes. A slim fitting cargo pant also would work.” He also suggests wearing a cardigan sweater, since planes can get drafty.

Thinking of a trip to Europe?

For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, as well as the best planning advice, check out our Europe Travel Guide.

But although it’s important to be comfortable, particularly for long haul flights, Marden says not to take that goal too far. “I would never wear sweatpants,” he says.

Photo Credits: Chic European City: TommL/; Small Town: via; Beach Vacation: via; On The Airplane: Sava Alexandru/

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