18 Jun 2015

What to Wear to Not Look Like a Tourist When in Europe

Submitted by Karen

Europe is a great place to visit and there are so many sites to see and places to go, but if you are an American tourist, you certainly don’t want to look like a tourist. Looking more like a native will bring you less notice and can give you more access to some clubs. Although it is true that there may not be a lot of difference in the way Americans and Europeans dress, there are some subtle differences that you may not know about. 


  • Wear clothing that is less colorful. One small difference between American and European dress is the colors we choose to wear. Americans love to wear bright colors and patterns and we all accept that. But Europeans tend to have a bent towards wearing clothing of more subtle colors. A native will wear somewhat darker colors like browns and grays. Wearing bright colors will signal that you are a tourist from a mile away.
  • Don’t wear your baggy clothing on your tour of Europe. That will certainly scream tourist to the natives. The European styles tend to lean towards clothing that is more tight-fitting.
  • By no means should you wear your favorite sweat pants that you wear while lounging around the house or while you are hanging out with friends. Sweat pants is really not a very respectful style for the situation.
  • Shorts are another faux pas in Europe. Adults in Europe generally do not wear shorts. Your children will be fine wearing shorts, as Europeans see shorts as clothing that only children should wear. You will have to get used to the heat in your long pants, but you will survive.
  • Although Americans tend to wear sports clothes anywhere, Europe is most probably not the place for that attire. The Europeans save this attire for sports only, so if you are not on the soccer field or the baseball diamond, you need to avoid wearing your sports clothing. Only undesirable people tend to wear sports clothing anywhere but the sport arenas.
  • Avoid wearing clothing with swear words. Don’t draw attention to yourself.
  • Don’t wear clothing bearing the American flag. You are in foreign countries and you need to be conscious of the respect that you must show.
  • Avoid skinny jeans.


Believe it or not, there are also certain facts about shoes that you need to know if you wish to fit in with the natives. 

  • Flip-Flops – Believe it or not, Europeans do not wear these anywhere but in the shower. Wearing these can keep you out of some establishments, so keep that in mind.
  • Running shoes – You can wear comfortable shoes, but don’t wear shoes that are obviously running shoes. 
  • Clothing for Daytime

Be sure to stick to the tips that have already been mentioned. Wear a polo shirt if you like, along with a comfortable pair of jeans or slacks. Ladies, a skirt is, of course, acceptable. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you will be doing a lot of walking.

Clothing for Night Wear

Again, follow the guidelines above. You can dress casually, but watch your shoes. There are nightclubs that require more dressy wear, but there are still those that will let the casual dresser in, unless you are wearing flip-flops.


Touring Europe is a great experience, so don’t let the faux pas put you off your trip. Make your plane and hotel or hostel reservations and take off. You may even make some friends that can be lifelong friends. 

Remember the tips you have seen and pack carefully so that you will have every type of clothing you might need. If you are mainly backpacking your way through Europe, you may not need any really dressy clothes. If you have plans to stay in hotels and tourist groups, pack appropriately, with comfortable walking clothes and shoes and dress clothes if you plan to visit the more expensive night clubs.

Europeans are friendly for the most part, but expect different receptions from different countries in Europe. If you follow the dress guidelines you will find that the natives are more receptive. Bon Voyage! Have a wonderful time and be prepared to share your experience with friends at home.