European Travel Outfits: 6 Tips for Staying Comfortable and Stylish

The way you dress is important, as it can promote friendlier service and social interactions. When you’re traveling, in particular, this can make all the difference! On the other hand, looking like a tourist is likely to get you targeted in the eyes of pickpocketers, scammers or worse, and could have a negative impact on your interactions with locals. With that in mind, looking uncomfortable in your clothes can even leave you standing out by looking insecure. You want to make sure that your European-inspired ensemble is also you-inspired!

You-Inspired, Not North America-Inspired

There are certain wardrobe pieces that scream Western world, and some of them might be staple pieces or even favorite pieces for you. We don’t want to change YOU — but instead, just like you might translate your English words into one of many European languages, you can translate these pieces into European equivalents! You will still be “saying” the same thing, but in a way that the world around you can understand a little easier! For instance:

  • White tennis shoes and socks could be swapped out for cute and comfortable closed-toe shoes of equal comfort in more sophisticated styles, whether they be Oxfords, loafers, mules, clogs, heels or otherwise.
  • Ball caps could be swapped out for floppy wide-brim hats, Panama-style hats, Trilby-style hats or another sophisticated style.
  • Leggings could be swapped out for equally casual, comfortable and maneuverable pant styles that offer a little more sophistication, like paper-bag waist pants in either super tapered or stylishly loose silhouettes, high-waist wide-leg pants of any sort and even potentially a pair of skinny jeans if the super skinny leg is what you’re all about.

Embrace Your Ensembles Fully and Free Your Style

Europeans dress up more than Americans, especially for meals and special occasions, so you don’t want to show up to an event in activewear or something sloppy. Even on the streets, this isn’t often acceptable. Unless you’re working out, there’s no reason to be in workout wear. Aside from looking touristy, you are likely to be denied admission to many venues (concert halls, churches, museums) or fine restaurants.

In other words, this is an invitation to play with your personal style in a way that you’ve never been comfortable enough to do before!

If You’re Unsure of Your Style, Timeless Classics Will Serve You Well Here (and Back Home!)

If you’re unsure of your style and having a hard time freeing it, if you’re feeling insecure about new styles and pieces or if activewear is the only thing you actually feel comfortable and able in, consider investing in some timeless and classic articles of clothing. These tend to be comfortable, functional, fashionable and fit in well with the world of European style. Not only that, but they will serve you well when you get back home! Clean lines, fitted shapes, neutral colors, classic patterns and luxury materials are key when it comes to picking the perfect timeless pieces.

Comfortable Shoes for Cobblestone Streets

European streets, sidewalks and subways tend to be very crowded, and they tend to be cobblestone. It’s for these reasons that open-toe shoes aren’t always the best option. And while the locals will walk on these cobblestone streets with spectacular ease in their heels, do heed the danger of heels on these types of streets and aim for styles with extra ankle support like cute ankle boots or Mary Janes.

If it’s too hot for closed toes, comfortable sandals with style will be the key. In other words, not your flip-flops that you can feel the ground through and will randomly fold under your foot and make you wipe out!

Be Mindful About Modesty

Spain, Italy, Portugal and many other areas of interest in Europe feature prolific and prominent churches or places of worship. You’ll want to dress modestly in any areas with fundamental religious views whether or not you’re visiting the churches themselves. As a general rule, you want your bottoms to come below the knee, avoid plunging necklines and avoid tank tops and strapless shirts. This applies to men, women and children alike. If you’re determined to wear these types of pieces, we recommend at least carrying a large scarf to cover up in specific areas and situations.

Many options will work in this sense and allow you to enter these spaces respectfully, but we suggest scarves thanks to the fact that they have been and continue to be an extremely fashionable accessory in European style!

Beware of Your Backpack

The cumbersome backpacks that Americans commonly boast on their backs are easy targets for thieves, so consider investing in a smaller bag that you can don in front, especially when taking public transportation or taking in crowded areas. If you’ll be going into a lot of these areas, crossbody bags reinforced with wire mesh to deter slash-and-grab attempts are available and highly recommended.

If you have a secure room or space to leave your main bag during outings, we suggest a secondary bag just for outings that only includes what you need and takes a more inconspicuous form.

Immersing Yourself in the Culture in Every Sense…

Even if looking polished isn’t your priority when you travel, blending in with the locals is always a good idea, and immersing yourself in the culture is always an eye-opener. Don’t be afraid to play with your style and embrace the local culture in every single sense — from the scenery to the style!


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